The Cat Conundrum

Every greyhound adoption group faces the same problem.  Most of the people applying to adopt a greyhound have cats and/or other small animals.  We are finding that, as each year goes by, we have to work harder to place greyhounds in to homes with cats.  We have even devoted an entire page on our web site that deals with helping greyhounds live with cats and other small animals.

We know that many people asking to adopt a greyhound are animal lovers.  They also want to contribute to helping the many animals that are looking for homes; they have made the decision to adopt rather than to go to a breeder.  For that we give them much credit.  However, many of these people fail to realize that they need to take into consideration the sacrifice it takes to adopt each animal and they need to be willing to adjust their lives to accommodate these pets.

 Greyhounds often get a bad rap because of the myth that continues to dominate the conversations about them – that they are high prey and will kill small animals.  We are constantly surprised that after years of placing greyhounds and educating the public that people still do not understand that greyhounds are not much different than other breeds of dogs when it comes to living with cats and small animals.

 People think that a greyhound that is not cat safe is harder to live with and the prey drive is always at the surface waiting to show it’s ugly self to anything that it comes in contact with.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We think it is because of this attitude that so many people ask for a cat safe greyhound even though they have no cats or other small animals.  People want to take their greyhound for a walk and seem to think that a dog that is not cat friendly will be harder to handle on a leash.  This is simply not true.

 Many people are now asking for a dog that can do almost anything – go to the dog park, spend time with children and grandchildren without a problem, get along with other breeds of dogs, get along with all visitors to their home, stay alone long hours while their people work, be leash walked to relieve itself (no fenced in yard), travel with their greyhound, take the greyhound to events and outings, live with cats, small animals and even exotic animals and bring a dog in that will automatically know how to live in its new home.  No other breed rescue organization, humane society and/or breeder can (or would) comply with such a wish list.

 This is a far cry from the days when people like us adopted a greyhound sight unseen and no one was around to help us work through the issues.  It took dedication and patience but many of the greyhounds adopted during these times turned out to be wonderful pets and launched many of us into working on behalf of these incredible dogs.  Every one of the over 15 greyhounds we’ve adopted over the years (since 1991) have not been cat safe and every one of them were wonderful dogs that enriched our lives greatly.

 When we established our organization in 2005, there were many more greyhounds available for groups to take in when they were done racing.  Groups could ask for almost anything – color, sex, cat safe, age, child safe, etc.  We were constantly bombarded with requests to take another dog or asked how many more we could take.  Now that the numbers of greyhounds available for adoption are diminishing because of lower breeding rates and fewer tracks, groups don’t have the luxury of “cherry picking” dogs.  Greyhounds are now harder to get and the people transporting dogs to groups in our area are becoming few and far between.  We are now being faced with the problem of how to get dogs when we need them.  And some of the dogs now available to groups are the ones that would have been shoved to the back of the kennels years ago or passed over.

 In previous years many of us working in greyhound adoption turned a blind eye to the less adoptable and non cat friendly dogs.  We justified this by thinking that we were doing something to help greyhounds find homes.  It allowed us to ignore what was under the surface – that many less adoptable greyhounds were not getting their chance at a forever home.  And most of those were wonderful dogs that had the misfortune of not being cat friendly.  Now we are face to face with reality.

 When we established our group, it was a top priority to find homes for ALL greyhounds.  It didn’t take us long to realize that many groups were asking for certain types of dogs based on color, sex, age, cat friendly, etc.  We saw this and it became the reason why we established Craiger’s List in 2008 – to find homes for the less adoptable dogs.  This has been a wonderful success and it proves that there really are people willing to provide a loving home for the less adoptable dog.

