Greyhounds placed through Make Peace With Animals are usually between two and five years of age. These retired racers are very intelligent adaptable dogs that fit in easily to their new environment following a brief adjustment period. They are eager to please and respond positively to any attention given them. They become attached quickly to their new families!
The majority of retired track Greyhounds are quiet, clean, good natured, gentle dogs who get along well with other animals and children. They seem grateful for their new homes and reward their new families with unending affection. They do not require as much space to run as many people assume and are usually quite content to curl up on a soft run, blanket, or on the sofa!
Greyhounds stand between 26 to 29 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 55 and 80 pounds. Although most males are larger than females, we have placed 60-pound boys and 75-pound girls! Greyhounds come in many colors: black, white, fawn (tan), red (rust), several shades of brindle (striped) and white with patches. Their average life span of 12 to 14 years is quite long for large dogs.
1. DO GREYHOUNDS NEED A LOT OF EXERCISE?
In retirement, their exercise needs are the same as any other dog.
2. ARE THEY HOUSEBROKEN?
No, but they are crate-trained. With continued use of a crate in your home, they can usually be housebroken in a few days.
3. ARE THEY GOOD WITH CHILDREN?
Most are, and we make every effort to match you with the appropriate dog for your family. By nature, Greyhounds are a gentle, docile breed who tend to avoid confrontation. We remind you that children should always be supervised when interacting with any animal and that rough play or the disregard of a dog’s need for private time is to be discouraged.
4. DO GREYHOUNDS REALLY MAKE GOOD PETS?
Every Greyhound raised with love and affection, especially early in life, will make a wonderful, loving, devoted pet. Greyhounds quickly become attached to their new owners, thrive on pleasing them, and never tire of being petted. Many people we’ve placed Greyhounds with say they’re the best pets they ever had!
After You Adopt
The Adjustment Period
Recognizing the adjustment period and managing it successfully is an important part of any Greyhound adoption. It must be remembered that being a companion instead of a racer involves a dramatic change in your dog’s routine and he must be given time to adjust to his new surroundings. In this regard, a quiet Greyhound may become fretful, a good eater reluctant to eat, a clean Greyhound may have an “accident.” Your love, patience and understanding will help your Greyhound through this adjustment period which may last from a few days to a few weeks.
Your Greyhound was housed in a large crate at the track and was let out in the pen four times a day to relieve himself. He is used to getting up between 7 AM and 7:30 AM and going out right away. To avoid accidents in the house, we recommend your keeping him on this schedule initially and gradually get him used to sleeping later if necessary.
If your dog has an accident in the house, a verbal reprimand is usually enough. Then, take him outside and praise him when he relieves himself. Do not hit your dog or put his nose in the “accident.” Your dog will respond more quickly to kindness. Clean the spot immediately and rinse the area with a solution of white vinegar and water. This will neutralize the odor and discourage him from going in that spot again. When any dog is in a new environment, he or she may lift their leg or squat either to mark their territory or as a nervous reaction. Watch your new dog carefully to try and catch them before they do it again. Remember, a gentle but firm verbal reprimand is sufficient. Always praise good behavior! This is part of the adjustment period and usually only lasts a day or two. Walk your dog as often as possible the first few days. This will teach him where he is supposed to “go” and will also help relieve the tension of being in new surroundings. When you leave the dog alone, put him in his crate and you won’t have to worry about coming home to any “accidents.” By the way, some Greyhounds are shy about relieving themselves while on a leash. Either let them go in a fully fenced area or be patient while they get used to it.
Provide your Greyhound with a very soft bed or thick quilt or comforter. Greyhounds have no padding on their elbows and can develop sores and/or a fluid condition if forced to sleep on a hard surface. Greyhounds love to sleep in the same room as you do—and in the same bed if you’ll let them! Being near you is comforting to them and allows them to bond with you more quickly.
