Greyhound Adoption – The 10 Best And Worst Things That Can Happen to You

"Three ex-racing greyhounds running"

“Catch me if you can”

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 20 years since my wild and crazy, ex-racing greyhound adoption days. And they were wild and crazy times. At its most crazed, three women jumped into a red BMW and sped off to one of the more questionable neighborhoods in the city of Rochester in search of a lost greyhound.

We looked like a female swat team out to make a drug bust.

At its most inspiring, those same three women stood at the top of an enormous, fenced back yard (it was easily the size of two football fields -none of it flat. All of it a steep hillside.) They stood at the top, watching as more than 20 retired greyhounds chased each other in wildly explosive bursts of speed.

We had ourselves some happy times, some sad times; some spitfully mad-awful, furious times. Some hilariously funny times and, some life-changing moments.

Here are the Cliff Notes – the shortened version – of the very best and the very worst that might just happen to you (if you take the journey into dog rescue) because it sure as hell happened to me.

You’ll fall in love.  Well, you already knew this one, right?  If  ex-racing greyhounds are your first introduction to sighthounds,  you will be absolutely starstruck

You’ll learn to think of yourself as invincible.  This can happen on your first road trip when you discover that the 1976 Chevy Malibu wagon you’re driving has some iffy mechanical issues and you really should turn around and go home. But. You. Don’t.

You’ll get really good at thinking on your feet:  What’s the best way to calm down 6 greyhounds all milling around in the back seat of that ’76 Chevy Malibu station wagon during a pee stop for one of the humans at a rest stop on the way back home with the engine running because if you turn it off, you might not be able to start it up again?

Just exactly what I did became an urban legend among those of us who helped to get this adoption movement up and running back in the day. Wanna know what I did?

Ask me.

You’ll see things you’ve never seen before:  1) the lightning bolt speed of racing greyhounds at the start of a race, 2) the inside of racing kennels and holding pens 3) greyhounds tethered to stakes near igloo dog houses in a farmer’s field in February with over 6 inches of snow on the ground and more coming down as you stand there in disbelief because you are not at a racetrack pulling dogs  – you are deep in the back woods of western New York.

You’ll learn new skills:  how to politely explain to a kennel owner why you are not going to take the 3 year old female greyhound that is shaking uncontrollably into your adoption program. Two years later, you’ll refuse to take another greyhound – this one a 12 week old puppy with a broken hip.

You don’t take it but, this time, before leaving the kennel, you’ll call around to find an adoption group that can and you offer to help with the transport. You reach Cynthia Branigan (Make Peace With Animals) with one phone call and she agrees to take the pup.

You’ll make new friends.   I’m grateful for all of the folks I got to know on this 7 year journey.  Some of us still keep in touch. Some not.  What I’m proudest of is that 20-plus years later, this organization keeps going.

The group has re-invented itself many times: those of us who founded the organization are no longer involved; the group is no longer an affiliate of Greyhound Pets of America, and the cycle of placing retired hounds into pet homes has changed as the racing industry itself has died off.

All of that said, there is still a structure in place and dogs are still being adopted.

You’ll learn to speak dog.  You’ll learn about dog behavior from other dog lovers and you’ll learn about ex-racing greyhound behavior from the people inside the racing industry, from the hard-core volunteers, from past owners and, most importantly, from the dogs themselves. Almost before you realize its happened, you just might be one of those hard-core volunteers yourself.

You’ll learn what to say to a foster family when they come home to find out that the dog they were fostering bit their 6 month old baby in the face.

You may find a new hobby or start a small business. One of the women who helped run this organization went on to competitive agility trials, getting out of living with sight hounds because she fell in love with Border Collies. Still another of us started an online greyhound boutique gift e-commerce store that she ran successfully for almost five years.

You’ll piss people off.  You’ll piss off a potential adopting family that has 1) no fenced in yard,  2) no dog experience, 3) and three children under the age of 10 when you strongly suggest that they call you back when their youngest child is 12 years old and they’ve fenced their yard.

