Adopting a Retired Racing Greyhoud

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Want a companion who’s chic and sleek, long-lived and shorthaired, and earns you good karma points to boot? Consider the retired racing greyhoud.

While many wonderful “recycled” dogs are seeking good homes, some may have behavior quirks that can challenge the novice dog owner. A retired greyhound, however, usually is available for one reason only: He or she just didn’t turn out to be the canine version of Secretariat.

What are greyhounds like? Generally speaking, when they’re not chasing a moving object, they’re typical house dogs. They come in lots of colors: fawn, white, black, brindle, blue–a lovely pewter gray–and combinations thereof. Their weight ranges from fifty-five to eighty-five pounds. They’re not much for barking at–or biting–the UPS man, but simply because of their large size, they can be decent burglar-deterrents. Usually, an adoptive greyhound has spent some time in a foster home to smooth the transition from racing ­kennel to suburban patio, so the canine’s temperament and house manners are a known quantity, and housebreaking is a breeze.

Like most dogs, greyhounds adapt to what’s expected of them. They’ll happily clown, chase toys, perform tricks, chew bones, or lie quietly at your feet and gaze longingly at your slice of pizza. Best of all, centuries of breeding for strength, speed, and longevity help greyhounds live twelve to sixteen years, a long time for large dogs. The typical greyhound, usually adopted between ages two and six years old, can still provide a good decade’s worth of puppy love.

On the other hand, greyhounds have a few special needs: a fenced yard and a brisk walk or jog several times a week to keep those amazing legs in shape. But no off-leash, unfenced scampers for these hounds: At top speeds of 45 mph, racers can see a rabbit and reach the next county before you can blink, and they’re not particularly good about finding their way home. Greyhounds also are thermally challenged. Without much in the way of body fat or coat, they can’t take temperatures below about forty degrees, so they need to be indoors at night and during winter in most climates.

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