Currently, most Greyhound adoption programs are based in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. In other places in Europe, the groups often deal with dogs from a variety of sources; for example, in Spain, ex-hunting dogs are often in need of rescuing along with Greyhounds.
Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) was established in 1987 for the purpose of finding homes for ex-racing greyhounds, and educating the public on the suitability and availability of greyhounds as pets. GPA is the largest non-profit greyhound adoption group. Since its creation GPA has adopted out over 65,000 greyhounds.
In 1989 David Wolf founded the National Greyhound Adoption Program (NGAP) mostly with his own resources. He has become the most controversial figure in the greyhound adoption community, and is one of the most outspoken critics of the greyhound racing industry.
The Greyhound Project maintains a directory of hundreds of greyhound adoption agencies throughout the world.
Over time as the number of adoption groups has grown, a deep ideological division regarding Greyhound racing has developed. Some groups are generally opposed to any form of Greyhound racing for any purpose. Others are officially racing neutral, meaning they neither oppose nor endorse dog racing. Many race tracks and racing dog owners support Greyhound adoption.
When Greyhound adoption first started in the United States, many people associated with racing argued that Greyhounds did not make suitable pets. However, it has become clear that Greyhounds make excellent companions. Greyhounds tend to be gentle and affectionate pets who adapt easily to household life.
There is some debate within the adoption community about which technique is better. The trade off is essentially quality of living situation vs. number of animals helped. It is generally accepted that by having kennels, the group can handle a larger number of dogs more efficiently, while groups that have a foster program can provide a better living situation for the dog more quickly. Some groups who use kennels also cite the hardship on the dog in becoming attached to a foster family and then being moved to their permanent homes.
Like any dog, greyhounds vary widely in their temperament, behavior, levels of activity, and in virtually all other aspects of their personality. As they are accustomed to a particular regimented environment at the track, they may adapt to life in a human home slowly, gradually overcoming fears of novel sounds and experiences. Greyhounds may not immediately understand windows and glass doors, attempting to move through them, and may require an introduction to staircases and slippery floor surfaces. Trainability varies, as with any breed, but many are highly food or toy motivated and therefore very trainable.
Although usually well-socialized with other greyhounds, ex-racers often fear other dog breeds until sufficiently exposed. As the lure used to train greyhounds for racing resembles a rabbit, retired racers might mistake smaller dogs for a lure, causing them to set chase. Similarly, small animals including cats may also be the subject of prey-driven behavior by some greyhounds. Prior to adoption, agencies generally screen greyhounds for their suitability around small animals.
Greyhounds have a strong prey drive, having been bred to hunt and chase, which is often difficult or impossible to overcome through training. Frequently, Greyhound adoption agencies require owners to keep them on-leash at all times, except in fully enclosed areas. This is in part due to their prey-drive, their speed, and because Greyhounds often have no road sense.
Greyhounds have very thin skin, and can be easily harmed by biting or scratching from other dogs. Combined with their low body fat, many owners put coats or sweaters on their dogs in cold weather.
At home, greyhounds may consider the house to be an extension of their crate, which they will usually not voluntarily urinate or defecate in. As a result, housebreaking may be surprisingly easy. As with all breeds, there are exceptions, and some greyhounds may be particularly difficult to housebreak.
Greyhounds enjoy resting on beds and sofas, often sleeping or dozing 16 hours a day or more. Particularly common is the so-called "roaching" or "cockroaching" sleeping position, where the Greyhound will roll onto his/her back and spread his/her legs at odd angles in all directions. This term originates from the fact that the position is similar to that of deceased cockroaches which are often found on their backs.
Greyhound adopter events are found wherever ex-racers are re-homed. Some are small local gatherings hosted by adoption groups; others are regional events drawing participants (dog and human) from great distances. The largest of these events is known as Greyhounds Reach the Beach, which takes place in Dewey Beach, Delaware in the United States. Two to four thousand dogs and their human escorts generally attend this event.
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