N.J. Home Stretch
Volume 13 Issue 2 Fall 2010
People hear me say, “When you adopt a greyhound, you adopt a cause.” That’s obvious when I arrive at a GFNJ event where I see so many of our adopters at work. Whether it’s an Adoption Day at Tabernacle Bed & Biscuit, one of our annual picnics, a Meet & Greet or clothing drive, I see an extraordinary group of selfless volunteers working. The Greyhound Gala, Craft Show, Tricky Tray and Scotch Bowl wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers devoted to promoting, soliciting raffles and selling tickets to make these key fund-raising events all run smoothly, and staying to clean up long after everyone else has gone home.
When 18 greys arrive in a haul from Alabama or Florida, a team of GFNJ volunteers help take them off the truck, water and feed them, get their pictures taken for the web site and bathe them. They come back early the next morning to cat-test each dog and then get ready for the Adoption Day that follows. The team works in 100 degree heat and when there’s snow on the ground to make our new wards comfortable.
Our volunteers raise their hands to foster greys that come in so the dogs will be ready for “real” life. They teach them all they need to know about living with children and cats, how to master stairs that they can’t go through windows, and surfing is a “no-no.” They clean up after their foster grey when it hasn’t quite gotten housebreaking down and help the shy dog realize they’re safe. Tina Coyle, whose family has fostered 18 greys, says, “We know we’re a stepping stone on a path to a new life for these greyhounds.”
Is it enough just to adopt a Greyhound? Have you done all you can so GFNJ can save the lives of many other dogs in dire need who face possible euthanization if we don’t step in? Finding the right home for each of our greyhounds is our goal, but it takes a lot of effort.
Maybe you’ve wanted to volunteer, but you’re not sure where to start. It’s easy. Look on our web site for upcoming events and contact the person in charge to see how you can help. Bring your dog to a Meet & Greet or other event so you can tell the world about the joys of owning one of these wonderful dogs. Want to start your own Meet & Greet? Contact me and we’ll support you. Our creative volunteers have started some amazing events.
Come to one of our picnics early to help with set-up and break-down afterwards. Hundreds come to the picnics and enjoy the day, but fewer than 20 are there at 7 am to help make it happen. If you can help set up crates for adoptable dogs, put up tents, hang a sign or carry boxes of T-shirts, we need you.
Do it for these beautiful greyhounds. Do it for GFNJ so we can save more dogs. Do it for your own satisfaction. Volunteer. Give a little of yourself and, take it from me, you’ll get a whole lot back…more than you can imagine. Volunteer, and when you look in the warm brown eyes of a newly arrived greyhound, you’ll know you had something to do with saving its life.
Duke getting his first bath by volunteers, after arriving from Florida.
A Little Different....
by Susan Tobin
Our newest greyhound is a little bit different. Different, but not difficult. After three adoptees and seven fosters over a span of nine years, Nike (after the goddess of victory, not the sneaker company) is the first "she" dog to grace our home. Finally, a girl and two greyhounds under roof again! Each of the 10 boys had unique personalities and a few of them had unique training issues that required a different approach, but not difficult. When our eldest reached his senior years, his increasing physical limitations meant we had to, as many families do, make different accommodations for him such as carrying him up the stairs and lifting him into the SUV. Different for us – and I’m sure for him as well --- but not difficult. Two of our adopted have looked a little different because each of them had only one eye, and one three legs. A little different --- they admittedly got banged on the “blindside ” a few times --- but not difficult. And I must add, although different, exquisitely handsome.
Our new little girl would probably be "officially" classified by most as "special needs. ”She definitely is special and she is different. Because we now have a girl, we have to learn to referring to “the boys". Because she is so tiny, we have to learn to adapt the standard "two cups of kibble" diet that all of the boys have eaten. Surely this isn't difficult. And certainly no more difficult than using hand signals rather than words for commands to accommodate for the fact that Nike is deaf. Deaf, but not difficult.
I am reminded of what my sister, who has taught deaf children for 27 years, often tells me when I ask ignorant or naive questions about how she teaches them and does seemingly with them inside and outside of the classroom. She tells me that at their core, these deaf children are children, little human beings with the same needs for security and stability in their lives and love and positive feedback from those around them, as all children. Nike is a greyhound. A deaf one, but a greyhound all the same who needs love and responds to love just as all the others do.
