In 1998 Christine Johnson adopted her first greyhound. To say the least, she found it to be gentle, clean and quiet. Moreover, she liked it so much that she felt compelled to tell others about what great pets they make. "That was 800 dogs ago," she says, but for all the joy she's now incurred placing Greyhounds in homes with her North Salem, New York based non-profit, Greyhound Rescue & Rehab, the actual circumstance of each dog's journey is equally as heart wrenching.
Of course, that's if they are lucky enough to be rescued. Greyhounds are a product, and like aPinto or a Pacer, lack of generated revenue dictates that money be better spent elsewhere. "If the product isn't making money," she says, "they're not going to put more money into the product." Bluntly speaking, to offset expenses, dogs must win enough purse money to turn a profit or be euthanized for something faster.
In defense of what the industry calls, "dog men," she says when a dog's time comes, they definitely don't want to kill their dogs, but it comes back to business 101. So the more that Greyhound Rescue or other adoption organizations can take, she says, the happier they are.
Unfortunately, a quality of life merited by winning pales in comparison to any homebound mutt - be they slothfully happy or obsessively mobile. They're woken every morning, fed and let out twice a day for an hour. They train every third or fourth day and maybe race every third or fourth day. Beyond that, she says, all they've known is a crate - 36 inches long 30 inches wide and 35 inches high.
Therein, then lies the work in getting a greyhound up to speed in terms of becoming a pet. "They're not house broken," she says, "they've never been in a house." Working with about ten foster families in the area, they often get a dog that is very anxious, may cry or just freeze up in a circumstance that is completely out of their element.
But in two or three days, it starts to click. "They're probably thinking," she says, "whew this is not bad, and this soft thing under my feet that I keep tripping on, I think I'll lie down in it. And all of a sudden, it's like you're offering me meat in your hand and I can really take it with my mouth."
Realizing that it's all ok, they begin to blossom but their new persona does not equate with what might be expected from a dog that is bred to compete. "In a lot of respects, they are very cat like," she says. Well groomed and licking themselves just as clean, she adds, if youcall it, she'll come to you - when it's good and ready - because they are free thinkers.
Within those confines, she says, personalities neatly range between her own two Grey's. One is a Tigger type, which is all over the place, and other is afraid to come out of the bedroom, but either way there's plenty of dog to go around. "They really want to please," she says, "and when you're happy that they've done something good, they are just as excited."
For the foster families, the satisfaction of acclimating a greyhound to a new life definitely comes with a downside. Taking between two weeks and two months, its relocation to a forever home, she says, "will break your heart, but knowing you've paved their way acts to ease the pain until the next animal comes along."
As is, the first rule of ownership is an enclosed area or a leash. "They've been trained to run," she says, and as soon as their eye catches movement, they're off. Within three strides, they're at 40 MPH, and by nature and breeding, their only focus is the chase. Long before they hit the next county, they'll probably get hit by a car.
Stationary and en route from rescue, the medical bills usually run about $400 per dog. Obviously, they fundraise but the biggest obstacle to rescue is housing, and when a dog man lays out the standard phrase, "I'm going to send them back to the farm, she knows it means just one thing.
"That dog better be in my car in a matter of days or he isn't going to make it," she says. In wake of that reality, a facility to house the dogs would be nice. Unfortunately, in Westchester, even if they had the funds, she says, "the zoning laws are ridiculous."
Nonetheless, catching Greyhound rescue at a fundraising appearance will make you hard pressed to pass by without taking note. "They look up at you with those big brown eyes and people are just suckered in," she says. In that regard, she'll hold no guilt for bringing out the dogs for their own sake.More Good Works http://rmgoodworks.blogspot.com/