This breed has never been asked to do anything for itself, make any
decisions or answer any questions. It has been waited on, paw and
tail. The only prohibition in a racing Greyhound's life is not to
get into a fight -- or eat certain stuff in the turnout pen.
Let us review a little. From weaning until you go away for
schooling, at probably a year and a half, you eat, grow and run
around with your siblings. When you go away to begin your racing
career, you get your own "apartment," in a large housing
development. No one is allowed in your bed but you, and when you are
in there, no one can touch you, without plenty of warning.
Someone hears a vehicle drive up, or the kennel door being unlocked.
The light switches are flipped on. The loud mouths in residence,
and there always are some, begin to bark or howl. You are wide
awake by the time the human opens your door to turn you out. A
Greyhound has never been touched while he was asleep.
You eat when you are fed, usually on a strict schedule. No one asks
if you are hungry or what you want to eat. You are never told not
to eat any food within your reach. No one ever touches your bowl
while you are eating. You are not to be disturbed because it is
important you clean your plate.
You are not asked if you have to "go outside." You are placed in a
turn out pen and it isn't long before you get the idea of what you
are supposed to do while you are out there. Unless you really get
out of hand, you may chase, rough house and put your feet on
everyone and everything else. The only humans you know are
the "waiters" who feed you, and the "restroom attendants" who turn
you out to go to the bathroom. Respect people? Surely you jest.
No one comes into or goes out of your kennel without your knowledge.
You are all-seeing and all-knowing. There are no surprises, day in
and day out. The only thing it is ever hoped you will do is win,
place or show, and that you don't have much control over. It is in
your blood, it is in your heart, it is in your fate-- or it is not.
And when it is not, then suddenly you are expected to be a
civilized person in a fur coat. But people don't realize you may not
even speak English. Some of you don't even know your names, because
you didn't need to. You were not asked or told to do anything as
an individual; you were always part of the "condo association"; the
sorority or fraternity and everyone did everything together, as a
group or pack. The only time you did anything as an individual is
when you schooled or raced, and even then, You Were Not Alone.
Suddenly, he is expected to behave himself in places he's never
been taught how to act. He is expected to take responsibility for
saying when he needs to go outside, to come when he is called, not
to get on some or all of the furniture, and to not eat food off
counters and tables. He is dropped into a world that is not his, and
totally without warning, at that.
Almost everything he does is wrong. Suddenly he is a minority. Now
he is just a pet. He is unemployed, in a place where people expect
him to know the rules and the schedule, even when there aren't any.
(How many times have you heard someone say, "He won't tell me when
he has to go out." What kind of schedule is that?) Have you heard
the joke about the dog who says, "My name is No-No Bad Dog. What's
yours?" To me that is not even funny. All the protective barriers
There is no more warning before something happens. There is no
more strength in numbers. He wakes up with a monster human face two
inches from his. (With some people's breath, this could scare
Godzilla.) Why should he not, believe that this "someone," who has
crept up on him, isn't going to eat him for lunch? (I really do
have to ask you ladies to consider how you would react if someone
you barely knew crawled up on you while you were asleep?) No, I will
not ask for any male input.)
Now he is left alone, for the first time in his life, in a strange
place, with no idea of what will happen or how long it will be
before someone comes to him again. If he is not crated, he may go
though walls, windows or over fences, desperately seeking something
familiar, something with which to reconnect his life. If he does
get free, he will find the familiarity, within himself: the
adrenaline high, the wind in his ears, the blood pulsing and racing
though his heart once again--until he crashes into a car.
Often, the first contact with his new family is punishment,
something he's never had before, something he doesn't understand
now, especially in the middle of the rest of the chaos. And worst
of all, what are the most common human reactions to misbehavior? We
live in a violent society, where the answer to any irritation is a
slap, punch, kick, whip, or rub your nose in it. Under these
circumstances, sometimes I think any successful adoption is a
He is, in effect, expected to have all the manners of at least a
six-year old child. But, how many of you would leave an unfamiliar
six-year old human alone and loose in your home for hours at a time
and not expect to find who knows what when you got back? Consider
that if you did, you could be brought up on charges of child abuse,
neglect and endangerment. Yet, people do this to Greyhounds and
this is often the reason for so many returns.
How many dogs have been returned because they did not know how to
tell the adopter when they had to go out? How many for jumping on
people, getting on furniture, counter surfing, separation anxiety,
or defensive actions due to being startled or hurt (aka growling or
biting)? So, let's understand: Sometimes it isn't the dog's "fault"
he cannot fit in. He is not equipped with the social skills of a six-
year old human but you can teach him. With love."
~From Kathleen Gilley~
I have read this before and wanted to share this. It is so true.
The first greyhound I had, Gemini, was straight off the track. He was also the first dog I ever had. It was a joy and a challenge to train him. I have since had 4 greyhound and have fostered many more. Greyhounds are quick to learn and want to please.
Now that I know things, the joy of watching a greyhound learn that carpet is comfortable is so much fun. Teaching one how to navigate stairs is worthwhile, but frustrating. Watching one learn what a mirror is, well that is just hilarious. Watching them develop their personalities outside of the kennel is one of the greatest pleasures I've had.
Unfortunately, I am not in a position to foster greyhounds right now. But as soon as I can, I will be fostering again! The joy from fostering is so worth everything and the things the dogs taught me were priceless.