An Adopted Greyhound’s Road to Home
by James Lyon
My fiancé and I have always been enamored by the grace, beauty and agility of greyhounds. They have a steady and, while most people are surprised by it, calm disposition. Over the last few years, we talked on and off about adopting a greyhound and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic recently made an opportunity available to us.
In mid-April, we read an article about the future of the greyhound race tracks in Florida and Alabama. It stated that most, if not all, would be closing to Covid-19 and that there would be an influx of retired racing dogs needing to be placed in permanent homes. That was the beginning of Dinah’s (former racing name TNT Gamer) relatively short journey to her new home.
Two years ago, our beloved retriever mix Midnight had passed away at age 15 of cancer. Our home had been lacking her strong yet gentle presence. Our research, coupled with our intuition, enabled us to not replace the missing piece of our family, but to open our home and hearts to a new beginning.
Over the last several years, Ilio Canine Care worked with many wonderful students and has also gained an invaluable network of extremely well-versed dog owners. One of our clients, Jolie, has a great deal of experience with the greyhound breed, having adopted several herself. Jolie was able to get us on the right “track” to facilitating an adoption through a group in Florida (Gold Coast Greyhound Adoptions) where Dinah was being fostered with one of their volunteers. They were very thorough in finding out about us and our home and worked with us to find a match that would be best for our family. Through fate and circumstance, a little over a week after our first conversation with Gold Coast, we found ourselves in South Georgia to meet Dinah’s foster mom.
Of course, we had seen pictures and videos of Dinah, but she was even lovelier in person. She was a bit shy at first, but once we started walking with her, we felt we had met the newest member of our pack. Not only was Dinah a beauty, she was so sweet and calm that it was hard to not fall in love with her quickly!
For those who are considering adopting a greyhound, the learning curve we have experienced, even as a “dog smart” household, is important to share. When they retire from the track, most greyhounds are seeing the world through an entirely new lens. Many of them have never experienced things we do not often think much about, such as stairs and toys. This can be both exciting and possibly overwhelming at the same time. The first time Dinah saw stairs, her answer to the situation was to scale all six at once. Most adoption groups caution about homes with large flights of stairs, and rightfully so.
.As you and your new greyhound companion embark on a new journey together, one common element is that their new experiences are new to you as well. You feel the joy they do when they find out how much fun a squeaky toy is. You see their surprise when they realize that not all dogs are of their size and graceful stature.
As we take Dinah to a couple of our favorite pet stores in Hendersonville, people see her muscles and physique, and are surprised to learn that greys are sprinters, not marathon runners. They do need exercise, but their requirements are simple, such as a rigorous daily walk or some “zoomies” around their backyard. It is ideal for them to have a fenced in yard where they can run. Greyhounds flourish on routine and regularity. Dinah loves to rise at 6am each morning and “sing the song of her people” to wake up the rest of the household. If you like to sleep later, you will need to get used to an early morning wake-up call.
The road to home has no finish line on the horizon. As is often said, life is about the journey, not the destination. Our pets grow and learn from us daily – mostly how to love and trust. Every day is a new turn on the racetrack, but the loving bond you form together is the ultimate prize.
James Lyon, CPDT-KA is a professional dog trainer and owner of Ilio Canine Care. His fiance Kimberly Blackwell is an Accounting Manager for a law firm.
Optional pull quote: “Many greyhounds have never experienced things such as toys and stairs.”
Caption: James Lyon and his rescued friends.