A Greyhound for Everyone

A Greyhound for Everyone (almost)

by Kym ní Dhoireann (copyright 1999-2012 © Kym ní Dhoireann)
republished by permission from the original article

Sometimes going back to reread things I’ve written I question my statements. However recently we went to the kennel and I walked 10 hounds (in pairs) and doing that alone reaffirmed my belief in what I write here….10 hounds, not two were a like. Some were bouncy and happy, some were bold and take-charge, some were quiet and almost clingy. Some responded to us as if we were long lost friends, others were reserved but quietly accepting of our presence. Some wanted to bound along ahead of me, others wanted to walk quietly clinging to my side. Yes, there are many personalities.

As you read through a variety of Greyhound sites, both adoption groups and personal pet pages, or go to demos given by many groups you may find a lot of “Greyhounds are……” “Greyhounds aren’t……..” statements. Usually what they are is docile, quiet couch potatoes, very loving, good with kids and cats. What they aren’t are good guard dogs, in need of lots of grooming or exercise, or obedience champs. Personally (and this IS just my personal opinion, after all and should not reflect on anyone else) such statements do a great disservice to the great variety of Greyhound personalities and to the many folks who may think that Greyhounds are not right for them. (And, as a personal trainer, I suppose I feel the “not needing lot’s of exercise” statement is a disservice to everyone.)

Unfortunately, this very narrow description of “what all Greyhounds are” means that many people who could find a great Greyhound for their lives don’t consider them because they are looking for something not fitting this description, something with a lot of energy, that is bold, that can go and have adventures with them. On the flip side, this means that a lot of Greyhounds are difficult to adopt, because they vary from the “ideal.” These hounds and humans might be matched if we were all more honest about how diverse these dogs really are.

When we adopted Irony, she didn’t fit much of the Greyhound “absolutes” and we had not been looking for one who did. She barks, she is afraid of children, she is very bold and aggressive (not in a ferocious sense, but in the “I’m here, worship me now!” sense). She was well mannered for the most part, um, except when greeting people as she’s rather exuberant. When we brought Bran here, he turned out to be very much the opposite of Irony. He is quiet except when crated (not having been a track dog, he was never crated before and is better about it now), somewhat timid at first (and with poor manners, both these things are mostly in the past, he’s a overbearing greeter now too), LOVES kids (good thing we have friends with them and take them out a lot, we have no plans in that direction), rather submissive MOST of the time with a bit of a brattiness in wanting what ever Irony has and often stealing it when he has a chance. Both are rather high prey drive…but where Irony hunts for something to chase constantly, Bran only shows interest when he sees “prey” running and is much more accepting about it if he cant give chase. He loves to play frisbee too……playing the game, knowing to bring it back. These two exemplify how different two canines of the same breed can be, and neither are exactly fit the description of “what all Greyhounds are like.” Scolaighe on the the other hand isn’t an exuberant greeter of strangers, she’s very reserved…yet very accepting of attention. With us she’s quiet, but clingy, leaning on us when we’re standing or cuddling us or Bran when lying down.

No, you aren’t likely to get a guard dog in a Greyhound, although there is a grand range from the very bold in personality to the very timid. You absolutely will not get a dog that is dependable off lead in an unfenced area, unless they have a lure to chase (and there are those who believe that that is too risky, although I will take the chance to let my hounds get to chase the “bunny.”) Many Greyhounds are great with cats and kids, others may be too high prey drive to live with a cat and others may be afraid of small children possibly having never seen them before their retirement…..these are very important traits to find out about if you have either before adopting any breed. . And depending on age and health, they can use a lot of exercise…I’m not talking full out runs, I’m talking daily walks with possible full out runs now and then. They might survive without it and it seems a lot do, but like any animal it won’t be in its best interest to get none at all (that includes you…..er, sorry got to take my professional hat off again). If you can’t manage several walks a day or have a place to run them, you may wish to consider adopting an older Greyhound who may need or even require shorter walks….but don’t make the mistake that EVERY older Greyhound would be satisfied with short walks and no runs. Some remain quite active into old age. And many Greyhounds have proven themselves as obedience dogs…..oh, it might take a bit more work than with a breed that is renown for listening to humans, but it’s been done.

They are all, however, couch potatoes for much of the day……but then, what adult dog isn’t at least part of the day? No matter what a dog might be up to when it’s awake, rest is required to keep it ready for it’s next adventure. Heavy duty, very serious rest. But it shouldn’t be the only thing in their lives.

Chances are that there is a Greyhound out there for any responsible potential dog owner, barring someone who really needs to have a dog that can go off lead. The important thing is to really meet as many of the dogs and know what you are looking for. If you want an athlete you can do agility or lure coursing with; if you want a quiet companion that will curl up with you and go for gentle walks; if you want a shy creature, a bit-cat like, that will bond to you and only you; if you want an exuberant, outgoing, friend-to-everyone; if you are looking for a wilderness hiking companion; if you want an focused show-off that will shine in obedience; if you want a hyper active clown that will entertain you by flinging toys about the house likely there is one waiting for you out there. I’ve met Greyhounds that fit all of these descriptions. Some more than one.

Most adoption kennels have a lot of Greyhounds available and will let you meet several that they pick out based on what you tell them (so don’t be shy, especially if you have a lot of specifics). Bring the whole family to meet them, see how they interact with the kids; bring any dogs you already have too. Forget about how pretty it is, what color it is, and think about how well it will fit into your life.

Adopting a pet is a lifelong commitment, however, no matter the pet, some just live longer than others. It should always be considered carefully and the personality of the pet is a key issue. Adopting a pet you return after weeks or even years does the animal no real good. Being committed to taking care of it for its life and getting one you can live with are vital. And NO dog, of any breed, is PERFECT. There is no such thing. Any dog of any breed can have accidents, can become ill, can develop emotional problems, costs money in food and vet bills, requires time and attention from its person… You must be committed to see through any problems that come up, not matter what breed you end up choosing. If you want perfection in a dog, there are some very nice statues available on many locations on the web.

If you only wish to adopt because you want to “rescue” a dog, please reconsider. You must want a dog, and you must want the dog you get to truly help. Again, if you later return the dog you have done more damage than good….the dog will be heartbroken, and older dogs are harder to get adopted. You might want to consider contributing to an adoption kennel or even volunteering if you realize that you can not make a life commitment to a dog. Every little bit that is going forward helps, but going backwards for what ever reason does not.

Of course, if you are someone who has a lot of dog experience and can handle personality conflicts and be very committed to a pet no matter what, there are also dogs that are even “less than perfect” who may be too spooky, for instance, for many new Greyhound owners to work with. With a little work sometimes these “problem children” make the best companions. And there is something really special about watching an animal that has “issues” work through them and start to shine. After the first one, many Greyhounds owners find that they are less picky on the next (and the next…), being more prepared to make the commitment to work through issues to take in a “loser” to keep it for life.