The REALITIES of Greyhound Adoption

We want all of our adoptions to be happy and we want to have good placements.  Please consider the following REALITIES you will have to face so that before you adopt you will be prepared for them.  You can decide if you are really ready – we respect anyone who will admit perhaps that this may be too much.  It’s better to not move forward with adoption than to get the dog and then be sorry.  It’s not good for anyone – our volunteers, you and especially the dog:


Even though you are getting an adult dog that has been fostered, you MUST do additional training to have that dog fit into your home.  Your greyhound will not know what to do unless you train it.  All of the wonderful adopted greyhounds you see at our meet and greet events were “new” to their adopters at one time; what you see came about through patience, caring and commitment on the part of their adopters.  What you see is what you will also have if you understand and make the commitment.

Many greyhounds seem to be aloof in a new home or seem to be “unhappy” to first time nervous adopters.  Greyhounds often are very low key and reserved; therefore, many people take this to mean that the dog doesn’t like his/her new home.  This is wrong.  Greyhounds’ personalities take weeks and sometimes months to unfold.  You will see a different dog if you give that dog enough time to adjust.

Some greyhounds prefer one person over another.  Many people take this personally.  Greyhounds are like people; they have preferences too.  It’s wrong to be hurt if a greyhound doesn’t accept everyone in the family the same way.  Most are very loving but won’t act outgoing towards everyone as expected.  This may change and it might not.  You need to put ego aside and work past this issue by allowing the dog enough time to trust the people around him/her.

You WILL have to clean up accidents in the house if you do not have a fenced in yard and need to leash walk.  Some greyhounds take to leash walking easily while others do not.  You have to be willing to be patient and understanding and work with your dog until you have him/her leash trained.  This usually does not take long but the process can be prolonged or never work if you are not patient.  Fenced in yard or not, you WILL have to get up in the middle of the night and in bad weather at some point to let your dog outside.  Your dog might get sick and throw up, have diarrhea and/or have to be taken to the emergency vet.  You must be prepared for all of these possibilities.

Greyhounds are extremely sensitive dogs.  If you are stressed out over everything the greyhound will pick up on your feelings and be stressed also.  Calm assertive behavior will help your greyhound adjust faster.

It is wrong to hug, grab, move, touch, stand over top of, and/or wake a resting or sleeping greyhound.  They are not used to this and some may bark, growl and/or bite.  Greyhounds are not used to being handled when they are lying down.  The phrase “let sleeping dogs lie” especially applies to greyhounds.  You must be willing to understand and accept your greyhound’s past to succeed in helping him/her adjust in your home.

Greyhounds will tear up your yard in winter and spring.  Their long nails and running will throw up dirt and grass and even create mud in your yard that will then be dragged into the house.  You must be willing to accept this as part of living with a greyhound.

Do not be surprised if your greyhound growls at you or snaps.  This usually means that YOU did something.  Greyhounds are not aggressive dogs but will growl and/or snap if they are afraid or feel threatened or if they are manhandled.  You must make an effort to understand your dog and learn the signals he/she is trying to give you.

Don’t allow a behavior unless you are willing to live with that behavior the rest of the greyhound’s life.

Some (not all) greyhounds may steal food, counter surf, “collect” your personal belongings, etc. if they are left unchecked.  Most do not chew things up but there are always exceptions to the rule.  You must expect to lose food and/or personal possessions if you are not willing to dog proof your house.

You CANNOT expect the greyhound you adopt to fit the image you have in your head when you decide to adopt.  Unless you are willing to accept the realities and face your limitations, you should not adopt a greyhound.  To be successful, you will have to accept your greyhound and enjoy it for what it is.  You will be richly rewarded.

Nail Trimming……It’s Important!!!

Midkiffnails2Do your hound’s nails look like this???  What is wrong with these pictures?   Did you know that overgrown nails can be hazardous to your hound’s health?  MidkiffonbedOvergrown nails may cause your hound’s toes to splay (see below).  This can adversely affect his gait, and can actually cause many other serious medical problems.  The nails force the dog to rock back on his foot and carry his rear legs much farther forward under his body.  Many times dogs get injured while running in their yards and some of those injuries can be attributed to the dog over-compensating because of overgrown nails.  Neglecting regular nail trimming and maintenance may even lead to early arthritis, crippling, and broken bones. (Remember, greyhounds have more delicate bones than other breeds of dogs.)

