June 16th, 2006 | 2 Comments »

Inspired by PeaSoup’s recent post, I am compelled to post something about my beautiful and beloved greyhounds.   I’ve never been much of a pet person, and I’m conveniently allergic to cats and dogs (and, alas, a whole slew of other things).  However.  One day.  A few years ago.  While my biological timeclock was ticking.  Loudly.  Booming, in fact.  I happened upon a greyhound adoption awareness expo.  And fell. In.  Love.

I’d never seen such docile and beautiful creatures.  They resembled little deer with those fawny coats, big soulful eyes, and long slender legs.  I learned that people with allergies can often tolerate greyhounds, because they are not like other dogs.  They are short haired dogs and they don’t have the same oiliness that other dogs have, hence, they don’t smell like other dogs, don’t have the same kind of dander as other dogs, and don’t shed like other dogs.  These are all marketing points, and might be somewhat exaggerated.  In truth, they don’t smell bad (except, errr, the flatulence…) and they aren’t oily (I think perhaps that oil is what contributes to the dog smell, but I’m no expert), but they do shed.  Lots.  But who cares   When you’re smitten, you’re smitten, and these things don’t matter so much. 

I gathered all the info, set up my home and yard for greyhound safety (there are many requirements to meet, in order to be approved for adoption) and having passed the inspection and been deemed worthy of becoming a greyhound parent, I anxiously awaited my new family member’s arrival.

My first beautiful boy.  He was so scared, and cried all night.  I didn’t sleep the first night.  He was an ex-racer, and had never known life beyond the track and kennel.  A home was entirely new.  I had to teach him about windows and stairs and furniture.  I taught him to use the potty place (designated place out back).  He learned fast!  He was such a good boy.   (Until my Bugaboo arrived, at which time, there were a few behavioral incidents involving indoor urination…) 


He never learned to stay by my side.  How he loved to run free, but off-leash was out of the question.  He would bolt, and he wasn’t streetwise.  He didn’t understand roads or traffic, and he could run SO FAST and so far that by the time he stopped, he wouldn’t be able to find his way back.  This is one of the issues that one might encounter with an ex-racer. 

I fell so deeply in love that I became a foster mom, and took in new recruits and helped them transition from the track to the home, prior to going to their forever homes.  It was a tough job!  Like having a newborn (that is, until I had a newborn, at which time I learned that it wasn’t quite the same after all).  I fell in love with all my fosters, but I couldn’t bear to part with this little beauty.  baby4x6c.jpg

She was the sweetest thing.  She was a rescue, retrieved from a home in which she was not at all well cared for, and her previous mom was blacklisted, for good reason, and not allowed to adopt again.  My sweet girl.  She flunked out of racing before she even began, so she never actually raced.  She wasn’t so inclined to the singleminded chase, as her brother (who raced a full career, with a handful of wins, even!).  She did quite well off leash, and would return to my side when called.


We let her run free at the ocean, and it was exhilarating to behold!  The unbridled joy of a greyhound running at full bore, charging through the waves!  I will treasure the memories forever.  Even now, I can’t help but smile.


We briefly allowed her brother off leash, but it was a disaster and we nearly lost him.  We were able to retrieve him, thank God, but knew from that moment he absolutely must remain on leash, for his own safety.  My beautiful boy.  How I wanted to let him run free.

These hounds taught me much.  They readied my heart and my mind for motherhood.  I’m convinced of it.  There is a compassion that one learns when one cares for another.  Patience, tolerance, love, responsibility.  All these things are heightened.  Unconditional love.  They live it.  To experience it is an amazing and beautiful thing.  Yes, they taught me much.

I do believe that loving and caring for these creatures helped prepare me for motherhood, in more ways than one.  Given the fertility stumblingblocks I wrestled with, perhaps the experience of opening up, loving, and nurturing helped to allay some of the stress and havoc in my mind.  Stress can have such an impact to the delicate hormonal balance that determines whether or not an egg might be released.  I’m convinced of that.  (Of course, I don’t claim to have any medical basis for this.  I just believe it.  That is all.)

The weight of the actual responsibility that comes with the birth of a child is tremendous beyond expression.  I thought I was ready.  Completely prepared.  I’d waited my entire life for this.  Yet, when it happened, I realized that I knew nothing!  It was the most terrifying thing, the first few days of motherhood.  And in those days, I felt unable to care properly for my beautiful hounds, and a baby was new to them, and they both had a particularly strong prey drive.  (Prey drive can be an issue with greyhounds, so one must be vigilant in training and exposure to potential prey.  It’s the responsible thing.  Never take for granted that training will overcome instinct.)  The baby outprioritized the hounds, and I couldn’t give them the attention and care that they needed and deserved.  I decided to let them go.  Many tears were shed, but the good news is that both of them were re-adopted to fine homes that very day.  Within hours, even!  Neither one had to spend a night in a kennel.  For this, I am very thankful, and pleased.  And their new families received loads and loads of toys, bedding, and clothes.  (I had very well dressed hounds!)





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