Halloween Safety Tips

ford hat 1Halloween is almost upon us and while we humans look forward to having a lot of fun, our greyhounds can be put in harm’s way if we are not careful.  The following tips are reprinted from the ASPCA.org web site:

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

We would also like to add that all unused fence gates should be locked tight.  Many trick or treaters open any gate they see, even if it’s not for access to the front door.  Greyhounds do seem to get loose on Halloween so make sure that you have taken the proper precautions.  You do not want to spend your holiday searching for your lost greyhound!


FFGR, Inc. Stance on Dog Parks

We have posted this information on our blog before, but we think it is still very relevant.  We also advise our new adopters about our concerns about dog parks because many state that they will use dog parks to provide exercise for their greyhound.  We hope that this will help avoid any problems in the future:

In recent years, public dog parks have increased significantly in popularity.  The parks are popular because they provide a way for dogs to get exercise and spend time with other dogs.  Nothing makes us happier when we see all of the dogs running around together and having a great time playing.  However, we never think about the tragedies that can happen (and have happened) when we are not educated about pack mentality and dog behavior in general.  There are very important issues that new greyhound adopters should think about before taking a greyhound to a dog park.

 – Greyhounds are “sight” hounds, bred for thousands of years to hunt, chase, and capture prey.  This is a deeply-rooted instinct that humans cannot change.

– Adopted retired racing greyhounds have been further trained to race at high speeds to chase down prey, or moving, prey-like objects.

– When racing, all greyhounds wear muzzles specifically to avoid injuries. (many greyhounds become competitive when running with other dogs.)

Why wouldn’t a greyhound think a dog park (or the like) was meant for this activity too? Taking a greyhound into a public environment (dog park, etc.) with other dog breeds is a huge risk for everyone involved. Humans cannot run faster than a greyhound in an attempt to prevent a dog “prey” capture, or to break up a dog fight – not to mention humans being harmed in the process.

For new adopters who aren’t aware:

– A single greyhound should not be muzzled when all other dogs are not muzzled.
Reason: If another dog attacks the greyhound, or if a dog pack fight begins, the muzzled greyhound cannot defend him/herself.

– It is wrong (and foolhardy) to surmise that your hound won’t get involved in a dog fight or attack another dog.

– If a muzzle is worn on any dog, all dogs should be muzzled.

Many greyhound owners avoid taking greyhounds to public dog parks/other mixed breed enclosures for all reasons above. Others may try going very early in morning and enter only if no other dogs are present, then leave as soon as another dog arrives.

 It is very important to understand pack mentality.  Once one dog is hurt and makes a sound, the others will attack it.  This instinct is hardwired into dogs.  The survival of the pack depends on all animals being healthy.  Once perceived as being weak, that dog must be eliminated from the pack.

One example of pack mentality:  There are about 15-20 large dogs in dog park. There are two gates into the dog park. A lady entered through furthermost gate with one small/medium sized dog that yelped when it was approached by an unfamiliar dog. It took roughly three seconds for every dog in the park to be in a horrific fighting pile on top of the new dog. The first yelp was all it took to alert every dog to join the pack.  Please do not make the mistake of thinking that your dog would not join such a fight!

It behooves all of us to remember our own breed’s history and instinct. Regardless of dog size differences and their owners’ decisions, we can’t expect any other dog breed owner to know our dogs. They may assume greyhounds would not be off leash in a public enclosure if they were not safe around other dogs.

 Your hound might be okay around smaller dogs (strangers) in a dog park environment (some are, many aren’t); however, some people have misperceived seemingly smaller dog friendship with potential small dog prey interest. Just because a hound didn’t make it to a professional race track doesn’t mean that hound was never race trained. There are many reasons a hound doesn’t make it to professional tracks (i.e.; may run too slowly, may try to bump/nip other dogs too much when racing, etc.). It doesn’t necessarily mean they have zero prey drive in their genetics with a100% guarantee to never become triggered. No dog breed is ever100% guaranteed.

Other considerations before taking greyhounds (or other dogs) to a dog park while other dogs are present:

– Are you financially able to accept full liability (and emotional/stress liability) IF your hound is unexpectedly triggered and harms or kills another dog?

– Exorbitant fees can run into many, many thousands of dollars, and can affect other areas when someone’s dog becomes labeled as a serious aggressor (even if the dog simply did what comes naturally): i.e., homeowner’s or renter’s insurance rates may increase, etc.

– The first thing many cities do is quarantine the aggressor dog in a shelter (for rabies check)… and, the aggressor may be euthanized depending on ordinances. If a pack dog fight takes place, this treatment could also include others involved in the pack fight.

– Best case scenario, (with much legal help) the dog may have to live his/her lifetime under strict home shelter rules; the dog might not be able to be taken out in public; or, if very lucky, the dog may be able to go out in public (like to vet’s office) only when muzzled.

– Consider the distress of the other dog’s family/children.

– In contrast, how would we feel if our (thin-skinned) greyhound is mauled by another dog in a dog park? If our hound survives, the hound (and owner, if injured) may endure long, intensive recovery; veterinary visits; time off work, etc.

Is it worth the risks? Some people are willing to take their chances, others aren’t. Those that do take their chances (especially around smaller dogs) coupled with a tragic experience can negatively affect greyhound adoption as a whole.

This is a reality check for adopters to consider before taking hounds into a crowded mixed breed dog park for a daily romp.

Some people may be surprised that there are adoption groups that require their adopted hounds never be allowed in public dog parks while other non-muzzled dogs are present. (muzzled-greyhound-only play dates are fine.).  While we do not place these kinds of  restrictions on the dogs we place (we have no way of enforcing this rule), we do hope that all new adopters understand the potential issues involved with taking greyhounds to a public dog park

 A safer alternative for those living near other greyhound owners is to arrange “all-muzzled greyhounds only” play dates.

Rainbow Bridge – Cleo Hayden (Hayden)

Hayden2February 21, 2003 – September 16, 2013

We are sad to report that FFGR, Inc. now has another Bridge Angel.  Nancy called us and reported to us that her long time companion, Hayden, had to be released from the pain of cancer.  He was ten years old.

Hayden was adopted by Nancy in early January 2007.  Hayden was a dog that everyone loved because he loved everyone and everything.  He was so easy going and had a calm and loving nature.  Since that time, Hayden was Nancy’s constant companion.  He also spent many hours with all of his other greyhound buddies who were adopted through FFGR, Inc. by Nancy’s daughter and husband.  These hounds all made the rounds over the years to all of our events as well as Greyhounds in Gettysburg and Greyhounds Reach the Beach.

In the recent past, Nancy had to go through a number of surgeries and Hayden was with her all along the way.  He provided her much company, love and support.  Needless to say, Nancy has lost her best friend.

We are sorry to lose Hayden but he had such a wonderful and loving home; he was one very lucky greyhound.  We are so grateful for Nancy for giving Hayden such a wonderful home.