“Canine Athletes.” That’s how John Parker with Greyhound Pets of American Atlanta/Southeastern Greyhound Adoption describes his favorite breed. And it’s appropriate! Racing greyhounds truly are legitimate athletes, training and all.
For me, the “career path” of a racing greyhound is particularly interesting.
Unlike most puppies, greyhounds get to hang out and just be puppies with their with litter-mates for 12-14 months. Next typically, the dogs’ owners will lease them to a kennel where they go through a sort of boot-camp till they’re 17-18 months old under the guidance and care of a professional trainer. Then it’s time to go to the “Puppy Track, then “Maiden Grade” until they win their first race. After that first victory, a dog will move up and down Grades A thru D until retirement at age 3 or 4. Next comes adoption.
Holy cow, the greyhound adoption process is amazingly formal!
It’s not like just anybody is qualified to adopt a greyhound. There’s an online application form, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings. The adoption agency then chooses several dogs with characteristics that line up with the applicant.
Sometimes folks get politely told that it’s not a good fit. Listening to John describe the process and the care that goes into it – like checking for “cat tolerance,” and assigning a mentor to work with the new owner – pretty much debunks the sensational mistreatment horror stories floating around.
If you’re interested in adopting a greyhound, check out The Greyhound Project to get started.
And finally, a tidbit of history…
Ever hear of “Coursing?” It’s centuries old, the precursor of dog racing and what greyhounds have been bred to do. Dictionary.com defines coursing as “hares, “not rabbits,” as John pointed out. Literally all racing greyhounds trace their lineage back to coursing dogs.
If you have any interest in dogs at all – and who doesn’t? – You need to check out this episode!