You’ll piss off some of your volunteers when you and the core founders of your merry band insist that a two year old male greyhound be euthanized because he bit a total of 10 times in less than a 48 hour time frame while in foster care.

You’ll piss off some of the general public when you insist on maintaining the neutral position on racing that the parent Greyhound Pets of America organization has incorporated into its bylaws.

You’ll get pissed off.  You’ll get pissed off when dogs die because their owners were careless stupid.

Finally, when you euthanize three greyhounds (your own) over a 7 year period due to the ravages of bone cancer,   you’ll decide that it’s time to go back to being a private citizen. You know that you’d do everything all over again just to have these three dogs.  But, your very young son thinks that having a pet means bringing an adult dog into the house only to have it die three years later.

That’s too much heartache for a little boy.  Too much heartache for anyone.

Would I change just one thing if I could go back in time? Hell yes! I’d listen more to what the dogs were telling me. Because, every single time I failed to hear them, something bad happened.

PS I’ve written a longer version of how I helped to start one of the first retired greyhound adoption programs in Rochester, NY as a chapter in my first book. If you want to know when that book is published (and how you can get it for free), opt-in to my subscriber’s box up at the top of my blog and stay tuned! 








  1. VWolf says

    Thank you for all the great work you ‘ve done for greyhounds. Adoption will always be needed as long as dog racing is still around.

    Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane. Greyhounds endure lives of nearly constant confinement, kept in cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. While racing, many dogs suffer and die from injuries including broken legs, paralysis, and cardiac arrest. And many greyhounds are euthanized every year, as the number retired from racing exceeds the number of adoptive homes.

    At racetracks across the country, greyhounds endure lives of confinement. According to industry statements, greyhounds are generally confined in their cages for approximately 20 hours per day. They live inside warehouse-style kennels in stacked cages that are barely large enough to stand up or turn around. Generally, shredded paper or carpet remnants are used as bedding.

    An undercover video recently released by GREY2K USA shows the conditions in which these gentle dogs are forced to live:

    For more information on injuries these dogs suffer, please view:

    Dogs play an important role in our lives and deserve to be protected from industries and individuals that do them harm.

    VWolf Board Member, GREY2K USA

    • htkhp says

      And, thank you for taking the time to reply in such detail so that if any of my readers want to take an in-depth look at the racing industry as it stands today, they may do so.
      If you did the math, you’ll have figured out that I was active in greyhound adoption more than 20 years ago. It was as emotional then as it continues to be today. As it happens,
      you’ll get no argument from me about the role that dogs play in our lives and about how we need to protect not just racing greyhounds but all dogs, pure and random bred.

      One of the hardest things for volunteers in any of the Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) chapters was accepting the neutrality stand of this organization. We focused on educating the public
      about what great pets retired greyhounds make and refused to get into heated arguments about the racing industry itself. I didn’t say that this was an easy stance to take, but for those
      of us who went the distance (which I did for 7 years until, quite frankly, I burned out), it was how we rolled.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read my post and to comment. It means a lot to me.

  2. says

    What a great contribution you made to those beautiful animals. But yes, that would be too much heartache for me, too. Great to know the work you started continues.

  3. says

    Kathy! You are such a dynamo–but sadly, I’m afraid your email is rejecting me! I wondered if you had an alternate email address where we could communicate. I couldn’t think of another way to get in touch with you and am sorry to have had to leave a comment like this, but I didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you — or GASP! HORROR — that I had forgotten you. As if!

    • htkhp says

      Oh, my goodness! Aren’t you the resourceful one for contacting me here. I’ll resend my email to you and we can pick up our delightful conversation on g-mails dime. I’m busily writing my
      review of Two Seeing Eye Dogs Take Manhattan, by Lloyd Burlingame and have a question for you. Stay tuned….

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