Twenty-one years ago, not too many people outside of the dog racing industry would have been able to tell you that this was a greyhound. And, not just any greyhound – this was Comanche – my family’s first ex-racing greyhound.
This photograph was taken less than a month after we adopted him when he was still “race track skinny.”
How did 21 years pass so quickly?
It was such a learning time! There were so many dogs to figure out and people who understood dog behavior but had never been around greyhounds. We learned together.
“These are sighthounds,” we’d explain. “They hunt their prey by using their unbelievably keen vision to detect motion. They were brought over to this country to kill coyotes, not to race around a track. That came later.”
“Put them on a race track and they can easily do a 5 1/6th of a mile in under 30 seconds.”
We brought 200 or more ex-racing greyhounds into Rochester, NY in a seven year period. Some of them had really strong prey drives. These were the dogs we’d tag “no cats” when we were sorting through potential adopting families.
The local animal shelters would call us the few times that an ex-racer would get turned in. We were the safety net for the dogs.
Today, when I scroll web sites for some of the local animal shelters, one or two greyhound mix-breed dogs show up as available for adoption. And, I wonder about that.
As for the dog racing industry — it died in New Hampshire – where we used to pull dogs – and, as I understand it, it’s died in a lot of other places across the country. I don’t follow this as much as I used to.
quit resigned from my volunteer role as the Executive Director of the local chapter of the Greyhound Pets of America/NH organization after euthanizing my third ex-racing greyhound in less than 7 years. I had a hard time explaining to my son that the odds didn’t seem to be in our favor when it came to these dogs.
He thought that three years was the life expectancy of ALL dogs before they’d get bone cancer – and die. That’s a lot of heart ache to go through before you reach the age of twelve.
It was a world of heart ache for me and for my husband too. But, we got really good at taking care of dying dogs. And, there’s something to be said for that.