Cup of Joe by Joe McParland

My Racing Greyhound, A ‘Greyt’ Part of My Life!

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Victoria is my adopted retired racing greyhound.

Go get yourself a ‘Cup of Joe’ and pull up a chair and let’s chat.  I want tell you about, Victoria, the four-legged girl who has stolen my heart. She just turned seven years old in December (49 in person years), yet has the energy, excitability and moves of a six month old puppy.

I have been a proud greyhound ‘parent’ since 1999 when Dagny and Galt – both brindle beauties – were welcomed into my home from their racing days in Wisconsin and New Hampshire, respectively. I enjoyed more than 13 years with them before they finally crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in 2012, just shy of their fifteenth birthdays.

By the end of April 2012, my grieving for their loss had levelled off enough for me to welcome a beautiful fawn-coloured greyhound, Victoria, into my home on Victoria.  She had finished her racing career in Alabama, and was only too happy to start her new life in Canada as a ‘forty mile per hour couch potato’.

Three months later she was joined by this big, goofy grey (blue) boy, Albert, whom she actually helped me select.  He, like Victoria, also did his racing in Alabama and it was quite likely that they may have competed against each other. Unfortunately, Albert was with us for far too short a time.  He died at the age of four in October 2013 from the dreaded osteosarcoma (bone cancer), a cancer that can occur in larger breed dogs.

Throughout my life I have been a companion animal lover. In addition to my four greyhounds, in the past 30 years my life has been blessed by felines’ Hadrian, Antinuous, Sarah and Ashley. All of them have brought me untold joy and happiness, and have very much affected my personal health and wellbeing.

But, the racing greyhound, these are the creatures that have truly smitten me. I love all breeds of dogs and encourage people to open their hearts and homes to them.  I especially encourage the adoption of dogs (and cats) through local shelters and our Windsor-Essex Humane Society. But, the racing greyhound is my passion.  Their nobility, their gentleness, and their classic beautiful features have captured my heart.  Let me share a few facts about greyhounds from one adoption agency’s website, Greyhounds for You

Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog in existence, they can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour over a short distance.

  • In 1014 AD the English Forest Laws stated that only noblemen could own and hunt with greyhounds. To kill a greyhound was punishable by death.
  • Racing greyhounds are bred for their speed, they are therefore not susceptible to the congenital defects or temperament problems of many other breeds. Only the fastest, healthiest and best tempered animals are generally used as breeding stock.
  • Queen Victoria and King Henry VIII kept greyhounds.
  • Generally, greyhounds are unable to sit. Some can manage to sit, but for most, it is physically impossible or at the very least extremely uncomfortable. In most cases the legs are too long and “muscled up” for a sit position to achieved.
  • The structure of a greyhound’s short and almost odourless coat, which only moults (coats in greyhound language) to a small degree means that greyhounds can be suitable to live successfully with people who are otherwise generally allergic to dogs.
  • The racing greyhound is commonly known as “45mph couch potatoes”. They can sprint very fast, but are equally as happy to snooze the day away. A greyhound has stereoscopic vision. This means that it is best suited to seeing moving objects. They often don’t see stationary objects – so when calling your greyhound back to you, you are best to be moving around. That way they can see and hear you.
  • The racing greyhound is the only breed of dog mentioned in The Bible. Proverbs 30, verses 29-31.
  • Caution – greyhounds can be highly addictive. Most commonly, once a greyhound owner, always a greyhound owner. Sometimes one greyhound pet expands to several at the same time.

So, if by now I have piqued your curiousity and interest in the greyhound, there are a few local Southern Ontario options of greyhound adoption agencies seeking to re-home these dogs.

First, there is GRA CANADAGreyhound Relocation and Adoption.  Located in a pastoral farm setting in the rolling hills of Mount Elgin, Ontario (a 20minute drive past London), GRA is where all four of my greys originated. The dogs are housed in a re-purposed barn, retrofitted with heating and cooling systems and large enough to segregate the male from the female dogs in their respective kennels. GRA Canada has been around for more than 30 years and continues to find homes for the retired greys who ‘immigrate’ from the US to Canada. A trip to GRA Canada can be a wonderful family experience.

Secondly, there is Greyhound Pets of America -Canada, located in Windsor, this group is relatively new – at least in the Windsor area. According to their Mission Statement, “Greyhound Pets of America – Canada (GPA-C) is an all-volunteer, charitable organization that is committed to finding responsible loving homes for retired Greyhounds, to ensure a smooth transition between racing life and home life, to acquaint the public with the desirability of Greyhounds as pets, and to inform them of the availability of Greyhounds for adoption.” They are a ‘greyt’ addition to our city!

If I haven’t convinced you yet why you might want to consider adopting a greyhound, let me leave you with this brief video from April 27, 2012 when I first met Victoria at GRA Canada and brought her back to be a most important part of my life…

The day I brought Victoria home, April 27, 2012 from Mount Elgin Ontario. What a beautiful girl! 

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