Adopting a greyhound is a good thing. It gives a magnificent dog a good life beyond its racing days, saving it from the possibility of being put down.
But when you adopt a second greyhound, you have to face facts: You just earned your membership card in GNONG: Greyhound Nuts Owning Nutty Greyhounds.
That’s us as we adopt Cici, the half-sister of our first greyhound, Tusc. We’re card-carrying GNONG members in love with big goofy dogs.
We got Tusc last summer before Florida voters sold out greyhounds with a knee-jerk, uninformed vote. I’m not a proponent of greyhound racing, but am saddened that Florida put an end to greyhound racing without having a plan to ensure the welfare of the dogs. There will soon be thousands of Florida greyhounds needing adoption, or who will be put down. It’s like preparing for a flood by having bags but no sand to fill those bags. Florida voters let the dogs down.
There hasn’t been much news since the vote. A track or two are throwing in the towel early, some greyhound breeding is slowing down. Some dogs may go to tracks in the five states that still have greyhound racing, some may be sent to Mexico to race.
The groups that got greyhound racing banned walked away from the problem they created. I hope, but have little faith, that the Florida legislature will help move dogs from the tracks to life after racing, but I think more dogs could die because of the end of racing than did because of racing.
Every industry has its bad apples, and dog racing is no exception, but our dogs show no signs of bad treatment. Both of our greyhounds came from West Virginia tracks, and these dogs are fabulous creatures in great shape. They’re brindles, with Cici having fewer black stripes and more red in her coat. It’s obvious that both of them were treated well. They were fit physically and emotionally when we got them.
The biggest off-track transition challenges Tusc and Cici faced are stairs, hardwood floors and other things they never dealt with in their racing life, meaning most of what happens living in a house with people and cats.
Racing was their job, and now they’re retired with time on their paws. It’s our job to help them learn the ropes of canine athlete retirement. They’ve mastered snoozing on the couch, and they’re learning the rest quickly.
Every greyhound and its owners are ambassadors in the challenge to save Florida greyhounds. That may make us a little nuttier than we usually are, and may make us talk about our dogs a little more than we usually do.
We’ll talk about how they’re muzzled not because they’re aggressive, but because sometimes they race like Ben-Hur and forget their manners. How a few good walks a day and a good run or two a week keep them healthy. How they make great armrests when you’re watching TV. How those soft floppy ears and big soulful eyes suck you in.
These greyhounds didn’t choose their racing life, but people can choose to make sure the dogs have a good life for the rest of their years.
Here’s the hard sell: Greyhounds make greyt pets (that’s nutty greyhound owner spelling). Rescuing and adopting them is a good thing. They come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. They need some special care. Their bodies are weird, so they need a vet who knows greys. They have little body fat and no undercoat, so they’re more sensitive to the temperature than most dogs. And they look dashing in coats.
When it comes to the pending greyhound disaster in Florida, you could be saving a dog from a bitter fate.
Here’s a website that lists adoption groups all over the country http://www.adopt-a-greyhound.org. Lots of groups hold meet-and-greets where you can see dogs up for adoption and talk with owners who have adopted greyhounds. Go meet, go greet, go scratch a few ears.
Join in the nutty love of greyhounds. Your GNONG card is waiting for you.
Gary Presley is the pagination director for AIM Media Midwest. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.