 It is very frustrating to people working to supply groups like ours to constantly have demands made for cat friendly greyhounds.  In fact, today, there are hardly any cat friendly females sitting in any kennel.  They immediately are grabbed up by groups because they are the most sought after greyhound.  The suppliers are on the front lines and know what happens behind the scenes.   Some of the owners we’ve worked with in the past simply refused to cat test their greyhounds.  They felt that this should not be a factor when greyhounds are sent out for adoption.  To them, it’s about the greyhounds and we were told that this should be our focus.  We could not disagree with them.  We owe it the suppliers to help the situation rather than to make it more difficult.  And we owe it to the dogs we are promising to help – they ALL deserve a chance.

 We at Fast Friends Greyhound Rescue, Inc. will do everything we can to better educate people about the true nature of greyhounds, dispel the myths and we will make an even greater effort not to perpetuate the problem by asking for many cat safe greyhounds.  We will devote our time to taking in more of the “less adoptable” dogs and finding those good people who will give them a real forever home.  We will discourage people from requesting a not cat safe dog if they don’t need one and we have refused to adopt to people who make unreasonable requests.

 Many greyhounds are “cat trainable”.  This means that they can be taught to live with cats if given the right attention and training.  We are hoping that people wanting to adopt a greyhound from our organization will consider adopting one of these dogs.

 We are considering changing our adoption fee structure to reflect this philosophy.  We are considering lowering the adoption fee for not cat safe greyhounds while increasing the fee for cat safe greyhounds.

 We are sure that we will lose some adoptions.  However, we will all gain in the long run because the people who do adopt from us will be those who understand the value of each dog and will be willing to give it the forever home they deserve.

 We will continue to update you on this important issue.  And we are always open to any comments and/or suggestions. 

 

 

Rainbow Bridge – Finaldestination (Desi)

Finaldestination Best 2011

October 1, 2001 – July 19, 2013

We are sad to report that one of our Craiger’s List greyhounds, Desi, passed on to the Rainbow Bridge July 19, 2013.  Desi came in to our program from a farm in Florida.  She was a retired brood mom and her owner decided that it was time for her to find a forever home.

We took Desi in and fostered her until she found her home.  She was placed on Craiger’s List because she was a senior.  Desi was with us a very long time (almost a year) before Diane and George spotted her and asked to adopt her.  They only adopted senior greyhounds and Desi was a perfect dog for them.  We arranged a transport for Desi because George and Diane lived some distance away from our area.  They took Desi October 18,  2011.

From the moment we met Diane and George, we knew that they were special people.  They not only took Desi in, but they became wonderful supporters of our Craiger’s List program.  For each dog adopted from Craiger’s List, Diane sent a special “welcome home” gift to the adopter.

Diane and George also adopted one of Desi’s pups when she became available.  In spite of the distance between us, Diane has always kept us up to date on all of her dogs.  Desi was recently diagnosed with cancer and sadly had to be let go.

As Diane and George know better than anyone else, there is no long life associated with adopting a senior dog.  But they also know how wonderful seniors are.  We are sad that Desi couldn’t have more time, but we certainly know that she couldn’t have had more love than she had in her real forever home.

Rest in peace sweet Desi.  You are greatly loved and missed by so many.

 

Adoptions Gone Wrong

The following information is required reading for all potential adopters before they adopt one of our available greyhounds.  We give everyone a chance to think seriously about the commitment required and we want to make sure that everyone understands our expectations.  This information is not meant to be sophmoric or condescending; we only want people to be sure that they are going to be willing to give a greyhound the time and patience needed to adjust to its new home and make sure that this commitment lasts a life time.  Fortunately, we have a very low return rate and it’s because we ask people to think of the realities.  It’s what each and every greyhound deserves!

All of us at Fast Friends Greyhound Rescue, Inc. work very hard to make sure that all of the greyhounds we bring into our program go into “forever” homes.  It is our goal to reduce the number of greyhounds coming off the tracks that have nowhere to go.  Many of these dogs sit in adoption kennels for long periods of time waiting for a group to take them.  Many never make it into adoption.

 When we screen potential applicants, we try hard to make sure that all adopters understand the process they have to go through to adopt a greyhound, but we also try to make sure that all adopters understand and are willing to make the real commitment it takes to love and care for that dog for the rest of its life, no matter what happens.

