Note: I have 2 posts today because they are about two very different subjects.
I am not ending 2019 on a high note. Hubby and I chose to surrender our sweet Zoe the Greyhound back to the Greyhound Adoption Center, after a brief stay in our home. Here’s how we arrived at that gut-wrenching decision:
Zoe is a 2 yr 4 mo old Greyhound. She has an unusual history. But first, some basic Greyhound background. Pretty much every non-racing Greyhound you see has been retired from racing. Last year there were something like 4 non-racing Greyhound litters in the entire US, perhaps accidental litters.
A racing greyhound usually begins to race at around 18 mos, racing twice a week until they are retired at 3 or 4. They live at the track and are crated most of the day. They truly are couch potatos except when they’re racing, so this is not as burdensome as it might seem. Some say racing is entirely not entirely bad for them as they do live to run…or sleep. In the US there is a robust and cooperative system between owners and rescue to bring retired racers into a home.
Zoe retired very early, after only 4 races, 3 of which she won and the fourth she came in last. There was probably a good reason why she was retired but we don’t know what happened. We knew retired racers have lived a very circumscribed life and that it would take time and patience to acclimate Zoe to our home. We were prepared for that. A retired racer has not seen steps before, has only experienced sand or concrete and, the wide open spaces of a home would be intimidating to her.
It was clear from the get-go that Zoe was a sweet girl, gentle in nature and a quick learner.
But she was not happy in our home. She was miserable. Only in retrospect were we able to figure this out – she missed her friends! She wanted us in the same room, no one could leave or she would howl. It was almost like a scream though, like the sound your dog makes when you shut their tail in the door. This was not a gentle or quiet sound. And it was not brief.
We could not leave her for one second, no way. If one of us left to go run errands or whatever, she would yelp. She was clearly so unhappy. It was very much like having a newborn – you could not turn your back for one second. Maybe another good analogy was that she was like a baby with colic, miserable yet no one could omfort her. Yet when Greyhound friends came for a visit, she was happy!
We sought the help of a trainer recommended by the Greyhound people. She suggested 3 things: interrupt her behavior, give her peanut butter to occupy her or create an unusual sound to interrupt her. None of that did anything at all. She had zero interest in Kongs or any other toy when she was agitated. Then it was suggested to use doggie CBD. Did that, very expensive stuff, but it did nothing. At one point the trainer suggested a visit to the vet to inquire about doggie Prozac.
That just did not feel right to us and it was a turning point: if we have to double medicate her just to get her to tolerate our home, then something was not right. We were not right for her.
I have a philosophy about dogs and how to choose and treat them:
- Honor the breed. Make sure the breed makes sense for your lifestyle. No herders around small children, no long-hair if you’re a neat freak, no hunters if you’re not going to walk them.
- Honor the dog. Your dog has a personality, honor it. If you want a Velcro dog, don’t expect them to be independant. If your dog is high-energy, you must exercize that dog every day no matter how you feel.
- Train the dog to fit into your home and expectations. Little things like will they sleep with us, be on the furniture, be given people food, etc.
For us, the problem was #2, honor the dog. We fell head-over-heels in love with the breed! But she was used to being around other hounds all. the. time. She enjoyed our cushy home, but more than anything she wanted to hang with her friends. We just could not do that. We were not game for 2 dogs and besides, you need to get one adjusted and confident before you bring in another.
It just was not going to work. I shed many tears. It hurt to see this beautiful creature be miserable, and we were unable to do anything that brought her comfort. We discussed all kinds of scenarios but at the end of the day, she was miserable. For the time being she is with a wonderful adoption person’s home, frolicking with other Greys, a Whippet and llamas. She has a zillion toys and lots of action. I will keep up with her but at this point, the plan is to return her to the Adoption Center where a better home with another hound will be found for her.
So, failure is an option. We tried. It did not work. It was a failure and it hurts my heart that she was so miserable here. As far as failure goes, failure is a part of life. Failure is okay. Failure means I tried. I loved the breed – Greyhounds are amazing creatures and I’d love to have one. But right now we are done. After Zeke’s horrific and early departure followed by this, we just can’t do it again.
This sunny spot should have a dog in it. We’ve had 2 dogs enjoy this sunny winter spot. Will there be another? Right now we are done. But stay tuned.