Health – Why Dentistry is Important

This is Quincy:

He was turned over to our group recently.

This is what Quincy’s mouth looked like when he was turned over to us.

This is a photo of Quincy’s teeth; they were in his mouth until recently.

Quincy is a perfect example of what happens when an adopter does not take the time to take care of his greyhound. When we took Quincy in, we were told that his teeth were “normal for a greyhound.” We didn’t question much. All we wanted was to bring him to our group and help him after his adopter asked us if our group would take him.

When we took him, it only took one minute to smell the horrible breath coming from Quincy. When we looked into his mouth, we were sick. We could tell by the black tartar and the shrunken and red gum line that this dog was in trouble.

We immediately made an appointment with our vet and within two days, Quincy was getting his dental. We knew that it would be bad. But we were sick and shocked to learn that Quincy lost all but four teeth! Quincy is six years old and he had been in his home for three years.

We don’t know why his adopter was able to overlook the obvious. We know from what our vet told us that Quincy had to have been in a lot of pain for a long time. He drooled constantly which was how the mouth tried to compensate for the pain. He also took a long time to eat. He had to have felt immense pain each time he tried to eat.

His teeth were not “pulled”. They popped out of his mouth when the tool the vet used for cleaning off the tartar was used. Only three of the larger teeth actually had to be pulled.

PLEASE take the time and make the effort to keep your hound’s teeth clean. Find ways to keep the teeth free of tartar. If they don’t like having their teeth brushed, find some other way to clean the teeth. There are products on the market that will help keep tartar from building up. Save the money for a dental. Yes, dentals can be expensive. But, what is the cost to the dog? How costly is it to watch a fairly young dog lose all but a few teeth in his mouth just because someone didn’t take the time or want to spend the money to keep his teeth in good shape? How much time and effort would it have been to prevent what happened.

Maybe it would have happened anyway. Yes, some greyhounds have bad teeth. Some are prone to having problems. Blame it on genetics, etc. That is not the point. It is no excuse for a dog to suffer pain. Bad teeth can cause many other medical problems.

If Quincy could talk, we are sure that he would be pleading for every person who has adopted a greyhound to do the right thing. His mouth is healing quickly because those teeth were ready to come out. He is happy and healthy now and has a great appetite. He won’t ever be able to chew on the bones he picks up but he’ll find some enjoyment from carrying them around. He will miss out on some things a dog loves to do. But he’ll be OK. And no thanks to the person who was given Quincy in return for a promise take care of him.

Rainbow Bridge – Roseline (Zoe)

September 26, 2002 – August 15, 2010

We are saddened to report that yet another member of the FFGR, Inc. family has lost one of their beloved greyhounds. We received word from Nancy Benny informing us that she and Mark lost one of their greyhounds Zoe.

Zoe was adopted by Mark and Nancy in June of 2006. We had first placed Zoe in a home with a retired couple. What we didn’t know is that they babysat for their grandchildren who were very small and active. One of the grandchildren jumped on the bed where Zoe was sleeping and woke her up in a start and she snapped at the child. Zoe was returned immediately.

Mark and Nancy were looking for a second greyhound and met Zoe at the Walk-n-Wag in Frederick. They fell in love with her and called us later to ask if they could adopt her. We said “YES!”

Mark and Nancy were one of the very first families that adopted from us when we first started our group. They have adopted four dogs altogether from us. They are very special people. They have always been our most loyal volunteers and family members since the beginning. They have been to so many of our events and have constantly been there when we asked them for help. They are salt of the earth people.

They love their greyhounds and we know that they are the best of the best. Zoe started limping this past week and went dowhill very quickly. A trip to a specialist revealed in an x-ray that she had a shadow along her spine and near her rectum that was probably cancerous. Within a short period of time she could not walk. Mark and Nancy made the painful decision to let her go.

They are sad to have lost Zoe and we mourn with them. But we know that these people are the type of people who love and cherish and care deeply for their greyhounds. Nancy’s mom has adopted a greyhound from our group too. Zoe had the most wonderful home – the type of home we hope to find for every greyhound we place.

Mark and Nancy are coming to Dewey this year and I told them about our FFGR get together. I think if you have not met them you are certainly in for a wonderful experience. We love them and know that Zoe is romping at the Rainbow Bridge looking for all the others and happy to be waiting for her wonderful family to join her.

Godspeed Zoe; know that you were greatly loved.

Adoption – The Other Half of the Contract

Since we organized our non-profit adoption group five years ago, we’ve gone through some growing pains and have made some greyt changes over that period to help us operate better and work better on behalf of the greyhounds placed in our care.

We feel that we have been extremely successful in placing most greyhounds into good and forever homes. We are proud to report that we have consistently maintained a low return rate. That is because we screen adoption applications carefully, conduct home visits, talk to prospective adopters at length, provide lots of reading materials and other information to help an adopter learn more about the greyhound breed, profile and foster all of our hounds and make sure that the being placed fits into the adoptive home. The point is to find the dog its “forever” home.

