As Greyhound racetracks around the country continue to close, and more retired racing dogs flood rescue groups, there is obviously a need for adopters to give these former athletes the forever homes they deserve. But even if your circumstances are such that you can’t take another dog into your home permanently, there are other valuable ways in which you can help rescued Greyhounds.
If you are willing to share your home with a Greyhound for a few weeks or months, consider fostering or harboring the dog in your home to help evaluate him: Is he good with kids? OK with cats? Friendly with other dogs? You’ll also be acclimating him to the sights and sounds of “normal” everyday life, which might not be so normal to a dog who’s lived the racing life.
“These dogs have never looked into a mirror before. They’ve never dealt with squeaky toy or a TV blaring, but they adapt incredibly quickly,” says Michael McCann, president of The Greyhound Project in Boston. “It’s like seeing a baby learn things for the first time. It’s quite a thrill.”
Many adoption groups spread the world about what great companions Greyhounds make through adoption events, which are sometimes held at pet stores or expos.
“These events are a great opportunity for volunteering,” says Tara Lindburg of Engelwood, Colo., vice president of Colorado Greyhound Adoption. “Volunteers can spend some time handing out information and telling people about the breed.”
Breed education is sorely needed with Greyhounds, McCann adds. “They are thought of as hyper dogs, because they run so fast,” he says, which couldn’t be further from the truth – Greyhounds are sprinters and, being typical hounds, are content to loll around the house most of the day.
McCann notes that his own father thought Greyhounds were vicious “because at the racetrack they’re wearing muzzles when they run,” he explains. “His whole perception of them had to change because he’d never met one before. He was stunned – he couldn’t believe how docile and easygoing they were.”
If you can’t pitch in by volunteering or fostering, Lindburg says financial support is always greatly appreciated, as adoption groups face significant veterinary, transportation and boarding bills. To make the donation even more memorable, “some people make tributes to their own dog that has passed away by donating in honor of that dog,” she says.
No matter how you decide to help, do it sooner rather than later. Like these speedy dogs themselves, the Greyhound rescue crisis is accelerating, soon to reach full stride.
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