Greyhound Friends of NJ, Inc.
PO BOX 4416
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034 -0669
(732) 356-4370
info@greyhoundfriendsnj.org
Dogs: 28

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Newsletter Logo           GFNJ Home Stretch                                          Fall 2013

Letter From the President 
Dear Greyhound Lovers,

Summer is coming to an end and on its heels Fall will be a busy time for GFNJ.  This issue of your newsletter highlights the activities and provides some very good information about caring for your senior greyhound and behavior advice.   

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It’s with mixed emotions I report that Claire and Dennis Tyler of  Greyhound Pets of America, Central Florida are retiring. In the past 18 race seasons, they successfully transitioned an astounding 7,623 greyhounds from tracks to rescue groups.  So many of us are lucky enough to have one of the many greys the Tylers brought to GFNJ.  These are very special people and I, for one, will miss them dearly.  Thank you, Claire and Dennis, for all you’ve done for so many greyhounds and the people who love them.

We can all be proud of our accomplishments so far this year, but we still have a lot to do.  Along with a number of special needs dogs, we took in Shane, the year-old with a crooked leg requiring surgery, for whom we had an incredibly successful online auction.— thank you for participating.  I’m happy to report that Shane is in his forever home and doing well.  And, we welcomed 15 brood moms, and found each senior a loving home.  Next week, three more dogs with broken legs will come in. Twenty-five greyhounds in dire need will join the GFNJ family this month alone.

None of this would be possible without the help of our board and volunteers.  A huge part of what GFNJ does is educating people about the joys of owning a greyhound.  Special events and Meet & Greets are perfect places to do that.  When you volunteer to set up a table at an event, walk in a parade or think out of the box to do something special, you help spread the word.  You’ll see some examples of special ideas in this newsletter.  Maybe you’ll be inspired.  When you bid in an auction, buy tickets, step forward to help set up or take down a picnic or Craft Show, or donate goodies for a raffle, remember it all helps us save another greyhound…just like yours. 

Perhaps fostering is the ultimate form of volunteering by getting a grey ready for “real life.” If your dog was in a foster home, you know what that means.

Our busiest time of year is fast approaching: fall picnic, a special raffle, 17th Annual Craft Show & Pet Expo and welcoming as many greyhounds as possible.  It’s all coming, and I hope you’ll be there to help, share the warm feelings and good company.

 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Warm regards,                                                                                                                                                                  

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Juliet Lombardi and Carlene Topoleski donated $422
from their 10th birthday party. All the 4th graders North End Grammar School in Cedar Grove , NJ were to the party and asked to bring cash  donations in lieu of gifts. These generous girls split the money between GFNJ and Humane Society, Lyndhurst, NJ
 


The Skinny on Older Skinnier Greyhounds   
                                                                                                                          

by Lindsay Shreiber VMD 

Two years ago, Dave was an 11-year-old greyhound exhibiting some weight loss and weakness.  Once 80 pounds, he was down to 72 lbs.  His owner thought he was just winding down, or hadn’t lost that much weight.  When questioned by her veterinarian, she realized that he was weaker, less able to exercise and had actually lost a lot of weight.  Like Dave, Thea was also losing weight, which first was unnoticed due to her family’s focus on an unrelated eye problem.   Lana likewise was also losing weight, but had no other symptoms. 

One of the many significant problems facing pet owners and veterinarians alike is unexplained weight loss in older animals.   In general, this weight loss can be attributed to decreased calorie intake, increased use of calories, body loss of calories and nutrition via urine or stool, or lack of assimilation of calories by the digestive system.  In greyhounds, we are seeing a complex cluster of disorders involving weight loss, intestinal dysfunction, and generalized weakness with ultimate diagnoses and outcomes which range from benign to devastatingly malignant. The three greyhounds above are actual cases recently seen in our practice, which illustrate the breadth, severity and challenges that weight loss in older greyhounds presents to the dogs, their owners and veterinarians.

Greyhounds over the age of 8 may experience weight loss that can often be frustrating and difficult to diagnose and treat.  Weight loss may occur with or without a decrease in appetite, and dogs may even experience an increase in appetite.  Diarrhea may or may not be a feature initially.  Fecal exams, urinalysis, blood counts, blood chemistries and radiographs may be performed after a physical examination.   However, fecal tests for parasitic disorders are usually negative, and X-rays often are insignificant.  Other first-line laboratory tests such as blood counts and chemistries are also often negative, to offering only subtle hints at diagnosis.  