 In spite of our best efforts, we find that a few people will bring back their dogs.  When we have to rehome a greyhound, it takes a chance away for another greyhound waiting at the track.  After looking at the reasons for the returns, we recognize patterns that reveal that many adopters go into adopting a greyhound with the wrong expectations and do not always think about the REALITIES of having a dog in the household for long term.

 Background

 Greyhounds are exceptional dogs.  They are the oldest pure bred dog in the world.  Racing greyhounds are carefully bred; their pedigrees can be traced back for generations.  They are bred for racing which means that aggression and many other negative behaviors are bred out of them.  They have few health problems.

 It is very expensive to breed, rear and train a racing greyhound.  Thousands of dollars are invested into a single greyhound going to the race tracks.  They are raised from puppies to know routine.  They are highly socialized to each other because they are raised with their littermates for a whole year.  They then go off to learn how to race where they are handled by trainers.  They learn how to get along with humans.  They are taught how to walk on the leash, how to race and return to their trainers after the race and they are trained not to soil their crates.  Their lives are highly regimented – their comfort and security is in routine.  They can be rejected from racing at any point along the line; those who make it to the tracks are highly trained dogs that respond to commands.

 Racing greyhounds know what to do (and do it) because they are trained.  These wonderful dogs come in to our adoption program as adults and have all the benefits of a well trained pure bred dog but without many of the problems that some other breeds have when they go into homes as puppies and are trained by lay people to live in a home.

 If a greyhound can be trained to race, it is surprising to us when adopters have problems.  We know why.

 Problems – Behavior Issues

 The problems we encounter with adopters seem to always fall along similar lines.  There is always a “honeymoon” period when the adopter falls in love with their wonderful dog.  That is because the adopter is seeing the benefit of a well trained, fostered and profiled dog.  Then as time goes by or even immediately, we might start hearing complaints like “Fluffy won’t go into her crate.” Or  “Sam soils the house when we go away.” Or “Brutus is marking!” Or “Cassie is chasing the cat!” Or  “I can’t believe Bijou bit my child!” Or “Hank growled at me!”

 We know when we hear these types of complaints that something has gone wrong in the home.  While some adopters are quick to blame the dog, they must take responsibility for some of the problems.  Many people do not take the time to study and understand dog behavior.  While we try hard to warn people about not giving all the power to their dog, people will not always listen.  Like rearing children, if we do not teach them correctly and allow them to behave badly, the result will be an unruly dog.

 The biggest problem we hear is that the dog growls at the kids or growls at the family members or snaps.  This may be because people become too complacent too quickly.  In spite of all of our admonitions about not touching a sleeping greyhound, we still get calls and emails about this problem.  These dogs WILL growl and snap if they are awakened by touch.  This is why many groups do not adopt to people with children as it is a problem that seems to come up more than any.  The adopter is responsible for training the dog and it starts when the dog comes in to the house.

 Imagine going to visit a relative and when you arrive that relative follows you everywhere asking you if you want something to drink, something to eat, etc.  For hours this relative constantly follows you around, even waking you up to make sure you are comfortable.  How would you feel?  Adopters fail to see how constant attention and bothering the dog while it’s resting can cause problems.  Children need to be taught this and monitored all the time with a new dog.  They should NEVER be alone at any time with a new dog.

 Our rule is to make adopters answer the question, “Are you willing to live with that behavior for the rest of your dog’s life?”  If not, then you MUST take responsibility for training your dog to live in your home under your rules.  We cannot take responsibility for bad behavior from a dog (that originates in the adoptive home) any more than we can take responsibility for your lack of understanding of your dog and your inability to train your dog.

