When I say “greyhound”, what comes to mind? Long bus rides? Cramped leg space? A tiny bus terminal on Catherine Street? For many in Ottawa, “greyhound” means big soulful eyes, lots of mischief, belly rubs, ear scritches, treats and being part of an amazing community of people who love to talk about their dogs!
Retired racing greyhounds are a growing subset of the animal rescue community in Ottawa. There are two groups offering adoption services to people interested in welcoming one of these elegant couch potatoes into their families, the Greyhound Supporters and Adopt-a-
Given their racing careers, there are a number of common misconceptions about the breed. The main ones are that they’re high energy, require a lot of exercise, can’t live with small animals and aren’t very affectionate. Well, I can tell you that all of those are bunk.
There are always exceptions to the rule, but overall greyhounds are very relaxed dogs that don’t require a lot in comparison to other breeds in terms of care and exercise. Their teeth do require attention (regular brushing) as they are prone to tartar and plaque build-up. Also, they have very little body fat so soft bedding and appropriate attire depending on the season is necessary. But on the whole, they are quite low-maintenance.
Greyhounds, like many other large-breed dogs, are some of the laziest beasties you will ever encounter. In terms of energy, greyhounds are a lot more like cats than dogs. They are more than happy to spend sixteen to eighteen hours a day snoozing in a soft, warm spot. This, of course translates into not requiring a lot of exercise either. For my two retired racers, a couple of ten minute walks a day or one fifteen to twenty minute walk in the evening is more than enough to keep them happy and healthy. Though if it’s too cold or too wet, my delicate flowers prefer a more abridged jaunt (i.e. once around the block then back in front of the fireplace please!).
Along with both hounds, I also have two rescue cats. The four co-exist happily. It is a very small percentage of greyhounds that are not small-animal safe, meaning that their prey drive is quite high and they will hunt small animals if given the opportunity.
In terms of affection – what can I say? Greyhounds are some of the gentlest, most loving animals I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. Above all, they love spending time with their people and most will gladly hop up on the bed or beside you on the couch for a good snuggle. Even though it can be a lot like hugging a warm, furry bag of sticks, a greyhound snuggle is one of the best kinds of snuggles out there (I may be a bit biased).
Adoption is a straightforward process that involves a written application and a home visit for approved adopters. If you are interested in the breed, but aren’t sure about committing to adoption, fostering is also a great way to get to know the breed and the community. If you would like to learn more about what’s happening with greyhounds in the Ottawa area, the group I volunteer with is extremely active in the city.
The Greyhound Supporters always has fun events going on for people to check out. Our last big event of the year is coming up this Saturday November 29th at the Rideau Carleton Raceway. You can head out to our 10th Annual Greyhound Planet Day and meet some of these amazing athletes. There will also be volunteers on-hand to answer any questions you may have about the breed. The greyhound community in Ottawa is a very close-knit one and is one of the best parts of adopting a greyhound. At the very least, you’ll have a group of people who don’t mind looking at all of your silly pictures and videos.
There is so much more I could say about their distinguished history, their unique physiology, their racing life and the reality that exists for many greyhounds who have reached the end of their racing careers in other places in the world where adoption isn’t as prevalent, but come on out to one of our events and have a chat. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone unwilling to talk your ear off about their hound!