As of this writing, six weeks have passed since we picked Nike up at Tabernacle. She has endeared herself to all of our two-legged family members and been accepted by the four-legged ones. She has been on road trips and is a worthy car traveler. She loves to go for walks, soft pillows and beds, to be right in the midst of things. She is learning the art of playing with stuffies and taking things off of countertops and tables. You may think she is different because she is deaf, but after a hug, a nuzzle and a kiss from her, you realize there are no differences that matter.
It makes me sad to think that some special needs greys don’t get adopted because people think they will be harder to handle. Consider this -- we adopt greys because they need our help, they need a home and we need a friend. They come to us needing special attention. All of them do. So I have to ask, why not consider a special needs grey? They have their own needs but not necessarily more than other greys...and none that matter.
Nike and Luke
New York State Of Mind
by Sara Davis
When my husband and I decided that it was time to bring a dog into our lives, we knew we wanted to adopt an adult dog – we just don’t have a lifestyle conducive to raising a puppy and we know that there are thousands of adult dogs looking for homes. A friend of ours mentioned greyhounds, which we had never considered. Greyhounds? Aren’t they really big and need lots of space and exercise?
Hardly. Bella (formerly KT Britta) has fit in perfectly with our lives and our home. Her 66-pound body can curl into a small ball or take up most of a queen-size bed. She doesn’t need more than a couple of short walks a day and after a few blocks she walks along with her head down, tongue hanging out, the perfect picture of the contented greyhound. From the first day, Bella’s walked beautifully on a leash – even in Grand Central Station during busy times, a test for any dog.
The first week or so we came home at lunchtime to give Bella a walk – until that Friday when I hadto wake her up for the walk, at which point we decided she was just fine for the day. Now, we leave her alone for hours while we’re at work – in fact, when I recently came home in the middle of the day from a business trip, not only did I obviously interrupt her expected midday sleep time (she didn’t even get up from her spot on our bed), I got the cold shoulder because of it and she would NOT go outside until it was her normal after-work potty time.
One more important part, if you are looking into adopting a greyhound, you may hear a lot about how they need their routines. Sometimes living in NYC, and depending on your lifestyle, a routine can be tough -- Bella has adjusted beautifully to ours. We try to feed her on the same schedule all of the time, but other than that, there can be a lot of changes from one day to the next depending on what we’re doing. Sometimes she’ll get an early dinner and walk and then my husband and I’ll go back out for another few hours. Sometimes we put her in a car or taxi or on a train and take her on a trip. Sometimes we’ll pick her up and have her with us as we sit outdoors at a nearby restaurant with friends.
We’ve gone to greyhound "meetups" and met a two-year-old male that didn’t stop moving. His parents chose him because they love to run and his mom takes him on five-mile runs several times a week. We have found a good greyhound community in the city and a couple of people to carpool with for upcoming GFNJ events. Be warned that if you have a greyhound in the city, a lot of comments and questions will come your way, but to us, that is part of the fun of having Bella.
We’re her people as much as she’s our dog and she loves to be with us – some days I wonder who chose who. Life is “greyt” with this big black girl of ours.
Gil's Vermillion To Betty
Sue Smith, Prison Foster Program Coordinator
Gil's Vermillion came from Florida. We decided since she’s young, she'd benefit from our Prison Foster Program. She'd get special obedience training and a chance to grow up a bit. Like all the lucky greyhounds that go into the program, she blossomed. The day after she turned two, she found her forever home. We want to share her adopter’s letter to the inmate whose tender care helped this sweet girl get ready for "real" life.
Dear Sue: Just thought we would send a quick email. Things here are going great. Betty, as we now call her, is settling in. It's been a fun week. It's so much fun to see her come out of her shell and let more of her personality show. The first night she decided it was playtime at 3:00 am, which was interesting. It's funny though because Moses (our other grey) did so many of the things that she does. Betty now sleeps through the night - thank goodness! She has also become quite a lover and will roll over for you to pet her belly - the kids love when she does that. No problems at all with Moses and we just introduced her yesterday to our neighbor's yellow lab and again, no problems. She is definitely all puppy and loves to steal things but Moses gives them up without any issue. We have fallen in love with Betty and thank you again for all your help.
Hope to see you soon, Alicia.
Please pass along the following to the gentleman who cared for her and took such good care of her in the prison.
I have also included some pictures.