 We profile all of our dogs via fostering.  We know which dogs go best into which homes.  When things fall apart, it’s up to the adopter to do some soul searching and do what is necessary to get their greyhound back on track.  We offer help.  But we cannot help if we do not know that there is a problem.  Often, adopters will contact us AFTER they have decided to return to dog for a particular behavior.  A call to our representatives may have saved a dog from being returned.  In spite of all of the resources we offer, like our News Blog, volunteer help, many adopters do not make use of these tools.  At the very least, an adopter may have to contact a dog trainer and/or behaviorist.  But all bad behaviors CAN be solved with the proper understanding of dog behavior and commitment to follow through on the necessary training.

 Problem – Lack of Planning

 Some people return a dog after it’s been in a home because of life altering problems.  We sometimes see returns because of job losses (economy), divorce, illness, moves, personal family issues, etc.  In addition, many senior greyhounds are returned to groups because of the veterinary expenses associated with an elderly dog.

 Life throws everyone curves.  There are few people who escape having to deal with major problems in their lives.  It is absolutely necessary for adopters to expect these types of problems and to make plans for their greyhound if problems occur.  All too often we hear statements like “Now is a good time in our lives and we can have a dog.”  That is great, but what happens to your greyhound if life heads in the wrong direction?

 We see the impact on the dogs that are returned because adopters did not take into consideration what would happen to their dog if they had major life issues to deal with (especially on senior dogs).

 While we have no control over personal adopter issues, we need to be assured that some kind of contingency plan is in place in the event that you have problems.  Your greyhound has no control over your problems and should not have to suffer the consequences because of them.  Please take into consideration all future problems and make sure that you have the means to keep your dog in your life.  We need to know that our adopters will make this type of commitment to their dogs.

 Problem – Benign Neglect

 It is amazing to the people (like us) who work in greyhound adoption to hear opinions from adopters relating to all the horror stories they hear that befall racing greyhounds.  And yet we see greyhounds coming back into our group with severe neglect issues.  Most are behind in vaccinations and most have terrible teeth.  Many are under weight or grossly over weight.  Most have the same collar on that they were in when adopted and or the collars are filthy and frayed; they come back with long toe nails and filthy ears.  We can say for sure that we rarely get back a totally healthy greyhound when one is returned to our group.

 This means to us that people do not have the respect and regard enough for their greyhound to give it basic care.  This goes against the adopter’s promise to us in the adoption contract that they will provide proper care for their dogs.

 We can no longer place dogs in homes where we think for one minute that someone does not know or understand that a dog needs to have its nails clipped regularly, to be fed properly, to have good dental care, to be kept up to date on vaccinations.  Most municipalities require a dog license and proof that a dog is up to date on vaccinations.  This is also what we require and expect nothing less.

  Problem – Blame the Victim

 Many (if not most) adopters returning a greyhound try to blame the wrong parties.  Yes, there are a few acceptable reasons for returning a greyhound (severe illness, death, etc.).  But most people returning a greyhound start off by being very defensive and then try to blame members of our group or the dog for the reason for the return.

 This is counter productive.  While it might make the adopter feel better to blame someone else so they don’t have to accept any blame themselves, it makes it hard on the dog to be rehomed if the adopter uses a lot of excuses for the return.  It is much better for us to deal with the return of a dog if the adopter is honest with us.  It is unfair to label a dog as we then must be honest with the next adopter about the reasons for the dog being returned to our group (even if we learn that the reason is not legitimate).

 We do everything we can to prevent dogs from being returned to our group (e.g., finding the right adopters).  But we state from the beginning that we are here for the dog first and foremost.  We are here to look out for the dogs.  When you return your dog, unless there is a good reason for it, please do not expect us to be sympathetic and reassuring if we feel that you are not being honest with us.

 If you have been approved to adopt a greyhound from our group, we look forward to working with you to avoid any and all pitfalls that might cause a problem.  We hope that you understand our policies and are willing to adhere to them.

 You have the right up until adoption to opt out of finalizing the adoption if you feel that we are requiring more than you are willing to give.  Please be assured that other greyhound adoption groups work like we do.  We want you to know ahead of time so that you know what to expect from us and what we expect from you.