A Greyhound’s diet consists of four to six cups of dry premium dog food. We recommend brands such as Purina Pro Plan, Annamaet, Iams, Nutro Max or any high quality dry food. Avoid supermarket brands such as Gravy Train, Butcher’s Blend, or the semi-moist foods such as Gaines Burgers. They tend to be too rich and can cause gas or diarrhea. If you wish, you may add cooked vegetables. Greyhounds get veggies at the track and love them! Retired racers do not need high protein dog food, so get a food for regular adult maintenance. Boiled white rice added to the food can control loose stools.
Greyhounds are extremely sensitive animals that cannot be disciplined roughly. A stern tone of voice is all that is needed to get a Greyhound to understand what you expect of him. The wrong disciplinary tactics will only teach your dog to be afraid of you. Remember: always praise good behavior!
Greyhounds adopted through Make Peace With Animals have been spayed or neutered, given their yearly inoculations, tested negative for heartworm, been de-wormed, de-flea’d and de-ticked and have been treated with a flea and tick preventative. While they have been examined and treated by a veterinarian, there are, as with any dog you may acquire, certain veterinary conditions which a dog may be harboring that are impossible to detect without extensive and expensive testing. We give you a dog that we, and a veterinarian, believe to be healthy. If we know that a dog has a physical condition that is less-than-perfect, we will tell you everything we know about it in advance. Once we tell you all that we have discovered, you can then decide if you want to adopt the dog, or not. Not only do we want you to be happy, but we also want to know that the home we pick for a dog will be one in which they will get the veterinary care that they deserve. An important part of the philosophy of rescuing a dog is seeing to it that you do for the adopted animal what is or her previous owner did not. We recommend that all newly-adopted Greyhounds see a veterinarian within a week or two of adoption for a well-dog visit. It is useful for your doctor to see the dog in what is a healthy state, so that he or she will have something to compare it to should your dog ever fall ill. During this first visit, we recommend that your dog’s teeth and gums be evaluated. Some dogs come to us with sparkling teeth, others do not. Poor dental hygiene can lead to serious bacterial infections, tooth loss, difficulty in chewing and bad breath—just as it does in humans! Once your dog’s teeth are clean, keep them that way by using a specially designed canine toothbrush one a week.
During this initial visit, we also recommend that you have your dog tested for the four major tick diseases: Babesia, Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichia. Even though your dog may appear healthy and is now tick-free, he or she could have been exposed to disease-carrying ticks at the track. These tick-borne diseases can cause a host of life-threatening conditions to become symptomatic and, by then, it is often too late to correct the damage. If your veterinarian suggests that perhaps only a Lyme test is needed as that is the only tick-borne disease prevalent in this area, please explain that racing Greyhounds travel to areas of the country where various diseases are common and that they often become tick-infested. We cannot stress enough the importance of early detection for tick-borne diseases, and, to facilitate the process, Make Peace With Animals offers discounted tick testing at our annual Homecoming (held on the last Sunday in September).Good veterinary care is an on-going process. Inoculations must be updated annually, teeth must be kept clean, flea and tick preventatives must be applied regularly. Ears should be swabbed from time to time and coats must be brushed and bathed. Toenails must be clipped on a regular basis. If you don’t want to do it yourself, a local groomer, pet supply store or veterinarian will perform this necessary task for a few dollars.
When we give you a dog, we are counting on you to not only give him food and shelter, but to see to all of his or her needs. Before you adopt, please be honest with yourself, and us, about your willingness to make this vital commitment.
Your Greyhound should get along well with other dogs as he has had lots of socialization experience at the racing kennel. Take care to watch them carefully at first as the “old dog” may be jealous of the newcomer. Always separate your dogs when you feed them. Competition for food can lead to confrontations. We also recommend that the first meeting your Greyhound has with your existing dog(s) be outside, on lead, and in neutral territory. Taking the old and the new dog on a walk through the neighborhood is often a good way for them to get acquainted.
Many of our Greyhounds live in homes with cats and get along very well with them. All of the dogs placed by Make Peace With Animals have been tested for compatibility with cats and small dogs. However, there is a right and wrong way to introduce them to your pets.
