One hundred years ago, as I was graduating veterinary school at Colorado State University, I made a promise. I promised that if I ever had the opportunity, I would give back to the greyhound breed. Back then, otherwise healthy greyhounds met a less than desirable fate if they wouldn’t run or chase on the racetrack. My first exposure to greyhounds was in veterinary school anatomy lab and to greyhounds housed for blood donation due to their universal blood type. Luckily, these days, greyhound adoption has gained popularity and more of these dogs are placed with families when not fit to race or after a racing career.
In the spring of 2018, my family found ourselves “pet free” for the first time and decided to look into greyhound ownership. I had seen a handful of greys in practice, was familiar with their differences in physiology, and was struck by their quiet, seemingly aloof natures. I had heard people refer to them as more cat than dog-like.
The large majority of greyhounds owned by the public come from organized adoption kennels that work with the racing industry to place these animals. We found such a place called “Project Racing Home” a couple hours away in Randleman, NC.
When we contacted the organization we were given reading recommendations and an extensive application. We were cautioned not to fall in love with a specific grey we may see online but to be open minded to the “best match” for our home and lifestyle. Although I’m a veterinarian–I must admit, I found Greyhounds for Dummies to be most enlightening!
After further reading about the needs of a retired racer, and an application approval (whew!), we set out on the journey to Randleman to visit the Project Racing Home greyhounds. 4-5 greys had been preselected and matched with us to visit (I would have loved to have taken them all!). When “Like it Like That” was brought out, we clicked instantaneously, and after a walk through the grounds with her, knew she was the one. It was difficult saying goodbye, as she would need to be spayed prior to coming home with us. I’ll admit, I was one of “those clients”–constantly calling on the day of her surgery to find out if she “lived through it”!! Several days later we made the trek back to Randleman and took our girl (now named “Lykke”) permanently home with us.
Lykke, like most immediately retired greys, knew nothing of a home, toys, treats, ponds, other dog breeds, children, windows and stairs. She appeared utterly overwhelmed. She did come well crate trained, as greys live in crates between turnouts on the track, however her first few nights away from all the other greys were rough. And vocal. GI disturbances were also common the first month (this is where being a vet DID come in handy). We discovered Lykke had severe food intolerances and like many of your pets, required a special prescription diet.
Over the months, as Lykke became more secure and sure of her new home, she slowly came out of her shell. This transformation was incredible and rewarding to watch. All the “comfortable” behaviors I read about in Greyhounds for Dummies were occurring before our eyes: sleeping on the couch 22 hours/day, “roaching”, “huffing”, tongue hanging out to side, learning to play with toys, “zoomies”, and finally the ability to snooze and snuggle without “sleep aggression”. Not a day goes by that we don’t laugh at some new “diva” behavior, disdainful facial expression or expectation that the ENTIRE sofa is hers.
While this breed is very different than most and not without its quirks, prey drive, idiosyncracies, and alien-like tendencies….it has been an absolute joyous adventure adopting a grey. A bonus has been meeting the grey community which are great (if not a bit eclectic!) folks.
If you’ve ever considered adopting a grey, or would like more information about the breed, feel free to send me an email. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have!
—–Dr. Jennifer Kimmel