 We hope that your greyhound will bring you many years of joy and that your greyhound will receive the right training, good care and love from you until its life is over.  It’s what they deserve!

Rainbow Bridge – Regall Bigbanker (Kali)

Regall Bigbanker Best

April 30, 2007 – July 3, 2013

It’s with great sadness that report the loss of a wonderful greyhound that was greatly loved.  We got notice from Jen and Sean that their greyhound Kali died after a short illness.  She was diagnosed with cancerous tumors on her liver and kidneys and throughout her system.  What makes this even harder is that Kali only turned six years old in April.  Jen and Sean loved Kali very much and are wonderful people who gave Kali the best life.  The only solice is that Kali had such a wonderful life where she was loved, respected and appreciated.  This is all we can hope for when we place a greyhound in to a home.

Rest in peace, sweet Kali, knowing that you were so loved and cherished.

Summer Hints for Hounds

0155banimalAs the summer months are now in full swing, our concerns for our hounds change direction. Instead of ice, snow and winter woes, we have now arrived at the time of year when another set of issues come into play. Here are a few items we would like to share.

Bee Stings
Watch out for bee stings! Yellow jackets can sting several times and still live. Other bees, like honey bees, sting once and die; some wasps and hornets can sting many times as well. If a hound were to have an allergic reaction to a bee sting, it would only take about 30 seconds to happen. If you know or suspect your grey may have been stung give Benadryl (one tablet for up to 60 pounds, 2 tablets for over that) and rush them to the vet.
If you know your grey is allergic, ask your vet to prescribe a “bee sting emergency kit” for you to keep at home.

The most important areas of concern are the mouth, eyes and ingestion of a multi-sting bee (they can keep stinging all the way down the esophagus and cause swelling which then cuts off the airway).

Mulch (and other Interesting items)
Mulch seems pretty harmless unless you are using the “red cocoa mulch” which was so popular last year. This product is made from the husk of the cocoa tree which is what produces CHOCOLATE. If any of this red mulch is ingested, it acts just like a chocolate candy bar and can cause upset stomachs, seizures and even death.

Some greyhounds love to eat anything interesting in the garden. Any type of mulch that is ingested can make a hound sick. If your hound likes to chew on things out in the yard (grass, plants, acorns, rocks, seed pods, sticks, etc.), you may want to use the kennel muzzle (with a stool cup inside) that you received in your adoption kit. This will prevent a hound from snacking on items that are not good for the digestion.

Fertilizer/Weed Killer
We all want beautiful plants and grass. Don’t forget your greyhound(s) when you are working in your yard and garden. Keep in mind that some lawn care products can be hazardous to your hounds. If you have a lawn care service, please ask them what types of fertilizers and pest sprays they use. Most chemicals today are safe for pets, but remember that our hounds have much thinner skin and can get sicker faster if subjected to strong doses of even safe chemicals. Your hound may not ingest any chemicals directly from your landscape, but a dog licking its paws can unwittingly dose itself with the chemical it walked in.

Also, be aware of the types of specialized products you are using. For instance, although some lawn fertilizers are safe, some products used for specific garden applications could mean a dose of poison for a greyhound. Reports have been published recently of greyhounds dying when they ate snail bait spread around the base of plants in the garden.

If you don’t use fertilizers, pesticides or weed killers on your yard, you still need to be vigilant if you walk your hound in the neighborhood. Many people do use these products. Pay careful attention to this as your dog traverses the neighborhood lawns or grassy areas along curbs. If you notice any spraying going on, please avoid walking near these areas as lawn chemicals can be transported by wind.

Garden Tools and Lawn Furniture
This one hurts deeply. Several years ago a friend was cleaning up her yard. She had her wheelbarrow out for the debris she was gathering. She thought it would be nice to have the dogs out in the yard with her. The dogs began playing and suddenly her 10 year old grey streaked by and impaled itself on the handles of her wheelbarrow. Another adopter last summer lost her greyhound when she ran full speed into the corner of a concrete bench. Remember that your hounds can reach speeds up to 35-45 MPH in three strides. That speed is enough to turn a harmless tool handle into a death sentence for a greyhound. The same applies to garden tools with points. No matter how careful you are, the possibility is always there.