The main reason people do not keep up with regular nail trimming is because they are afraid that they might hurt their dog.  People shy away from trimming with hand clippers because they can remove too much nail (causing pain and bleeding), not enough nail, or cause the nail to splinter and have rough edges. These sharp edges can scratch your skin and snag your carpeting and clothing.  But neglecting nails is even more hurtful in the long run.  Long sharp nails are more likely to get caught on things which can rip the nail from the dog’s foot.  This will result in a lot of needless pain for the dog and pain in your wallet.  Having to take a dog to a groomer often enough to keep the nails trimmed can be expensive and time consuming.  The best option would be to learn how to do the trimming and keep practicing until you feel comfortable.

Some people cannot get their hound to be quiet and still long enough to do any nail trimming.  Here’s where patience and persistence pays off.  When we try to calm our hounds by crooning and petting, we inadvertently send the message that it’s OK to panic and be difficult.  The best way to handle squirmy and whining dog is to take charge and clip one or two nails at a time (as quickly and safely as possible) and then praise the dog for being good.  Keep this up until you can do all of the nails on one paw, then move on to the next.  You might even want to start by doing one or two nails a day and only remove the very tip of the nail.  That way you are working too quickly for the dog to react.  You can always perfect your clipping once your dog gets comfortable with being touched. Remember, if you allow your hound to control the situation, your dog will never be willing to cooperate and nail trimming time will be a job that will always be dreaded (by dog and person).

If your dog’s nails have been neglected over a long period of time, they may seem very long even after they have been cut.  That might be because the quicks have been allowed to become overgrown too.  The quicks are the vein inside the toenails and the part that bleeds if you cut the nail too short.  You can solve this problem.  The quicks can be made to recede over time by cutting the nails frequently over the course of a month.   Then, once you have gotten the quicks to recede, it will be easy to keep the nails short all the time.  If you noticed when you adopted your greyhound, they most likely had very short nails!  That’s because they are kept very short at the track for racing.  The quicks have receded way back in the nail from frequent trimming.  This is actually the way your dog’s nails should look all the time for optimum health.

WellclippednailHow short should your hound’s nails be? A good rule of thumb is that the nails should not touch the floor when the dog is standing (see photo left). If you hear clicking when the dog walks you need to get the nails shorter.  Although it sounds like a daunting job, if you clip often over the course of a month, you can get your dog’s nails short enough that you can do regular trimming without much effort after that.

If all else fails and you just do not want to use the nail clippers, you might want to try a grinder.  These small battery motorized tools can be bought at most pet stores or hardware stores (a dremel tool).  The tool has an attachment that looks like sandpaper that is actually a stone.  It will grind the nail down much like the way we file our own nails.  This is relatively painless and many dogs don’t seem to mind the sound because the tools operate quietly.

If you choose to try one of these tools, just remember to use short strokes on each nail, work slowly, and keep the nails from heating up.  You do not want to set the grinder down on one nail for too long.  It will burn!  Also, most dogs won’t react as badly if you hit the quick doing the light short strokes as you can monitor your progress better.  This is a great option for dogs that have black nails.  There are a lot of sources on line that provide good instructions for grinding.

NailclippingdayIf all else fails and you have a “screamer” that will not allow you to touch his/her paws (some greyhounds actually HATE having their feet touched), then a groomer might be your best bet.  Pet stores like Petsmart and Petco are inexpensive and the groomers there work very efficiently.  If you take your hound for a nail trim, remember to take a copy of his/her rabies certificate which is required in most grooming establishments.  They will keep it on file for you.  The cost is between $10-17.  Considering the cost of vet bills stemming from poor nail care, this may be the best money you spend on your dog!

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow BridgeWe have lost some wonderful greyhounds recently.  The following dogs will always be in our hearts and memories:





Kopper (WVs Kopperston) adopted and loved by Dan









Mallory (WVs Mallory) adopted and loved by Chris and Anna





Solitary Roost 2010 Bestofall




Mister (Solitary Roost) adopted and loved by Dee








Keeley (Freeride Sunset) adopted and loved by the Jocham family



We sometimes have greyhounds listed on Craiger’s List that have had a history of seizures.  We think that this article may be helpful to those who do not understand seizures and who might consider adopting a dog that has had seizures.  It was written by Connie Brown who at the time was experiencing seizures in her dog Marley.  Since this article was written, Marley crossed the bridge from cancer.

