Thursday, February 4, 2016

Greyhound Picnic

Greyhounds of the Verde Valley

If you’ve never heard of a 40 mph couch potato, you haven’t met a greyhound lover.

Greyhounds of the Verde Valley is an all volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to placing retired racing greyhounds in safe, loving, forever homes as pets, and provides foster and adoptive families and their dogs with continuing support, workshops, and camaraderie.

Since its beginning in 2007 over 300 dogs have been adopted through GVV. GVV greyhounds come from Tucson area racing kennels. GVV believes that everyone has their own opinion about dog racing. Their purpose is to ensure that these wonderful animals have a ‘Greyt’ retirement.

Greyhound owners claim their dogs are more intelligent, loving, and gentle - and more beautiful - plus less aggressive than most other dogs. A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that greyhounds are the least aggressive and most docile of canines. They are also quiet. Attend the GVV picnic and you will see a lot of dogs and hear little barking. The dogs are polite and friendly to people and other dogs.

Greyhound Picnic
GVV hosts an annual picnic for greyhounds and their families. Fun Run entries are clocked  by a radar speed gun. Other events included the “Diving for Dogs” contest  to see how many hot dog chunks a hound could fish out and eat in one minute, and the longest tail competition. The educational program was “Training Dogs to Avoid Rattlesnakes.” Add great food for humans and a wonderful day was enjoyed by all. 
Besides their annual picnic, and frequent presence at the Camp Verde Farmer’s Market they march in parades, and setup booths at adoption events, and art shows.
 Caring for a Greyhound
Monica Davis, GVV Founder and Adoption Coordinator, explains that greyhound pups spend longer with their mother and littermates than other dogs before beginning training at 18 months. They’re handled since birth, trained to walk on a leash, and to get along with other greyhounds. They start racing at two years and most dogs finish their racing career between 3 and 5 years of age.

A racing dog’s first introduction to the new world of being a pet is in a foster home. GVV places adoptable greyhounds in foster homes to give him or her love, care, and attention for a short period. Greyhounds need to be socialized to be ready to “meet ‘n greet” prospective adopters. Dogs straight off the track need to be acclimated to our confusing world: stairs, doors, strange noises, mirrors, children, cats, small animals, pools, even car rides, and much more. And they need to be introduced to the joys of treats and doggie toys. During foster time each dog is evaluated. GVV supports the foster caregiver and all veterinary care during this time to be certain each dog is healthy and ready for the right forever home. By the time a hound leaves for a forever home, GVV  has taken care of spay/neutering and the dog has been vet checked, teeth cleaned, wormed and is current on inoculations.

Greyhounds have been bred to sprint for short distances, not marathons, and do not require any more exercise than most dogs. Most do not jump and don’t require high fencing. They quickly adapt to house training and can live in apartments and small homes as long as they are walked, preferably on a schedule.

It is a tribute to their adaptability and intelligent nature, how quickly most make the transition to a completely new style of living. From the very start they are full of love and affection, eager to please, and sensitive to discipline. A simple "No!" will be more than enough encourage good behavior. 

Historically, greyhounds have been bred for racing and hunting and rarely suffer from health problems or genetic disorders. But they are different from other types of dogs when it comes to veterinary care and medicines. Due to their low body fat greyhounds' livers absorb most medicines directly and they can die from certain medicines and pesticides, including topical treatments for fleas and ticks. Their blood chemistry is different and greyhounds can be used as universal blood donors for other dogs.

Caring for a greyhound is much the same as caring for any dog, with some exceptions. They need soft places to rest, for they don’t have much fat to cushion their bodies. They need elevated food dishes, pedicures, and dental care. They appreciate wading pools in summer and warm winter clothes for cold days. Greyhounds chatter, called nattering, when they are excited and may even nip softly at your fingertips. Most overcome separation issues in a little time and GVV offers tips to speed up the process.

Adopting a Greyhound

The first steps in adopting a racer is to fill out an application (available online) and request a home visit. Next, both the prospective adopter and the dog will be evaluated for compatibility. GVV encourages all adopters, fosters, and supporters to read books about greyhounds. Each adopter signs a contract that requires the dog to be returned to GVV if the owner can no longer keep the dog - for any reason.

One recent adopter says, “We are happy with our decision and feel the research was worth it. The people at Greyhounds of the Verde Valley are sincere and helpful, the foster family has our gratitude, and our greyhound is well on her way to being a beloved family member. We just want to thank everyone who dedicates their time to these beautiful animals, and we’re glad to play a small part in giving a retired racing greyhound a home.”

Though many people call greyhound groups rescue organizations, President Tom Reese emphasizes that Greyhounds of the Verde Valley rehomes, not rescues:
“We turn professional athletes into
professional pets and companions.”

Excepted from the December - January 2015-2016 issue of the Flagstaff-Sedona Dog.