Thursday, July 28, 2005
As I mentioned in my profile, one of my 'men' includes a retired racing greyhound. His racing name was "Echol's Guard" but his foster home shortened it to "Echo" and we never changed it. He was born on January 29, 2002 and trained at a racetrack in Florida. His maiden season of racing ran from October to December 2003. Let's just say his heart wasn't in it.
Of 11 races, he came in 2nd three times. Doesn't sound too shabby, right? Unfortunately, he finished 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th once each and came in 8th (that's dead last) 4 times. If you'd like to see info re: his bloodline and racing history, visit the following website: www.greyhound-data.com. You'll need his name (above) and his ear tattoo number, which is 10626.
At some point in his career, he suffered an injury in which his tail was caught in the starting gate. To this day he's still skittish whenever someone is right behind him. The boo boo which he had when we adopted him in May 2004 is completely healed now, but the hair hasn't entirely grown back.
We first became familiar w/ the greyhound breed in April 2004 when we met several representatives of our local chapter of Greyhound Pets of America (www.greyhoundpets.org) at a Books-A-Million store. We have a young, hyper beagle but these giant, majestic, laid-back creatures were more my style. I did some research about the breed, filled out the adoption application and sent it with a nominal fee (which includes vet checkup, neutering, shots and more) to our local GPA chapter. After a home visit by a GPA rep, we were deemed worthy to adopt.
A couple of weeks later we received the call that several "greys" were being transferred from Florida to Louisiana. My middle son, Sam, and I went to the animal clinic to meet the greyhounds. I had it in my mind to adopt a smallish female but it didn't work out that way. Sam and I spent a lot of time in the pen with approximately 8 other dogs. Other families were there, some brought their other pets to find a compatible match. Ultimately Echo chose us. Everywhere Sam went, Echo went. Everything Sam looked at, Echo checked out. Echo wasn't interested in performing for the other potential adopters. He already made his choice.
So that's how I ended up with the largest male in the bunch. Just over a year later, I can tell you this: he's enjoying his retirement. He's not completely housebroken - altho' I think perhaps his problem might be related to nerves. Today, for example, he left a small puddle on my bedroom rug but it was during a major thunderstorm. He's very sweet, very gentle and a little shy. He doesn't climb on the furniture but loves to follow me around the house. He leans on you, which is the dog equivalent of a hug, I think. The first few times he 'hugged' Zachary (age 3 1/2), he nearly sent Zack through the wall.
Echo gets along great with his foster brother, Scout (a blue-tick beagle), but he doesn't understand the ways of a domestic dog since that's not the way Echo was brought up. I think Echo finds it undignified when Scout chases a frisbee or retrieves a ball. Although you should see Echo and Scout "race". Echo will run a few laps around the yard and Scout, bless his heart, will try every shortcut he can think of to beat the dog who can still run in excess of 40 miles per hours. (Greyhounds are built for speed but typically don't have a lot of stamina so they don't make great jogging partners unless it's a short run.)
Greyhounds sometimes sleep with their eyes open so if you move to pet one that's not fully awake, it's not unusual for a grey to snap. Echo is no exception. However, my boys learned early on not to approach Echo if he's laying down with his head on the ground.
Most greyhounds make excellent indoor pets (because they have such a low percentage of bodyfat, they're not suited for long stretches outdoors). I've also heard of greys referred to as the smallest large dog, and it's true. Our home is less than 1200 sf, yet Echo, despite his 70+ pounds, doesn't take up a lot of space. Keep in mind though, that these dogs have not had a typical 'puppyhood' and may have a few issues.
Echo likes to counter-surf, which is easy because of his height, but he responds to a gentle warning. If you're thinking about getting a pet, consider a greyhound. They do well even in condos and apartments as long as you take them for regular walks. And they really need the love and attention.