Why is diagnosis so difficult?  Despite the fact that simple blood tests can pinpoint kidney failure, liver disorders, anemia, and diabetes, when the organ system in distress is the intestines, diagnosis is tougher.  We then need to rely on more specific GI function tests, Ultrasound, Endoscopy, and possibly exploratory surgery. 

Routine laboratory testing may offer subtle clues to the presence of GI pathology, but usually nothing specific.   Assays for blood concentrations of B12, Folate, canine specific pancreatic lipase (cPLI) and canine specific Trypsin-Like-Immunoreactivity ( cTLI) offer specific analysis of intestinal function and are easily performed with just a simple blood test. 

The GI Lab at Texas A & M University has actually developed a cPLIanhdcPLI test and runs them along with a B12 and Folate to determine if intestinal absorption and assimilation of nutrients is lacking.  When run together, these tests strongly aid the diagnosis of intestinal malfunction and pathology,  which are easily performed with a simple blood draw and are relatively inexpensive ($200- 250.00). In our practice, we refer to them as GI Lab, or Texas A & M bloodwork, and we find that we run these tests several times a week, with greyhounds being the most commonly tested dog breed . 

If B12 is low, simple supplemental B12 injections will improve appetite, body condition, and neuromuscular strength.  Oral supplementation is not helpful since the GI tract won’t absorb it well!

Other diagnostics may include, from most aggressive to least aggressive: exploratory surgery, endoscopy, and diagnostic ultrasound.  Exploratory surgery may provide the most comprehensive view of the abdomen and allow a surgeon to get specific biopsies of internal organs, and therefore getting a specific diagnosis, but involves considerable expense, not to mention surgical trauma and recovery.   Intestinal Endoscopy is less invasive, will allow an operator to get surface biopsies of the stomach and intestines, but does still involve anesthesia, and does not allow the operator to look at other organs such as the pancreas, spleen, lymph nodes and liver.  Diagnostic Ultrasound can afford specific evaluation of all abdominal organs, and if pathology is evident, diagnostic samples can be taken via Ultrasound  guided aspirates  or biopsies. 

As for the three cases we mentioned, Lana was found to have a Leukemic phase of Lymphoma.  Her owner did not wish to pursue advanced chemotherapy, she was maintained on B12 injections, palliative treatment with corticosteroids and did well for 3 months before succumbing to her disorder.  Thea similarly did well with the same plan, but upon her death was found to have infiltrative lymphoma in her intestines, lymph nodes and spleen.  Dave, after 2 years is still going strong.  Diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, he is now 13 and receiving nothing but regular B12 injections.   These three dogs are real cases and illustrate the range of disorders we see commonly in older greyhounds who appear to be losing weight but do not have easily diagnosed disorders.  Greyhounds seem to be particularly affected with the range of these disorders, likely due to some type of genetic clustering. 

The GI Lab at Texas A& M University is starting to notice these trends and is currently engaging in pilot studies to further characterize the range of symptoms seen in our greys.   If your older hound seems to be losing ground in the age race, ask your veterinarian to look into GI disorders and GI function testing involving B12, Folate, cPLI, cTLI.

Lindsay Shreiber, VMD  - Owner & Medical Director — has two greyhounds in his family
(one adopted through GFNJ) and 100 greyhounds in his practice                                                                                                                                                                         
Valley Veterinary Hospital;  700 Main Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460   610-935-8110
www.valleyveterinaryhospital.net
 


 Want To Get Involved? Lend A Hand!

We love volunteers! Since our greyhounds come from racetracks and go into foster homes or our Prison Foster Program if they aren’t adopted immediately, we don’t need help for traditional “shelter duty”. But we do need volunteers, and there are plenty of ways that you can help. Have a special skill? Bakers, knitters, artists, photographers, bargain hunters, green thumbs…all are needed!