Hi, Well, it has been a week now since I arrived in my forever home. It appears that my name is now Betty and I am getting used to that. I have a brother named Moses. He is a "lurcher" (greyhound mixed with another sight hound) and supposedly is from Ireland, so he says. He and I are getting along great. He seems very happy to have someone to run around with in the backyard. He seems to think he is faster than me - I am just letting him win since I want to make a good impression. Moses loves when people throw this yellow ball and then he chases it - I am not sure what that is all about but maybe one day I will try that too. Thank you so much for teaching me how to sit and lay down. My new family loves when I do this on command.
It’s been an adjustment living in a new house but I am making progress. I know now that they don’t like it when I jump on the counters, and apparently not everything lying around is a toy. Who knew? Thank you also for teaching me good leash manners. It’s been too hot for many walks but the people here love that I am such a calm walker. Thank you again for taking such great care of me. Without you, I probably wouldn’t be here.
Make Every Day A Meet & Greet
by Patty Comerford
Folks from dog adoption groups might represent different breeds, but do lots of the same things – try to raise money and tell people how wonderful their breed of dog is. The most common combination of these two things can be found in something called a Meet & Greet.
So what is a Meet & Greet? In animal terms, it’s where volunteers introduce pets to the public. Meet & Greets (M&G’s) are usually held in some type of pet supply store, large box store, park, festival, street fair, etc. For the most part these M&G’s are somewhat organized – there is a donation jar, information to be handed out and a banner or poster promoting the group. Volunteers get to interact with the public and show off their pets – it’s also a great venue to generate interest in pets that are up for adoption.
I have done tons of Meet & Greets. I look forward to getting together with other greyhound owners, seeing how their dogs and foster dogs are doing, catching up on what’s going on. I love it when I hear someone picking up on a phrase that I have developed over time – “Yes, they take their retirement very seriously”. Watching new owners gain the confidence to talk about their dogs with the public is wonderful (and it gives someone else a chance to answer the same questions that people ask all the time). These Meet & Greets are important in that they get Greyhound Friends of NJ out in the public eye; they generate donations, exposure and adoption applications.
But isn’t there more? Well, sure. There is the everyday, not much to think about, we are just living our lives, daily interactions that sometimes turn out to be the best way to show off our greys:
- Walking down the block and letting your neighbors see how nicely your dog walks next to you.
- Wearing a great tee shirt with a greyhound logo.
- Filling up your car with gas and having the attendant ask, “What kind of dog is that?”
- Sitting in the vet’s office and showing how gorgeous your grey is (inside and out).
- Putting a magnet/bumper sticker on your car – people notice these things (especially if you drive on the Parkway in the summer on a Friday and it takes one hour to move one mile…)
- Taking your grey to the local ballgame and letting folks see how wonderful they can be with children.
- Putting a photo of your dog on your desk at work and telling your co-workers about its latest escapade (OK, you may need to edit what you say…)
- Putting up a blog, Facebook page, Tweeting, joining a message board — you get the drift.
The idea is to get the word out – greyhounds are pretty special. We know it, now let’s share with everyone else. If you are interested in starting a Meet & Greet in your area, or have an idea about an event that GFNJ can participate in, please contact Patty at email@example.com or Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adventures of a Foster Mom
By Tina Coyle
A few years ago I received an e-mail from Greyhound Friends, saying they were looking for people to foster. We had lost our three-year-old Doberman earlier that year to lymphoma, and our greyhound was really missing her. I talked to my husband about fostering, and he said, “Well, find out what’s involved.” So I called and found out the fostering procedure is about teaching the greyhound to make the transition to “real” life. We decided fostering wasn’t hard at all.
Since then, our home has become a nurturing place for wonderful, retired racers straight from the track. We’ve also fostered greys that had to leave their forever homes, for whatever reason. I think those dogs are more in need of a gentle, loving hand.
After we picked up our first foster, we adopted another dobie, Lexi, who LOVES making a new friend every few weeks. She even taught our current foster, Slammer Doll, how to go into the pool. Like most greyhounds, Doll doesn’t swim well, so I have to go in with her. She walks into the pool and sits on the stairs to cool off. Too cute! She takes the prize of “most memorable foster.”
Slammer Doll cooling off in the pool
I take pictures of every foster so we remember them when they’re gone. There have been SO many – 18 so far. They’re all so special, but I will always remember our first, Rambler. He was a cute nine-year-old “old man” when he came to us. We had him a few months and started to worry that no one would want an older dog, but a young couple met him at the picnic and just fell in love with him! They adopted him shortly thereafter.
