An adoption with nary a downside: racers make excellent pets

Dear Dr. Spiegel,

I am very interested in adopting a racing greyhound. The agencies I have spoken with all claim that these dogs are gentle, sociable animals that make excellent pets. They are supposed to be good with children as well as other pets. Since I work, I was concerned about leaving the dog alone during the day, but I have been assured that the greyhound would adapt very well to being alone. According to the adoption agencies, the virtues of these dogs are endless.

I find it very hard to believe that these greyhounds would make the transition to family pet so easily considering their background. They spend so much time caged with very little human contact.

Do these ex-racers make good pets? Would they require special handling? I would appreciate your opinion and insight regarding these special animals before I decide if a greyhound is right for my family.

J.M., Claymont

Dear J.M.,

I have seen over a thousand cases with representatives from many different breeds, and I have yet to treat a greyhound for behavioral problems. Is this because they are truly wonderful animals, free from problems? Probably not, but their early experiences may actually make them easier to live with.

These dogs are raised for racing. They spend most of the time in crates, but they actually are raised with a lot of contact and exposure to people and other dogs, while in their crates and while out training and racing. They don’t know any other life.

And when their racing careers are over and they are put up for adoption, they are mature adults. They have not had the opportunity as puppies or adolescents to get into bad habits of chewing or biting or getting spoiled and pushing their owners around.

They have lived and become content with little, and this is why as adult dogs they are so good and easy to manage.

This is by no means an endorsement of those raising techniques, and there are always some individuals whose unique personalities make them exceptions to the rule. But it is most certainly more than just coincidence that I have yet to even receive a call inquiring about my services for the treatment of a problem greyhound.

So if you want to have the second fastest land mammal in your midst (they can reach speeds of 45 mph; cheetahs are faster), then go for it!

There are literally hundreds of people involved across the country in greyhound rescue. Some regional contacts:

Mr. David WolfNational Greyhound Adoption Program, Inc.8301 Torresdale Ave.Philadelphia, PA 191361-800-348-2517 or 215-331-7918

Ms. Cynthia BraniganMake Peace With AnimalsP.O. Box 488New Hope, PA 18938215-862-0605

Christa StiboltAlmost Home Greyhound Rescue1414 Ritchie Hwy.Arnold, MD 21012410-757-7645

Mr. & Mrs. John DavisGreyhound Rescue, Inc.6397 Woodburn Rd.Elk Ridge, MD 21227410-796-2803

Ms. Betty RosenGreyhound Pets of America/Maryland11404 Lhasa LaneLutherville, MD 20193410-252-7555

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