Life with a Greyhound

The NSW and ACT governments have just announced a ban of greyhound racing starting in 2017 following a Four Corners investigation into animal cruelty in the industry. Taking a long-term view, there can be no doubt that this is a good decision. However, to make sure the decision doesn’t turn into a disaster in the short-term,  we do need the dog-loving community in Australia to open their doors to the thousands of greyhounds who are about to lose their jobs.

We recently became parents to a 2.5 year-old rescue greyhound called Talbot — he is an ex-racer and his track name was Little Vegas  — and I’m writing this blog piece to share our experience in the hope that more people will adopt a grey.

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Talbot officially became a part of life on 27 May 2016 after a three-week trial period. His foster parent named him after Talbot the car and we decided to keep the name.

The most common misconception about greyhounds is that they are a high-energy breed requiring a lot of exercise everyday. Nothing can be further from the truth. These gentle dogs are actually like cheetahs: they can sprint at high speed for 30 seconds and then they are all exhausted and ready to sleep the rest of the day. Talbot sleeps for many hours every day. I haven’t counted, but people claim greyhounds sleep up to 20 hours per day and I gather that’s in the right ballpark. This is Talbot’s favourite posture.

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Talbot can snore a little bit. And you’ll know when he’s having a nightmare losing yet another race. 🙂 We were told he was never very good at racing.

True to form, Talbot doesn’t need a lot of exercise but he does love his short 40-minute daily walks around the suburb and slightly longer weekend walks around Lake Burley-Griffin and Lake Ginninderra. Some greyhounds have a prey drive and can chase bikes and small animals. Not Talbot though. He has a perfect temperament, treats each dog on the walks with respect, and loves getting pats from strangers. (He’s a bit of a ladies man.) He’s also very light on the leash, although his walking tempo is pretty high. (We sometimes have to jog slowly to keep up with him.)

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Talbot has the potential to get into (some harmless) mischiefs if he doesn’t get his walks, which happens sometimes when the weather is foul the whole day. When completely bored, Talbot can take to shredding empty boxes (taken from the recycling bin) and tissue paper to entertain himself.

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Talbot the mathematician calculating how long a piece of paper is…
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Talbot checking out the fine-prints on the packaging and threw a fit when he saw the calories number….

Or, worse, he will decide to run a few laps in the backyard to release some energy. We have a good-sized yard but it takes him only 3-4 strides to go from one end to the other.

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The strength of Talbot’s strides, his ability to reach top speeds quickly, and the sheer number of stuffs — trees, stairs, garages, pavement — in our yard can all combined in the blink of an eye to produce an embarrassed dog and a worried/annoyed owner.

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Talbot had a small cut on his hind leg running in the yard and we had to put on the cone-of-shame to make sure he doesn’t lick the wound.

Despite all that, we adore Talbot. He’s just a sweet, gentle giant with a lot of love to give. (At least when he’s not sleeping.)

We did spend a couple of weeks preparing for Talbot’s arrival. To begin with, greyhounds can be quite big and Talbot, on 34kg, is definitely on the larger end of the breed. It took us quite a few shopping trips to get the appropriate doggie door and to-be grey owners need to spend time taking care of this issue too. (No, greyhounds can’t be outside dogs; they certainly won’t survive the Canberra winter.)

If you lived in a cold part of Australia, please also note that greyhound need warm clothing because they have very little body fat in them. We ordered a few from Annie’s Coats and we are quite happy with them. http://www.anniescoats.org/

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Talbot getting ready for a march…

Another thing to note is that greyhounds can be quite sensitive to food so give plenty of transition time when changing dry food. They can get stomach upset even with fairly high quality kibbles. Which brings me to one last point: they do poop a lot so be prepared to scoop and scoop. 🙂

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Land mines in the yard

If you can get past all that, then you’re prepared to give a grey or two a forever home and, for your trouble, be repaid with lots of of love and smooches.

Here’s a motto to live by if you need any more convincing. 🙂

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