It feels so good when you help a greyhound. I really enjoy helping these full grown “puppies.” They have to learn almost everything, but they’re happy, loving, eager to please and so smart. The shy ones are just as loving. I love teaching each dog new things, like stairs, and seeing them get so excited when they master them.
I have a six-year-old daughter who just loves all the dogs we foster, and as you can imagine, she wants to keep each one! She has grown up having fosters around and has learned how to care for them, teach them, and when to leave them alone. I hope she will continue to be a part of helping the dogs as she gets older. (I know GFNJ hopes so, too!)
To spread the word about these beauties, we talk to everyone about our fostering. Some people say, “So many dogs? How do you do it?” We tell them, “It’s not difficult.” We also hear, “Oh, I could never foster, I wouldn’t be able to give up the dog.” That’s not a problem for us, either. We know we’re a stepping stone on a path to a new life for these greyhounds. I just hand over the leash to their new family, kiss them on the head and say, “Bye baby, be good.” It’s bittersweet of course, but that’s what it’s all about, finding a greyhound a good home. My daughter comes to the Adoption Day events and pouts when our foster gets adopted. But when I ask her, “Who do you want to bring home today?” she claps her hands, smiles and picks her next buddy.
What started out as a “we can help out once in a while” kind of thing has turned into a rewarding adventure.
You Don’t Have A Cat?
by Lynn Heiler
Some people think they should prefer a cat-tolerant greyhound even if they don’t have a cat. If someone has cats, there’s no question – they need a greyhound that’s been tested and found to have a low prey drive and deemed cat-tolerant. But what if there’s no feline at home? Are they passing up a wonderful, loving, loyal greyhound in dire need of a home because she isn’t cat-tolerant?
A cat-keen grey will clearly not be a good playmate for Whiskers the cat, but she will love you as much as any other greyhound. She’ll be housebroken, learn to go up stairs and observe house rules as fast as a cat-tolerant one. She’ll walk nicely on a leash and adore you.
Highly refined over many millennia, the form of our sight hounds is downright impressive. They are a joy to watch run in a fenced area, every muscle rippling as they fly through their double-gaited stride…cat-tolerant or not. There’s nothing more exquisite as a statuesque greyhound.
What’s this mean to you? Not much, if you really need a cat-tolerant dog. But if you don’t have a cat or are willing to make adjustments in your lifestyle to keep Whiskers and your grey very separate, try to keep an open mind when you look for your next greyhound. Don’t let that beautiful greyhound go overlooked by potential adopters. They crave love, security and a new best friend as much as a cat-tolerant dog and as much as you.
A Walk On The (Not So) Wild Side
by Heidi Gehret
Do not try this in a non-fenced in area with a child but it shows the correct technique--relaxed, move forward and have fun.
Walking your new greyhound is very important; you will get to know and trust each other, bond and become pals. It should be a happy, secure, calm experience, a time when your dog should know you’re in charge. A walk should also be a mental exercise when your dog learns that’s when she should “do her business” – it is not a social event, and pulling is out of the question.
Generally, greyhounds are good on a leash, since they were leash-walked at the track. They were always told by their handler where they were going by his body language and the way he held the leash. The dogs were rarely given a long lead and allowed to walk in front of the handler. They knew he was in charge. But many adopters fall into bad habits that allow their dog to get away with being the leader. That’s a “no-no.”
I’ve heard new greyhound owners say, “My dog pulls too much and tries to sniff all the other dogs we see. She swerves in front of me from side to side. Sometimes, we come back in and she pees in the house even though she just had a walk. Help!”
If your greyhound is showing any kind of behavior problem, the first place to start in solving it is the walk. Whether your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety, insecurities, housebreaking issues or anxious behaviors, the solution starts with a proper walk. Most behavior problems begin with a dog that is insecure, living with an owner who doesn’t know how to communicate that they are the one in control. Your body language will show your grey that you are in control and will help your dog feel less anxious when you approach a walk as a training outing, not a social outing.