All adopters must sign an Adoption Contract. The dictionary defines the word contract as : an agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit known as consideration. Since the law of contracts is at the heart of most business dealings, it is one of the three or four most significant areas of legal concern and can involve variations on circumstances and complexities. The existence of a contract requires finding the following factual elements: a) an offer; b) an acceptance of that offer which results in a meeting of the minds; c) a promise to perform; d) a valuable consideration (which can be a promise or payment in some form); e) a time or event when performance must be made (meet commitments); f) terms and conditions for performance, including fulfilling promises; g) performance.

We offer a lot to adopters. Our half of the adoption contract is to provide the adopter with a dog that will fit their application as well as the following:

Transportation of the dog to our group from our suppliers and/or foster caregivers
Spaying or Neutering
All up-to-date immunizations
All available veterinarian records
Dental
Worming and Flea/Tick treatment
Heartworm test
Track records/pedigree if available
Greyhound collar and lead
Greyhound muzzle
FFGR, Inc. Identification Tag and Number
A Copy of Retired Racing Greyhounds
for Dummies OR Adopting The Racing
Greyhound
Fast Friends Adopter’s Guide
Food to last through a period of transition
AND Lots of Surprises (like toys, bones, treats etc.)
Membership invitation to our private on line forum
Adoption folder with lots of special greyhound related handouts

AND we provide support for the adopter. We do not take the adoption fee and disappear. We feel that what we offer is an excellent package. The profiling we do is so precise, that we can find a dog for adopters with specific requirements (cat safe and child safe). We make sure that every dog that needs to be cat and child safe actually lives in a foster home with cats and children so that we know the dog will be a great fit.

We spend so much time trying to work with adopters to find the perfect dog for them, that sometimes we don’t think seriously enough about the other half of the contract! What should an adopter commit to the dog and our group in return for trusting them with a dog! What is their obligation which is outlined in the other half of the adoption contract? What does the adopter have to do to make the contract valid and work for both parties?

Here are the requirements we ask of adopters when they adopt. These are the elements of the contract that they are required to fulfill:

Adopter will provide all necessary care and kind treatment for the dog throughout its life
Adopter will always use a leash and not allow the greyhound to run free
Adopter will not abuse or neglect the greyhound; FFGR, Inc. can investigate any reports
Adopter will return the greyhound only to FFGR, Inc. (fee not returnable)
Adopter will train the dog to live in the home (i.e., alone training, behavioral training)
Adopter will not use the dog for business, medical or experimental purposes
Adopter will complete house training started by FFGR, Inc. in foster care
Adopter will keep all other animals in the house up to date with vaccinations
Adopter will monitor and keep safe all small animals coming in contact with the greyhound and provide proper training
Adopter will inform FFGR, Inc. if the greyhound is lost or injured

While the elements of the adoption contract are excellent and we feel attainable by all adopters, we often have no way of knowing for sure if the other half of the adoption contract is being fulfilled. Since we cannot go into every home and monitor what is happening, we can only encourage people to keep in touch with us and let us know how the dog is doing. We have no other way of proving that the dog is getting the proper food, medical care, and if people are even complying with the laws in their communities regarding animals.

It seems like the “other half of the contract” becomes unenforceable. While we fulfill our half of the contract (we will hear about it if someone has a problem), we seldom know what is going wrong until we receive word that a dog is being returned.

We have been pondering how to make sure that the other half of the contract is being fulfilled. We have tightened up our adoption requirements and are more careful about where we place dogs. We are now in the process of making sure that a dog that is not being properly cared for will be found and those returning dogs will have to return them in the condition they were in when adopted. That means: up to date with shots, clean teeth, etc. We are developing a more stringent and enforceable return policy that will become a part of the adoption contract that will have to be reviewed and agreed upon prior to adoption. By signing the adoption contract, the adopter will know what is expected when they adopt a greyhound. There will also be no uncertainties about what is expected at the time of a return. Adopters will be given the chance to “opt out” of the adoption if they feel that they cannot meet the requirements set forth in the adoption contract. Those signing the contract will be held accountable, legally, financially and morally.

The mission of our organization is to find forever homes for greyhounds retiring from the tracks when they are done racing. Our organization was never set up to pay for the responsibilities that the adopter agreed to when they adopted a dog from our organization. We know that sometimes there is a good reason for a return. But when we have a dog returned with vet care required, we must spend our hard earned funds fulfilling some one else’s half of the adoption contract. We are working hard to make sure this will not happen. We are making preparations to make sure that no returning dog will have to endure the trauma of being returned but also require vet care to make it healthy again. Our obligation is to the dogs first. And we will meet this goal head on.

