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Greyhounds Wonderful with Families

Greyhounds great for more than just a day at the track

On her blog, Animal Attraction, Journal writer Jamie Hall invites readers to share their pet-and animalrelated stories and photos. In exchange, she’ll pass along the latest pet information, news, health care and trends. Here are some of the week’s highlights from her blog, on the Pets page at People in the dog world call greyhounds the world’s fastest couch potatoes. At top speed, they’ve been known to hit upwards of 60 kilometres an hour, but what they love almost as much as running is sleeping -preferably on a nice couch or a soft bed. They’re a highly intelligent breed and incredibly sensitive. They’re sight hounds, so if they spot something moving and they’re not on a leash, they are gone, gone and gone. “That’s the big worry about greyhounds,” says Bilinda Wagner. “No matter how much you train them, they have the potential to escape from you. They need to be on a leash, unless you’re in a completely fenced area, so they’re really not good off-leash park candidates. They make good running companions, though.” Greyhounds discovered on a Saskatchewan farm recently were not leashed, but chained up, in a muddy yard, without proper shelter and with no access to water. Already overwhelmed with dogs from another seizure, the Saskatoon SPCA turned to the Edmonton Humane Society for help -and to Wagner, who has 25 years’ experience with the breed. “They knew we had a member of our management team with experience raising and educating others about greyhounds, so transferring the dogs here was a natural fit,” says Shawna Randolph, society spokeswoman. Wagner was among the first Canadians to become involved in Adopt-a-Greyhound. The program started in the U.S. in the ’70s to find good homes for retired racing dogs, which were often abused or left to languish in kennels at tracks. She has owned greyhounds and whippets -a smaller version of a greyhound -since she was 13. She now has a greyhound cross, a pit bull and a chihuahua. Altogether, 17 greyhounds and greyhound cross dogs were brought to the Edmonton shelter last week. Six have since been transferred to Chinook Winds Greyhound Rescue, one has been adopted and the others are undergoing behavioural assessments and being spayed or neutered in preparation for adoption. “Some of them have broken teeth and scars,” Wagner says, “but bit by bit they’re getting better. They’re very gentle dogs and they love to be around people.” Ideally, the dogs will be adopted by people who have experience with the breed, or who are willing to be educated about their special needs. With their instinct to hunt and chase, Wagner says, one of the most important needs is a special collar -regular collars can easily slip off their long, slender necks. She says people sometimes mistakenly believe the dogs are too slim and end up overfeeding them. “It’s not healthy for them to carry too much weight -it can really damage their legs. They’re built to be streamlined.” She says greyhounds are wonderful family dogs. They need rules and consistency. What they don’t need is tons of exercise; a couple of good walks a day will suffice. “I think a lot of people have this misconception that these dogs need lots of exercise. They like to sleep most of the day. And they love soft spaces, so they need someone who won’t get angry when they jump up on the couch or the bed.”

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