Here’s a list of simple things to remember for new grey owners or owners having problems at home to make your walk together fun and satisfying from the beginning:
- Follow the leader: YOU are the leader and Lulu will see that from your body language. Before you leave the house, don’t make a big deal out of going for a walk. Don’t say, “Come on Lulu, let’s go out!!!” Instead, put the leash on and go calmly out the door. You’re in charge, so act like it. If your dog bounces around and jumps up on you, stand calmly and wait for her to stop. Be calm. Once she quiets down, snap the leash on her, if she starts to jump around, start the exercise over by waiting for her to calm down. No words needed, just stand and wait. She’ll learn that in order to go out for her walk she has to be calm. Hold the leash in one hand, looped securely wrapped around your wrist, and a firm grip on the other end closest to the dog’s collar with your other hand, giving the dog a sense that you’re in control. This gives you the opportunity to prevent Lulu from walking from side to side or ahead of you by holding her in line next to you, not ahead of you. Walk with your head up, confidently, your greyhound will feel secure and ready for your direction. If Lulu pulls, correct her by giving the leash a tug to the side, which throws her balance off a little and breaks his pulling motion. Don’t pull back – that just makes her want to pull more. When she responds to the correction, let the leash loose… that’s her reward. Remember, your greyhound knows how to do all this having been taught by the handlers at the track, now you need to make her realize you’re the boss. If you don’t, she’ll take on that role.
- Taking care of business: One of the best ways to housebreak your greyhound is to pick a place where they should do their business. At first, always walk to the same spot and say, “Go pee.” It won’t take long before she’ll go toward that spot as soon as you say the words, and you’ll be sure she’s ready to come back inside with no mistakes.
- No time to play: If you want Lulu to understand you’re the boss and she has to do what you want, do not let her stop to play, sniff or be sniffed by a passing dog. Not only could you be asking for trouble if the passerby isn’t as nice as his mommy says he is, but it disturbs your grey’s concentration. If you see a person approaching with their dog on a leash, try to avoid contact by crossing the street or saying, “Please keep your dog away, we’re in training.” Nothing offensive there.
- Leader of the pack: Greyhounds are pack animals. During a walk in a pack, they naturally find their spot which gives them a sense of security so the can let go and just be what they want to be…a greyhound and not a leader. That’s why it is so important to walk properly so your dog doesn’t feel she has to take over the leading position. Your family is now Lulu’s pack.
- Safety on walks: Unfortunately, greyhounds can sometimes be the targets of more aggressive dogs. The best idea is to be prepared. Although some say to take pepper spray or a stick with you on a walk, the best idea is to carry a badminton racket because you’ll have more control. It’s light-weight with a long handle and wide face. If an aggressive dog approaches you and your grey, push the offending dog away with the racket. Try to stay calm and don’t yell, which can make things worse. Walk confidently, stand tall, breathe and raise your racket in front of you. You will look authoritative to the aggressive dog and hopefully he will not target you and your greyhound. But if he does, you will have a tool to help block him. Be aware of other owners with their dogs. Is their dog pulling at the end of the lead, dragging his owner down the street? Does the dog’s body language seem to be very forward and focused on getting to your Lulu? Well, that’s a sure sign of that dog being leader of his pack. As the leader, I would never allow a dog acting in such a way to approach my pack.
We know they’re couch potatoes, but greyhounds need to get exercise to expend energy, which otherwise can result in a tense, destructive pet. There’s nothing like a good walk to keep you and your greyhound happy. Following these steps will help make it an easy exercise, so to speak. Of course, if you have questions about the best way to walk your dog, call me, Heidi at 856-863-5898 or email me at email@example.com
Stay in touch!
Send pictures of your new greyhounds.
Let us see shots of your events.
Send us regular updates on your fosters.
Talk to other members on our official Facebook page.
Join our Message Board and share your experiences.
Watch our web site for arriving Greys & special announcements.
SAVE YOUR PRO PLAN WEIGHT CIRCLES
Weight circles from Pro Plan dog food bags help us pay our veterinary bills and buy food for the dogs in our prison foster program.
Please cut the circles from the side of the bag and send to Greyhound Friends of NJ.
*If you would like to receive this newsletter by "e-mail only", please notify
Patty Comerford at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if your e-mail or home address have changed, please notify Patty.
Greyhound Friends of New Jersey, Inc. Membership Application
Greyhound Friends of NJ Membership Dues go for the care of the greyhounds.
For an annual donation of $25 or more, members will receive a newsletter subscription and member decal; for $50 or more members will receive a newsletter subscription, decal and T- shirt; for the generous gift of $100, members will receive a newsletter subscription, decal and sweatshirt. Write your check today, payable to Greyhound Friends of NJ, Inc. and mail it with this form to:
Greyhound Friends of NJ., Inc., P.O. Box 4416, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034-0669.
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