When I started Seattle DogSpot I knew nothing about greyhounds. I had never met one and didn’t know anyone that had one for a pet.
Since them I’ve learned that greyhounds are gentle, fun-loving dogs that make fantastic pets. And contrary to what most people think, these athletic dogs are actually couch potatoes that don’t need tons of daily exercise.
Many of them sleep up to 20 hours a day.
A Little Greyhound History
I learned even more from Lori Bigler, the volunteer with Greyhound Pets of America Greater Northwest who invited me to meet the dogs.
She told me that greyhounds were originally bred for hunting. As long as 5000 ago, Kings and Pharaohs hunted with packs of them to chase down various types of animals.
Here are some other things I learned about greyhounds while researching their history:
The only breed of dog mentioned by name in the Bible is the greyhound. (Proverbs 30:29-31, King James Version): “There be three things which do well, yea, Which are comely in going; A lion, which is strongest among beasts and Turneth not away from any; A greyhound; A he-goat also.”
The greyhound is the first dog breed mentioned in English literature. The monk in Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century The Canterbury Tales reportedly spent great sums on his greyhounds: “Greyhounds he hadde as swifte as fowel in flight; Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.”
Shakespeare mentioned greyhounds in several of his plays, including Henry V: “I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot.”
Irish Greyhounds Have Tough Lives
The dogs live in the Irish countryside, outdoors or in sheds, huddling together for warmth.
They only leave the farm to go to the track on race day, then they come back to the farm. Some live in muzzles 24/7.
Thousands of Irish Greyhounds Killed Annually
As in other countries, greyhounds that can no longer race or breed are killed in Ireland.
According to a confidential business analysis report prepared for the Irish Greyhound Board in 2017 by consultants Preferred Results Ltd., “up to 6,000 greyhounds are being killed each year because they are not fast enough.”
Fortunately, groups dedicated to reduce the slaughter of greyhounds have emerged in Ireland. One of these groups, Flying Irish Greyhounds, coordinated the journey of the eight greyhounds that arrived at SeaTac last month.
From SeaTac to New Homes
After their twelve hour journey to a new country, the dogs were a bit dazed and wary as they emerged from their crates, but after some bathroom breaks and a bit of sniffing, they all perked up and a few did some happy jumps.
Flying Irish Greyhounds had already found homes for all the dogs, so as soon as the dogs took care of business and stretched their legs, the groups took them to meet their new humans.
Four of them – Atta, Gunner, Vicki, and Connie – went with Greyhound Pets of America Greater Northwest in Washington.
The rest – Dutch, Fly, Beau, and Keen – went to Portland-based
Greyhound Pet Adoption Northwest.
Generally, Greyhound Pets of America waits a few weeks before their greyhounds can be adopted, but in this case, Flying Irish Greyhounds had already found homes with people that had extensive experience with the breed.
Washington Greyhound Adoption Groups Rock
I must say, in my experience of writing about dog adoption groups, greyhound groups have some of the most organized, hard working, and effective volunteers I’ve seen.
They have adoption events virtually every weekend and they prepare extensively for each group of dogs that arrive in Washington.
And they’re fiercely dedicated to saving these athletic dogs and finding them the best homes possible.