When introducing your new Greyhound to your cat(s) for the first time, put on the muzzle. Hold the dog firmly on a leash and allow the animals to sniff each other. If the Greyhound lunges forward, jerk his collar and say “No!” If the cat swats him, this is normal behavior and lets the dog know that the cat is part of the family. Remember, in the beginning you should supervise the Greyhound outside with the cats as well as in the house.
We provide you with a new safety collar and matching leash for your Greyhound. This type of collar prevents a Greyhound from ever backing out of a collar and slipping away. Never use a regular buckle-type collar! If the safety collar wears out, or if you want another color, they are available either at our Center in Doylestown or through mail order sources.
Your dog will come with a numbered Make Peace I.D. tag. That number is entered into our computer, and, in the unlikely event that he or she is ever lost, the person finding your dog can call us to report the event. However, you also need to get a tag with your own name, address and phone number and affix it to your dog’s collar. You will be provided with a form so you can order a permanent tag. Our tag is a back-up for you, and your tag is a back-up for us.
Never tie your Greyhound outside on a rope, chain or “runner.” Greyhounds have never been tied in their lives and can get tangled and injured if they see something and attempt to chase it. Greyhounds can run up to 42 m.p.h. and, at that speed, could easily break their necks when they reach the end of the chain.
Your Greyhound will come with a turn-out muzzle from the race track. This was used while he or she was travelling with other dogs and when he or she was put out into a small pen with other dogs. It is not the muzzle that was used during races. This valuable piece of equipment should be used for the Greyhound’s first introduction to a cat or small dog, to prevent chewing, and if the dog will be running/playing with other dogs. Do not discard it, even after you think it is no longer needed. You never know what lies ahead, and muzzles of this type are hard to find.
In retirement, a Greyhound’s exercise needs are no different from any dog. Your Greyhound is used to relieving himself four times a day, which was his routine at the track. Keeping him on this schedule will avoid “accidents” in the house. If you plan to jog with your dog, first make sure he has had no past injuries then, start him out slowly. He is used to running short distances on soft tracks. Overwork will tire him out and may be hard on the pads of his feet. NEVER let your Greyhound run loose! They must either be walked on a leash or released only in a fully fenced area. No human being can run as fast as a Greyhound, so if he gets away, you will not be able to catch him. They travel so fast, in fact, that they can get far away very quickly and become disoriented and, then lost. Also, track Greyhounds have had no experience with cars and do not recognize them as a hazard. Listen to the voice of experience: DO NOT LET YOUR GREYHOUND RUN LOOSE! If you know that the Greyhound you adopted is not small dog – or cat-friendly, please use adequate precautions when walking your dog. Keep a firm grip on the leash, steer your dog away from small pets and if necessary, muzzle your dog while walking her or him in public areas. If you don’t have a fenced yard where your dog can run safely, find a fenced-in park or fully fenced athletic field. A romp or gallop once or twice a week helps to relieve a dog’s nervous energy and keeps their muscles in top condition.
The more you know about dogs in general, and Greyhounds in particular, the better able you will be to decide whether or not adoption is for you. All of the following books should be available through your local library. While Adopting the Racing Greyhound is part of your post-adoption kit, it is best to read it before you adopt so you’ll know exactly what to expect, and then to re-read it once you have adopted!
1. ADOPTING THE RACING GREYHOUND, 3rd edition, By Cynthia Branigan, Howell Book House, NY, 2003
2. THE REIGN OF THE GREYHOUND: A Popular History if the Oldest Family of Dogs, By Cynthia Branigan, Howell Book House, NY, 2004. A history of the Greyhound family, the oldest of purebred dogs, from 6000 B.C. to the present. Winner of the 1997 Maxwell Award, Best General Interest Dog Book of the year.
3. SECOND-HAND DOG, How To Turn Yours Into A First-Rate Pet, By Carole Lea Benjamin, Howell Book House, NY, 1980 A useful primer, written by a top-notch dog trainer, on helping dogs who have had former lives adjust to their new surroundings.
4. CHILDPROOFING YOUR DOG, By Brian Kilcommons, Warner Books, NY, 1994
A book that should be required reading for adults who plan to have their new dog live with children. Kilcommons instructs the reader on how everyone can live happily ever after --- if they follow his very specific advice!