We rehomed Max about 2 years ago, when he retired from racing, via the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust. Little did I know how many questions I would answer about rehoming a greyhound on our daily walks, from workmen calling out ‘Did he win anything?’ to toddlers asking if he is a donkey, to people seriously considering adopting a greyhound wanting to know about food and walks.
Once I had the best chat with an elderly Scottish gentleman who told me stories of helping his Dad train a greyhound by cycling across the park with various treats tied to the back of his bicycle, then there is the lady across the road had a greyhound she says lived to be 19, and always stops to stroke Max. He is a great conversation starter.
1. Did he win anything?
Max aka Bower Hawk apparently won 20 of his 60 races at national level, which is pretty impressive, so I am told, I’ve never really been a fan. He had a knack of coming in from the back and winning, which made him an exciting dog to watch. His father was the legendary Westmead Hawk, the first animal to be given a waxwork at Madame Tussards.
2. Is he a ‘rescue’ dog?
That’s a tricky one, as any sport that involves betting is obviously open to abuse. As with all dogs, sadly I know people who have rescued racing greyhounds who have been badly treated, or cast aside when they couldn’t race. But I have now met many greyhound trainers through forums, and read blog posts about their routines and dog’s days – it is clear many take much better care of their dogs than the average owner.
Max had a long wait in kennels to be rehomed, but kennels were what he was used to, it was adopting to life in a family home that too some practice, more on that in a minute.
Our impressions of Max lead us to believe that he has been very well trained and cared for, both as a racer and during his time with the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust while waiting for a home, and the vet concurs, so I generally say he was rehomed or adopted. This certainly made taking on a dog who has had a previous life really easy for us.
On one hand, Max is a very pampered pooch these days, he loves his new bed and soft blanket. And yes, I do tuck him in and cover him up with this lovely fleecy blanket at night.
On the other hand, I do sometimes wonder if he misses the excitement, the company of other dogs, the attention of his trainer, from his racing days,
3. He must have so much energy, does he run around the house all day?
No, he sleeps, a lot, an awful lot. Greyhounds are sprinters, a quick dash and they are worn out.
I purposefully chose the greyhound breed because I work at home and I knew I wouldn’t cope with a dog that was too busy, yappy or chewy. Max sleeps most the day, in fact he is a lot like a cat.
His gorgeous and very comfortable new bed he was sent from Wayfair to review, I finally found some cool designs, I love the stag print, but there is also a hare print, which amused me, as I am always wondering if Max dreams about rabbits. The bed comes in lots of sizes, even big enough for a stretched out greyhound and it is great to have a more unusual design that matches the room.
4. Do greyhounds need lots of exercise, you must have to walk him lots?
It’s actually a myth that greyhounds need a lot of walks, two twenty minute walks a day is enough and Max walks beautifully on the lead. From time to time we take him somewhere enclosed where it is safe for him to zoom around off lead. Greyhounds can reach 40mph so its important they can’t bump into things, or become disorientated and get lost, and extendable leads are a complete no no as you can imagine!
He does do the odd bit of Yoga, downward dog is his favourite…
5. Why does he have a coat on?
Greyhounds don’t have a lot of fat and feel the cold more than other dogs. Max loves his snug wax jacket.
He also feels the cold at night, but he has been sleeping brilliantly since we upgraded his bed and invested in a really warm blanket, no more trying to hop on my bed at 5am!
6. Why has he got a tattoo in his ear?
I believe that was used to make sure the right dog was entered in the right race. People have also told me Irish dogs have tattoos in both ears, so maybe he is Irish.
7. Is it true greyhounds can’t climb stairs?
Many racing hounds will not have had to encounter houses before, and things like stairs or French windows can take time to adjust to. It was the funniest thing to watch Max’s legs fly in every direction at first, but he soon cracked the stairs. He does tend to go up and down at speed, which can be a little unnerving the first time you see it, he never barks at the door, but he will come flying down to welcome me home, or to see who is at the door. Some owners stick stickers on French windows, to stop dogs running into them.
8. How long did it take him to settle?
The first few days took some adjustment, Max didn’t like being on his own at night, so we moved his bed upstairs and he has been brilliant ever since. It is possible to teach greyhounds to sleep downstairs, we were just soft! He also had to learn how to behave around food, and although he is tall enough to steal from the table, he quickly learnt that putting his feet on the table to help himself wasn’t allowed. He was very quickly house trained thanks to advice from Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust. I would be lying if I said there weren’t occasional accidents, but these are the result of missing a walk or being left alone for too long – our fault rather than Max’s.
He manages odd days alone, but generally we don’t leave him for more than 4 hours at a time, he loves to be where we are, and will make his bed on the floor of whichever room we are in. He also likes to have peace, greyhounds sleep very deeply, so he has a quiet corner of the house where we all know to leave him to himself.
9. Don’t greyhounds take up lots of room?
Greyhounds are tall dogs, but they are skinny and can also curl up very small. Max will take up the whole 4 person sofa if we let him, but we can equally fit 3 people and Max on the sofa when he curls up. Boot space is a consideration, especially for holidays, but we find we can still fill 1/2 of the estate car boot around him. He is so calm and quiet around the house, so he doesn’t feel like a big dog.
10. Don’t they eat a lot of food?
Max eats two mugs of dry food, twice a day – the vet says dry food is best for his teeth. Sometimes we give him bits of meat, fish, leftovers, eggs and cheese as a treat.
Black dogs get an unfair bad name
Having Max has been the most brilliant adventure, he is truly part of the family. I never liked people referring to depression as a black dog, because Max is quite the opposite, he calms me down when I am stressed, he is the kid’s first port of call after a long day at school. He keeps me company working at home and he encourages us all outdoors for some head space.
Let me know if you have any more questions about rehoming a greyhound in the comments, and I will answer them, or tweet me @pennyalexander_