The following is recount of my own personal experience with greyhounds and seizures and the prevailing medical advice on seizures.  Unfortunately, I have experience with cancer in two of my greyhounds but never with seizures.  Seizures are extremely frightening to witness, and can be life threatening for your dog.

I adopted Marley November 21, 2005.  Marley just turned nine years old on April 1, 2012.  Marley has had no medical issues at all, well minus the tail caught in the door – the roommate did that – Marley has never even needed a dental!

Marley’s first seizure happened on October 21, 2011 at 4:20 a.m.  Marley was sleeping with me when he suddenly jumped up and headed towards the top of the bed, stumbling and staggering until he fell off the bed landing on the floor onto his side.  His legs were rigid and thrashing, eyes glazed, he was drooling, and I kept yelling at him to please stop, I was so scared.  I later learned you need to be calm for the dog’s sake.  The seizure seemed like it lasted forever but was between one to two minutes.  When Marley finally came to, he was very disoriented and unsteady on his feet, I finally got him downstairs but he just could not settle, he paced and paced for about an hour before finally settling down.

I called the emergency clinic; they said if the seizure did not last longer than five minutes and/or he does not have another seizure within the next couple of hours that I could wait until his vet’s office opened.  Marley did not have another seizure and I was able to have Marley seen that day by his vet.  Due to his fall and the injuries he suffered, minor but sustained, it took Marley almost two full days to recover from this seizure.  Marley’s initial blood work came back negative for anything attributable to a seizure but his antibody test for tick borne disease was positive for Rocky Mountain Fever and Ehrlichiosis with a very low titer.  He was treated with a thirty-day supply of Doxycycline.

On December 18, 2011 almost two months to the date of his first seizure, Marley had his second seizure at 6:40 a.m.  As before, Marley was sleeping with me but this time he jumped off the end of the bed and ran straight for the stairs, luckily Marley went into the seizure prior to falling down the stairs.  This seizure also lasted between one to two minutes but this time I did remain calm.  It was another hour before Marley was able to finally settle down.

I crate Marley while at work.  After witnessing his first seizure, I was afraid to put him back into his wire crate for fear he would break his legs so I set up his soft sided crate used for travel until I could find something safer.  I found a round soft sided crate online they call a playpen.

On January 30, 2012, Marley had his third seizure at 4:30 a.m. except this time he was in his playpen downstairs.  I did not hear it although Otis, my other greyhound; certainly wanted me to know something was wrong by barking.  I did not actually witness Marley’s seizure; however, the aftereffects were the same.  Fifteen hours later at 7:30 p.m., Marley had his fourth seizure.  Marley was in his playpen with the door open.  Marley fortunately bounced off the side of the playpen knocking it onto its side (not collapsing) keeping him safe from injury.  With Marley’s first two seizures, when the seizure started, he jumped up and ran.  The main reason I purchased the playpen was to provide Marley with a crate that had a soft side for him to bounce off as opposed to possibly hitting a wall or falling down the stairs.  I cannot say enough about this playpen, it kept Marley safe twice on this January day.

I was able to get Marley seen by a neurologist the following day.  There is a long list of why dogs have seizures; a neurologist can narrow it down to a short list after examination.  Marley passed all the neurological tests, his blood work was “fantastic” but the antibody test revealed he was positive for Rocky Mountain Fever and Ehrlichiosis with a low titer count so an additional test was needed.  Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis can cause seizures so I had an additional tick panel run at the North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine.  Marley was negative.

At Marley’s age, a brain tumor was one of the most likely causes of seizures.  I had so many questions for the neurologist, but without Marley having an MRI, a lot of my questions could not be answered.  What would I do if he had a brain tumor?  I was not sure, but I wanted to know to get the answers to my many questions, so I opted to have the MRI done and am happy to report that Marley does not have a brain tumor.

Finding the exact cause of why a dog is having seizures requires a lot of testing, some invasive, and can be very expensive.  I will probably never know why Marley is having seizures (because current medical science does not know what causes epilepsy) although having the MRI and full tick panel eliminated a lot of my questions as to why.  Marley is currently on medication and doing extremely well.  Did I ever think I would be writing an article about seizures?  Never, however, Marley and I wanted to share our experience and what we have learned about seizures.