Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Dog Shelter Day & The Greyhound Question

The drizzle and wet-cold have not cleared.  The cold was forecast; the rain is staying a bit longer than expected.  But that is not unusual for the gulf coast; cold fronts tend to stall and stick around when rain is involved.  But this forty-two-degree drizzle is our January-bad-day weather, not the usual for a November week.

Ignoring the rain, I bundled up today and went out; but not in a positive direction.  After spending way too many days searching Petfinder for dog listings, I got up my courage and drove to a not-too-distant pet shelter.  It was in a small town, in an area a bit off the beaten path, at least for me. 

I parked in the small parking lot, looked and listened, and almost turned around and left.  I could hear the barking and the crying out of dogs, even with windows up and rain tapping on the glass.  I sat in my car and noted the barbed-wire prison-type fencing between the parking lot and the shelter’s small building.  The barking and fencing were enough to turn this birder into a chicken.  But I found a bit of courage, went through the chain link gate, and found the side entrance door.
I’d called ahead this morning but gotten little additional info about this particular Petfinder dog.  She was described online as a Catahoula Leopard mix and listed at fifty pounds.  I was concerned about the weight, but the personality description brought me calling.  The web description was of a gentle dog, that didn’t like the excitement of dog parks, but loved long walks, and walked well on a leash.  That sounded promising. The breed info described a sturdy dog that should easily hike with me in all types of terrains.
I won’t go into the details, but what met me inside a closed-door room was easily an eighty-pound dog that a very large man was having trouble controlling.  Per doggy research, I ignored the dog (once I knew the man had her on a strong, tight leash). 
I stood tall and confident and relaxed (I think) and slowly chatted with the man as this HUGE muscular dog kept jumping on him, chest height.  The jumps were about as playful as a boxer throwing a punch in the ring.  I stood back; the dog finally quieted. 
Per dog-rescue research, I slowly and confidently (I think) put the back of my hand out toward the dog so that she could take a smell.  She did, and for just an instant I thought, yes, this part is going OK. 
And then within another second, she leaped at me and let out a massive bark that sounded out:  Attack!  My hand jumped back to my side and the man pulled hard on the dog.  The following moment of silence, by all three of us, was more than awkward.
And then it was the man that started talking.  He wanted me to look at another dog that he said was calmer, although “a good bit heavier” than this one.  I said thanks, but no thanks, with the friendliest smile I could muster.  I exited stage right with the dog barking and pulling hard toward me.
I felt overwhelmingly sad for this dog; and overwhelmingly frustrated at what I’ll call a misleading description, by web and by phone call. I saw firsthand why this beautiful beast had been in a shelter over a year.  But I was not the one to save her.
If I owned a working ranch, with horses and a big pickup truck, and Hoss from Bonanza as my ranch manager, this dog might have made her escape.  But instead, I can only make the understatement of the year:  this dog was too much for me and they surely knew that when I described what I was looking for, by phone.
In stark contrast, three weeks ago I almost came home with a retired greyhound.  I’ve been around a few greyhounds; enough to know how much I love these gentle giants.  With serious intent this fall, I began the extended retired-greyhound adoption process. Multiple phone interviews with the adoption agency were followed by their scheduling an appointment with me for a meet-and-greet. 
With this scheduled appointment and a “cleared to take one home”, the adoption agency representative finally answered the question I’d been asking from the beginning:  Will a greyhound enjoy an hour daily walk?  Will a greyhound enjoy a five mile hike on hill country and similar trails?
The answer was not what I was expecting.  I was told that there was NO WAY a greyhound would walk for an hour, daily or otherwise.  I was told a greyhound could not hike hill-country trails that include pebbles, rocks and crushed granite texture.  I cancelled my “cleared to take one home” appointment.  I was surprised at how sad I felt, and how quickly my tears came. 
And what happened today?  I was reminded how much I love greyhounds.  After this miserable day, I’m ready to hibernate and not reflect any more on today’s experience. 


But why can’t a greyhound walk for an hour? 


  1. I guess it depends on the greyhound. Joey can definitely walk an hour. The most we have walked is 2 miles at one time, but I would think you could work your way up to five miles. I know a lady who says she walks hers six miles a day, but it is not all at once. Greyhounds do not tolerate heat, so we don't walk far when it is hot. They are not good jogging partners because they have burst of energy and endurance is not their thing.

    It doesn't sound like you want a couch potato like Scout, but more like my Joey. He is very active. I would ask for one with a low prey drive. Joey likes to watch squirrels and cats, but he doesn't try to get at them. Some greys will go after small animals and that could be bad when hiking.

    You cannot let them off leash or they will be gone. Be careful when opening the door because if they get out, they may not come back. I was lucky that Joey came back to us when he escaped in Denver during a blizzard.

    Good luck!

  2. Patty, thanks so much for your comment. Yours is the first info on possibility of long walks. I don't jog or run, and I don't walk that fast--but 3 miles is a daily goal. I would be very careful to avoid any escape and would be too scared of running away to go off leash. If you have time, do you know if they can hike on rock-based trails rather than dirt based-trails? I absolutely love greyhounds and think one would be a good companion for my lifestyle. I also don't tolerate hot weather, so summer walks would be shorter.

  3. I hope this is not a duplicate. I am using a tablet and having issues. I think they can climb on rocks that are not sharp. A good person to connect with is another blogger www.talesandtails.com She hikes with her greyhounds on more trails than we do. She has a new hound who is just learning to hike. :-)

  4. Thank you for this and other info. I've debated since summer whether best to get a dog now, while I'm without an RV, or wait until my new rig arrives in February, allowing me to get used to it, and then focus on a dog. Pros/cons to both approaches. But I'm going back to a focus and pursuit of a greyhound. Hill country hikes don't require a lot of climbing, but crushed granite and pebbles are a part of the trail flooring.Thanks again and I'll hope to meet Scout and Joey out on a walk sometime!

  5. Emily, you can never find a more wonderful and devoted dog than an Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Healer). They can navigate any terrain. They were bred for the rough terrain and harsh climate of Australia. They are bred with the intelligence and loyality of the Border Collie and the strength and brauniness of the wild dog of Australia--the Dingo. They are a "pill" until the bonding is complete, but after that they are the best and most loyal four-legged friend a person could ever find. The only thing that might be an obstacle if you were to consider a Blue Healer is that they would need some yard to run around on. Faye was great inside but also liked to run the fences outside. She loved walks whether around town or elsewhere. An hour walk in the Hill Country would be devine!


  6. Dave, Faye was such a good dog. I really like Australian Cattle Dogs but you are right, I think they are more energy than I could handle!

  7. I read a greyhound book which said that if you want them to jog with you or hike, then you have to let them work up to it gradually so it is then easy for them. Also you need to realize that some of the adoption counselors have different opinions than others.


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