“The Big 4” are volunteer-intensive events where a small army is needed to make huge fundraisers happen: Tricky Tray, Spring Picnic & Fall Picnic and
the Annual Craft Show & Pet Expo

 

  • Can you foster? If you have room in your home, and your heart, for a grey waiting for their forever home, fostering is a really great way to volunteer. It’s fun, easy, rewarding, and GFNJ pays for the foster dogs’ food.
  • Does your company have a “Matching Fund” for annual donations?
  • Know someone at a newspaper, magazine, in radio or TV who’d like to do a feature on greyhounds or GFNJ?
  • We need raffle prizes throughout the year, so if your special skills can lead to a raffle prize donation, it is always appreciated
  • Put together a themed basket or just donate one item
  • We have a bake sale at the Craft Show and pot lunches at the picnics, so if you like to cook, let us know.
  • Host a Meet & Greet at your place of business, a special event in your town, or a local store. We’ll supply special adoption pamphlets to distribute there. Represent GFNJ in a parade or other local event
  • Be available if a dog is lost, and a team is needed to put up flyers
  • Join our Facebook page so you can keep up with what’s happening, welcome new folks into the group and share information with your friends.
  • Be a Santa or sell tickets at the Craft Show

Here are the names to know if you’d like to volunteer: Patty Comerford is Volunteer Coordinator for the Craft Show & Pet Expo and Meet & Greets. She coordinates the picnic pot lunches, too. Contact Patty at patty.comerford@gmail.com Ellen Ganopoulos is Volunteer Coordinator for the Tricky Tray and picnics. She can put you on the “GFNJ Volunteer e-Mail list” so you receive email notification when folks are needed. Contact Ellen at redreeper@aol.com or 973-759-0461. Lynn Heiler handles public relations, so if you have an opportunity to help spread the word about the joys of owning a grey in the news media, need someone to speak or appear on a radio or TV show, contact Lynn at lynnheiler@aol.com Terryl Jackson is our Foster Coordinator, contact her if you’d like to start fostering. Contact Terryl at greygal3@optonline.net Maria Lutz handles our fundraisers and raffles, please let her know if you’d like to help sell tickets or donate something for one of our raffles or silent auctions. Contact Maria at flutz11331@aol.com.

Volunteer opportunities are plentiful and rewarding at GFNJ. The dedication of our extraordinary volunteers keeps our doors open 24/7 to greys in need. If you’re interested, or would like more information please contact any of the board members mentioned here or Linda Lyman at 732-356-4370 or lelyman7@verizon.net

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Rose & Mary at the Bake Sale 

GFNJ Board Members— Mary, Nancy & Patty missing 

Ellen & one of her therapy dogs 

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Maria & her team at the picnic 

Rick brings Prison Foster Dogs to M&Gs 

Selling raffle tickets 


Foster Failure — It’s Not a Bad Word   
by Foster Mom, Patty Comerford

You are amazing – you volunteered to be a foster parent for a retired greyhound! You’re now in a special group of volunteers. You read the GFNJ Foster Guidelines.  You found extra beds, bowls, crates, muzzles and toys. You figured out how to deal with one more dog, how to introduce your foster to your dogs, and maybe cats, carefully, never just letting them run into the room unsupervised.  They met your family, friends and children, but none of them made a big commotion in the beginning.  Your ward got used to the new feeding schedule and what happens when you go out.  You spoke to Terryl the foster care coordinator and worked out the kinks.  You are not in this new venture alone.

As a diligent foster parent, you work with your foster – teach them about living in a home, you take them to Adoption Days and Meet & Greets because you want to show them off and introduce them to new situations.  You treat them like a member of the family, you care for them, and hopefully love them.  If you have any issues, you call Heidi, of course, and she’ll help you and your foster through it.

The question, “How can I give them up?” is universal, striking fear into the hearts of many potential foster parents.  That’s totally normal. It might have even given you pause to not foster.  Look into those big brown eyes, and you think, “I am the only person who understands you.  I am the only person who can take care of you the way you need to be cared for.  You will only be happy here.”  Well, maybe, maybe not. These greyhounds are great con artists.  They look at you in a way that says, “You are the beginning and end of my world.”  They lean on you (literally and figuratively).   If you have had a shy foster who is slowly coming out of their shell, how can you give them up?  If you’ve worked through a medical issue with a dog, there is an emotional attachment that develops while you nurse them back to health.

There are several reasons foster parents don’t want to “fail”.  They don’t want another dog.  Adding another dog is expensive.  There isn’t enough room in the house or the car.  GFNJ would lose a foster home, and maybe the foster coordinators would be disappointed.  You don’t want to be a failure! 

