Guest Post by Elaine Webster
Midday at Greyhound Friends for Life, we arrive to pick up a two-year old dog. Jesse came from Colorado, where greyhound racing remains legal. Luckily, when the racetrack closed, the owners contacted several rescue groups to come for the dogs.
“This is the dog you told us about?” I asked Lita, the volunteer. “The buckin’ bronco?”
“Yeah, it took four strong men to lift him out of the van,” she said, handing me Jesse’s leash.
I reached down and took his graying muzzle into my hands and gazed into Jesse’s warm brown eyes. “Oh, you’re not so tough. Look at you . . . I bet you’d like to come live with me.” Jesse licked my hand, wagged his tail. At that moment, I knew we were a family.
Jesse is my second greyhound. The stories of life on the dog tracks drew me in twice. Our first greyhound, Quincy, died after two years from kidney failure, stemming from many years of poor nutrition at the tracks.
Unfortunately, Jesse came to me afraid of everything and everybody. I could only guess at the abuse he had suffered. Most ex-racers like Jesse, don’t know how to act in a loving home. They need to shown how.
“C’mon Jesse, you can do it,” I coached on the stairs, my husband, Blake, nudged Jesse from behind while I tugged gently from the front. Finally, Jesse took a full flight in three bounds—the only speed he knows—fast.
We’ve had Jesse ten years. He’s now calm and happy. Greyhound rescue is a special type of adoption, for people with a love for former racing dogs. Imagine puppies, weaned from their mothers too early, fed poor quality food, warehoused three levels high in kennels, and only released for training, racing, and bathroom breaks. By the time adoption groups get them, these dogs vary from extremely timid to fearful aggressive and everything in-between. There are so many needy dogs and so few homes.
Jesse’s day starts late and pauses every few hours for a nap. Greyhounds are sprinters—only cheetahs are faster. Just like the big cats, greyhounds run all out, then are content to live up to their other name—couch potato. And they look so cool.
All muscle, no fat and a thin coat, make them true house dogs. No rough and tumble life for them. Don’t even think about taking one backpacking, unless you’re ready to carry him most of the way. A walk once or twice a day is the standard exercise program.
Egyptians were the first known owners of the breed. Anubis, a mythological god, has a greyhound build with larger ears. European royalty paid fortunes for these dogs in the Middle Ages, to decorate their castles and manors.
Adopting a greyhound is often like walking with a celebrity. “Is that a greyhound?” will be the standard greeting.
People we pass, call, “He’s beautiful!”
Jesse takes the attention in stride. He knows like most greyhounds that looking good is enough to make us love them—and we do.