By Maggie Mae…with Ronni Diamondstein
One day I was talking about my job as a journalist to my friend Jester, who is a Greyhound, and he told me that he once had a job too. “When I was young I was a racing dog and now I am retired,” he said. Jester and I are both five years old so I thought it was strange that I was in the prime of my career and he had already retired. “I was racing in Florida and broke my leg so they didn’t want me to race anymore.” He told me that he spent months in a crate before anyone repaired his leg. That made me sad. My owner would never treat me that way, and I know Jester’s Chappaqua family would never do that to him. I wondered how he got here from the south. “I was adopted through Greyhound Rescue & Rehabilitation, and that’s how I came to live with Sophie and her family,” he said.
I was curious about greyhound racing, because the only racing I know is when I run around in my house or chase a squirrel. From the ASPCA I found out that racing dogs are not treated as well as I am. They spend a lot of time in crates and when they can’t race anymore they are put to sleep forever. That made me even sadder, so I decided to find out about the Greyhound Rescue & Rehabilitation (known also as GRR). I contacted the President and Founder, Christine Johnson, who lives in Cross River. She told me that she started GRR after she got her own dog. Her sister recommended that she adopt a retired greyhound, because she lived in a condo and racing dogs don’t need to run a lot. I was surprised that racers didn’t need to run, but she explained that to me. “Greyhounds live most of their lives in crates so they make excellent apartment pets,” said Johnson. She adopted her first dog in 1999. It worked so well that within four months she adopted a second.
Johnson started GRR because she loved her dogs so much. She found out that there were lots of retired greyhounds that had been injured or “were just a split second too slow ” Unless these dogs found homes, their futures were uncertain.
GRR takes greyhounds from all over the country. “Most of the hounds have no medical issues, but we do take in as many with injuries as we can afford.” Like Jester, some of them break their legs while racing. “The retired racers we get are from 2 to 6 years old, however we will take younger dogs if they’re injured while getting ready to race or older dogs, which we refer to as ‘brood moms’ who have had racing careers and then a second career having puppies,” says Johnson. GRR doesn’t have a kennel so after each dog is examined by a veterinarian and either spayed or neutered, it needs a foster family to care for it until it is adopted. I was surprised to learn that the foster family has to teach the dog how to be a pet. Racing dogs have never learned to go up and down stairs or walk on a leash. They don’t even know about those things in your house that you can look through but not get to what is on the other side. My owner calls them windows. And I couldn’t believe it when Johnson told me that these dogs have never even had a ride in a car, which is, next to going for a walk and eating, one of my favorite things to do.
So to help these greyhounds find families to love, GRR runs adoption “Meet and Greet” events in our area. Dogs like Jester are on hand at the events as “Ambassadogs”. If you want to adopt a greyhound or find out more about Greyhound Rescue & Rehabilitation and the upcoming events go to their website: www.greyhoundrescuerehab.org
Who knew that my sweet and personable greyhound friend Jester had such an interesting history? Makes me wonder what my next career could be. Some kind of “Ambassadog” sounds good to me!
Contact Maggie Mae Pup Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maggie Mae lives in Chappaqua with her adoring owner Ronni Diamondstein, who, when she isn’t walking Maggie is a freelance writer, PR consultant, award-winning photographer and a School Library Media Specialist and teacher who has worked in the US and abroad.