Poisonous Plants
Dieffenbachia, philodendron, and other pretty plants are deadly to greyhounds and other pets. If you go to the National Poison Control web site, you can get the entire list of plants that are hazardous to your animals.

Water Hoses
Seems safe enough, right? Have you ever felt the water coming out of a hose that sat in the sun for a few hours? It can be hot enough to burn your skin not to mention the tender mouth tissue of any person or animal. Another concern with hoses are the loops can get caught around skinny necks and in trying to get away can be twisted and tighten until the dog literally hangs itself.

Ice Cold Water/Ice Cubes
For years it was common to give dog’s ice cubes. At dog shows, breeders and owners sometimes give their dogs ice cubes after coming out of the ring to cool them off; that is, until one dog ate ice cubes and it caused the stomach to twist and the dog died of bloat before it could reach medical treatment. The dog’s body temperature on the inside was very high and the affect from the ice was the same as giving the dog a drink of water or food before or after running. It produced an atmosphere to allow gas to build up and the intestines twisted.

Feeding and Watering
We all have been told not to feed or water our greyhounds or any dog one hour before or one hour after they eat, but it is worth repeating. Always make sure you dog has access to water when outside on a hot day.

Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke
Do you know the difference?

This is one of our biggest concerns! In the spring and summer many of us like to take our hounds with us to outdoor events and parks. Often, on a hot day, we don’t think of how the heat may be affecting our hounds. Please take a moment to think about this important topic.

Heat Stroke is an emergency! Saliva is thick and tenacious and the dog vomits frequently, fainting or unconsciousness. Rectal temps are high often over 106 degrees. If untreated the dog becomes unsteady, staggers, has diarrhea which is often bloody, becomes weaker. Brain damage, coma and death can occur.

Heat Exhaustion: Excessive panting, skin inside the ears becomes flushed and red, weakness, staggering. If left untreated can become heat stroke

Treatment
Treatments are the same for both. DON’T wait for vet treatment; start at once. Cool the dog’s body with cool wet towels or hose the dog with cool water. Apply an ice pack to the dogs head. Remove the dog to a cool place. Continue treatment until your dog’s temperature reaches normal (102-103 degrees). Transport to the vet as soon as the dog’s temperature is stabilized. This is the most dangerous problem we face in summer. Our hounds do not have the body fat or the fur to protect them from the sun’s heat. We must be vigilant.

Pools
Greyhounds are not usually great swimmers. Some may be able to paddle around but on the whole they can not swim or float. There is no body fat to keep them afloat. If you have an in-ground pool, be sure to take your dog into the water with you and show them how to get out. Show them where the steps are located, teach them that if they fall in the deep end they can walk to the shallow end and get out. For those with above-ground pools, you need to have extra vigilance that your ladder is not left down.

Hot Pavement
Don’t forget, on a hot day, walking your hound on hot pavement may result in blistered paws! We’ve seen many greyhounds suffer from blistered paws at some of the outdoor greyhound events that take place in the spring and summer months. If you want to test how hot the pavement is, take off your shoes and stand on the pavement for a moment in your bare feet. If it’s too hot for you, it is certainly too hot for your greyhound!

Sunburns
Since greyhounds don’t have thick fur to protect their skin from sunburns, many can burn very easily and quickly out in the hot sun. Watch their ears as well as ears will burn (and blister) quickly before other parts of the body. A sunburned greyhound will suffer much pain – if you’ve ever had a bad sun burn, you certainly can understand what you hound might be feeling.

The advice offered here is not designed to frighten you or discourage you from having summer fun with your greyhound. Just a little attention to all of these warnings will ensure that you have a Greyt Safe Summer!