For many people, greyhounds may be synonymous with office party nights out; with ‘going to the dogs’. For others, they are recognisable as those animal athletes dressed in coloured coats that we may gain a glimpse of on TV screens as we walk past our local bookies.
Ubiquitous yet at the same time, invisible to the average pet dog owner, greyhounds are both well-known and unknown to us. Jess Efford of Greyhound Rescue Wales explains more about ‘the dogs’.
The average greyhound is still born a racing dog. Although widely thought to be in decline, many thousands of greyhounds are still bred each year for the UK racing industry. Although their breeding and training would suggest that they would relish the race and chase, some don’t make the grade. Others still are injured during their preparation for racing – some fairly significantly. What this means is that thousands of dogs leave the industry each year and it is up to the rescue and rehoming organisations like Greyhound Rescue Wales to find companion homes for these dogs.
First and foremost, greyhounds are dogs, and like any other breed of dog, with 12,000 years of domestication by humans, they also make wonderful companions. Sensitive and watchful, greyhounds are naturally the ‘introverts’ of the dog world. Many seem to have a desire to connect with humans and, like any enduring relationship, once there is trust, they can be very demonstrative and loving. They are also the clowns, and can often be found sleeping on their backs with their legs in the air (a curious cat-like display known as ‘roaching’). As the second fastest land mammal, watching a greyhound at full stretch along a deserted beach is a mesmerising experience – and many do seem to enjoy running for the sheer joy of it.
Currently, there continue to be more ex-racers needing homes than homes coming forward. Some of these dogs have never raced; whereas others carry the physical and sometimes psychological scars of their former lives. Rehoming charities like Greyhound Rescues Wales are always in need of more foster carers and people to offer these dogs adoptive homes.
As a rule, greyhounds are very ‘foodie’ dogs, which makes them easy to motivate and lots of fun to train. Although there are breed traits common to most greyhounds, they are all individuals and may enjoy activities such as diverse as running, agility, hiking, trick training, scent work… basically anything that other breeds of dogs can also do.
In a similar trend to other sectors of the pet care industry, in recent years, understandings about positive dog training methodologies are now making their way to greyhound rescue and rehoming practices. This helps to make a greyhound’s transition from race dog to companion animal much smoother, and means that fosterers and adopters are better equipped to deal with the ups and downs of living with a rescue dog. Greyhound Rescue Wales recommend taking your newly adopted greyhound to a reward-based dog trainer and can recommend some in your area.
So, if you’ve looking for a canine companion, for nights in and days out, get in touch with your local greyhound rescue charity. They will guide and support you on your journey to transition one of “the dogs” to become your dog. After all, as those of us already captivated by these dogs know… there’s a greyhound for you.