Greyhounds Make Grey-t Pets!

You've seen cute pictures of The Bark on my blog and some of you have even met him in person.  What you don't know, is that he's not only our pet/son, but also a representative of a cause that is very close to our hearts.

Corey and I decided early on that we would like to rescue greyhounds.  They are a calm, easygoing breed and they suit our lifestyle perfectly.  They also face inhumane conditions at the race tracks, which are shockingly still legal in some states. 
Greyhounds are a gentle and sensitive breed, and they are fiercely loyal to their families.  Barkley is polite but usually a little cold towards strangers, but he recognizes our family and friends and greets them with enthusiasm and plenty of tail wags.  He is also the easiest dog we have ever had and a solid member of our family.   
There are not many greyhounds around so people often stop us to ask about Barkley.  We always do our best to raise awareness about the breed and the cruelty of the racing industry.  Many people who have been to see races are shocked at what happens behind the scenes.  Barkley raced in Alabama and spent roughly 20 hours each day in a small crate.  He was emaciated when we got him and had several broken toes and injuries to his shoulders.  He raced for under two years (which is typical) and, once he was too injured to win races, he was of no use to the tracks.
Note: There is some disagreement even among greyhound owners about the level of cruelty involved in dog racing.  I express my own opinions here and, after our own research, we hope to see a day when dog racing is outlawed everywhere. 
That being said, nothing is "all good" or "all bad" and I have also heard of tracks that actively seek adoptions for retired greyhounds and even pay some medical bills.  Still, to me, an industry that exposes animals to unnecessary injury and even cruelty in some cases, (just for sport and entertainment) does not sit well with me. 
It's sad for us to think of our sensitive boy (who is cuddling on my legs as I write this) being left alone without affection or exercise in a hard crate in the Alabama heat.  It is even more upsetting to read about the dogs who don't find homes or who starve in their crates because their track closed down and they were just left without food or water. 
I'm not posting this to upset people... only to raise awareness about an industry that many people don't even realize is cruel. 
For us, rescuing greyhounds is a natural choice.  Galgos are a similar breed and face unthinkably cruel practices in Spain so we may also add a galgo to our family at some point.  Finally, we also know that black dogs and cats are the last to be adopted and so we will try to always rescue black dogs in our home.  Barkley gives us a chance to remind people of this and further raise awareness.
Most people know that greyhounds are an ancient breed and one of the fastest land mammals in the world.  In fact, here's a fun video about greys:
But today, I want to share some facts about greys that we have learned from Barkley:
1.  Greyhounds recognize their own breed!  It is truly amazing to see Barkley when he sees other greyhounds.  He tends to be a little snobby with other breeds but with greyhounds, he is affectionate, friendly and bossy... A totally different dog!

2.  Greyhounds are lazy.  They're retired, after all!  Barkley is a giant couch potato and he sleeps as much as a cat.  Sometimes, we need to drag him out of the house for the last walk of the day. :)  They also like to be comfortable...

We woke up yesterday to discover that Barkley wasn't in his bed in our room.  We quickly discovered him sleeping in the double bed in our guest room.  Barkley has decided that dog beds are no longer good enough and he would prefer to just sleep in the room next door... If he asks for a nightlight, we will officially have a three-year-old kid!

3.  Many greyhounds do well with cats and small animals.  Barkley has a high prey drive so we don't trust him with cats but he's very gentle with small (and even tiny) dogs!

4.  Greyhounds need to learn to climb stairs.   At the track, greyhounds live life on one level so when they find themselves in a family home, stairs can be scary.  We put runners on our stairs to make things easier for Barkley.
5.  Sometimes you'll forget they're even there.  Barkley rarely barks, sheds very little and doesn't wake us up for breakfast or even to go outside.  If we let him, he would just sleep all day.  Just give him a comfy bed and he'll hibernate.

6.  When a greyhound is very happy, they will sleep on their backs with their arms and legs in the air.  Barkley does this all the time and he will sometimes do it when we ask him to show us his tummy.
7.  Most greyhounds like squeeky, soft toys.  It's rare to see one playing with a ball.  Barkley is even pickier since he really only likes his moose.  We've been through several of these but it's his favourite and it comes everywhere with us.

8.  Greyhounds don't do well in very warm or very cold weather.  They have very little body fat to insulate them.  Also, they tend not to be great swimmers.

9.  Greyhounds will rarely sit.  Barkley came to us already well-behaved and a great leash walker (most do) but we never forced him to sit because it's not a comfortable position for him.  He still passed obedience school with flying colours!

Please consider this breed the next time someone you know is thinking of getting a dog.  Corey and I have agreed that we will sacrifice the fun of getting a puppy or choosing a dog based on colour to be able to help a cause we believe in.
We are actually considering becoming more involved in greyhound rescue by becoming a "foster family" to help transition dogs and provide a home while they wait for their forever home.  Nothing is set in stone just yet, but I'll keep you updated.

Until there are none, rescue one!

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