But then one day you get a phone call – someone is interested in your foster dog. A decision needs to be made – do you let your foster go, or do you “fail” fostering?

Here’s a lovely example of a recent foster failure – Lisa and her family decided to foster.  They have two greys, a young child and cats, so it’s a home where a grey can get exposed to lots of new challenges.  Lisa comes to an Adoption Day with her little boy, and goes home with Hwasan, a slightly timid black boy.  Hwasan quickly bonds with one of their greys and follows Gage everywhere.  He gets along with the cats and is very good with Lisa’s son.  Lisa and her family fall in love with him. He just fits.  So what to do?  The dreaded question – can we let him go?  “No!”  How can that be a failure?  It is a great decision for Lisa’s family and for Hwasan (now called Zahn).  It’s a foster detour, maybe a derail, but certainly not a failure. 

Lots of folks foster all the time and just don’t fail, or not too often anyway. They’ve figured out that the important thing is to help a grey on its way to “real” life. Sure, some fail a little, but not too much.

So let’s redefine “foster failure”.  It is not a negative – if the ultimate goal of greyhound adoption groups is to find homes for retired racers, you hit it. You didn’t cross the foster goal line, but you are not a failure.  You took a detour, but there are many other ways you get back on track. Volunteer at Adoption Days, the picnics, the Craft Show.  Buy/sell raffle tickets.  Have a yard sale.  Donate an item to a raffle or auction and then buy something else.  And maybe, just maybe, you can still foster for GFNJ, which is a really good thing.                      

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Newly adopted “foster detour” Zahn with his grey brothers

                              Patty has fostered 111 greyhounds for GFNJ ...and only failed 5 times. 


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Please Don’t Sit So Close to Me!   
By Heidi Gehret

This appeared in an earlier edition of GFNJ Home Stretch, but bears repeating.  The early days of greyhound adoption or fostering are important for all of you. Take your time. Let your new dog get used to your family, cats and other dogs.

Why are greyhounds returned from adoptive homes?  The number one reason is when the greyhound and the new owner misunderstand each other’s body language.  Greyhounds live as dogs before being placed into a home environment where they are now expected to live as pets.  Ninety percent of greyhound “bounces,” or returns, happen because the new adopter sits with or leans over their new greyhound and doesn’t understand what that means to the new dog.

Greyhounds need time to adjust and understand the different body language and communication between humans and dogs.  If another dog stands over him in a turn-out area at the track, the greyhound may interpret that communication to be a threat or domination, a sign the other is getting into his space, is “calling him out,” so to speak.  A newly rescued greyhound doesn’t realize you mean something different and only have the best intentions.  If you stand over your new grey while he’s sitting on his pillow or lying in the middle of your living room floor, he may react the same way if it were a dog trying to dominate him.  Your grey may feel unsure or uncomfortable and will sometimes growl or snap at you.  Adopters may see this as aggressive behavior when really the dog doesn’t know any other way to tell you that they aren’t comfortable with you in his space.

Never allow children to share a greyhound’s pillow or let the dog sleep in a child’s bed.   That goes for you, too.  Some new adopters are shocked when a grey sleeping in their bed growls or snaps when touched or when someone leans over him.  Remember, your new  dog has spent his life being able to sleep undisturbed in a crate where he felt safe.  Even though you mean well, he may see your affection as intrusive and may react in a dog way by growling.  Give him time, this is a whole new world…and life.

Introductions

You will receive a muzzle when you adopt your grey from GFNJ. Remember to use it when introducing your new one to
cats and
other dogs in your family. Don’t allow him to run into the house unsupervised
the first time — control
the situation by keeping
your new dog on a leash.  Let him meet the cat. They may not have had a dog in the house and might run, but they’ll get used to the idea.

We strongly recommend
that you muzzle your new grey or better yet crate him or her when you are not home and he's alone with your cat.  

That being said, it’s not OK for your greyhound to growl at you and it’s up to you to teach him appropriate behavior.  The best way to avoid this situation is to allow your greyhound plenty of time to adjust to his new environment by setting rules for your greyhound, establishing a routine and building trust.  Some greyhounds will never be comfortable sharing their pillow; they are all different, just like us!                                           

If your new greyhound is not catching on, we can help you both overcome this situation.  Contact me, Heidi, at hgehret@yahoo.com. 

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