Rainbow Bridge – Nita Sue Dawn (Hope)

January 9, 2004 – August 16, 2010

It is with sincere sadness and shock that we have to report the loss of a wonderful and sweet greyhound. Here is the email we received:

All summer I’ve been meaning to write to you and tell you how wonderful Hope was doing and now I am writing to tell you that this morning during a routine dental cleaning she went into heart failure and passed. We are devastated. Dr. Roberts of Hillside Veterinary was doing her cleaning. She was healthy, so we are unsure as to what happened. Once my mind has settled some I hope to find out better what went wrong. Her heart was as big as all outdoors. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. Her work as a Therapy pet was her joy. I had visions of being with her for so many more years! Remember her today as she heads for the Rainbow Bridge.
Thank you for bringing her into our lives, though my heart is breaking right now, I know I am better for the time she had with us.
Kimberley Huff

We are so saddened by this news. Kimberley and Thomas Huff are wonderful people. Hope has worked as a Therapy dog at the County Meadows village since she was adopted. Thomas is the chaplain there. He also did the blessing of the hounds for us at our 2008 picnic. They truly loved Hope. They wrote an article for our newsletter about Hope shortly after they adopted her and we are posting it below:

A Time For Hope!

Hope arrived at our home on May 25th, 2008. Just two short days later, Hope joined my husband, Thomas, on his daily duties as Chaplain for Country Meadows of Frederick. She took to her life as “Assistant Chaplain” immediately!

The nuts and bolts of becoming a Therapy Pet are pretty simple. Thomas and Hope took the obedience class, Patty, our trainer, went online and downloaded all the information on Therapy Pets, Inc; including their testing procedure. Patty was able to conduct the test for us, as there are no Therapy Pet, Inc, testers in this area. We then obtained 3 letters of reference, had our vet sign that all of Hope’s shots were up to date and sent it all to Therapy Pets, Inc in Cheyenne Wy. Country Meadows requires that Hope also have the AKC Good Citizen certification and we will do that at a later date. Being a part of Therapy Pets, Inc not only offers Thomas & Hope liability coverage for the off campus visits, it also offers the facilities she will visit the assurance that Hope is trained and that her medical records are current. Therapy Pets, Inc also offers points and tips on how to train your pet to be a therapy pet.

While Hope was going through obedience classes, she continued to go to work daily with Thomas. Initially we simply had Hope accompany Thomas wherever he went. Hope had an immediate impact on the Dementia/Alzheimer’s unit. Within the first week Thomas saw residents who had become nonverbal, speak and residents who had become withdrawn, reach out to pet and talk to Hope. Hope is very loving and seems to have an intuition of who needs her presence. Just walking her through a room brings peace and calm to many while engaging others! We also saw a change in residents in assisted living as well. Hope’s presence relaxes folks. They are more comfortable sharing their lives with those around them. Much of what Hope does comes naturally to her. We have not had to train her to be patient with residents or to side step a wheel chair or walker. Her graceful and patient manner lends her to be a wonderful therapy pet. Her favorite thing to do is to put her head in your lap and just stand there to be petted! This is a hit not only with the residents, but also with the staff!

I titled this article A Time For Hope because that is the name of the program begun by Thomas and Hope within the dementia unit at Country Meadows. Hope lives up to her name. She not only brings it but, in this her forever home, she lives it!

We are saddened by Hope’s loss way before her time. But we know that she had the most wonderful home any greyhound could have; that is all we hope for when we place a dog. Godspeed Hope, you were greatly loved by many.

Health – Where Tick Borne Diseases are Found

We at FFGR, Inc. always encourage our adopters to use tick and flea preventatives regularly for their greyhounds to keep them healthy. We use preventatives regularly for all of the dogs in our foster program and make sure that all dogs going into adoptive homes have had a heartworm test, etc.

While we do live in an area that experiences cold temperatures in the winter, this region has been seeing a significant increase in the tick population in recent years and a higher incidence of lyme disease in dogs. It is up to the adopter to determine how often and when tick and flea preventives are used. However, we highly recommend becoming educated about the risks of not treating dogs.

Many of the dogs that we receive into our adoption program from the warmer climates may have had tick related diseases that have been successfully treated. We always inform our adopters (and provide medical records) of any treatment for these diseases. In most cases, once a dog has been treated, the diseases will not return as long as the dog is kept on preventatives.

The problem with TBDs is that often, when an animal displays symptoms, most adopters (and vets as well) do not always think to test for a TBD. Many times symptoms such as limping, walking with a painful gait, loss of appetite, swollen joints, fever and fatigue are treated with medications to aleviate the symptoms, but the cause of the symptoms are not diagnosed.

Don’t under estimate the damage that a tick borne disease can do. Some of these diseases are deadly if not treated. The best way to approach this issue is through prevention. Make sure your dog has a heartworm test once a year if you do not regularly use preventatives. If you do use prevenatives, make sure your dogs are getting their treatments on a regular basis. Most preventative come with reminder stickers that can be added to your calendar to help remember to treat your dog.

An excellent web site for learning more about tick borne diseases is www.ticksanddogs.com. You can access this web site by clicking on the title of this thread. It not only provides detailed information about tick borne diseases, but you can actually do a seach on your zip code to learn the extent of reported tick borne diseases in your area. This information should help you determine how important it is to keep up with regularly scheduled treatments.

We all want our dogs to be healthy, and one way to help them is to eliminate the threat of a tick borne disease.