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Dog Friendly Tips: Fast Friends - Greyhounds Are Dogs for Adoption

More and more greyhounds - retired racers - are showing up at family homes to begin new lives as pets. This is the happy result of efforts by organizations like Greyhound Pets of America (Google for equivalent Greyhound re-homing centres in the UK) and changing attitudes of the public. People across the country are realizing that these stately animals actually make good pets.

About the Breed

The greyhound is an ancient breed, as evidenced by Egyptian tomb drawings that date back to 2900 BC. They first came to America with Spanish explorers in the 1500s. They are tall and lean - the fastest breed of dog that can reach 45 m.p.h. in a few strides. Only one animal - the cheetah - can accelerate faster. Fully grown greyhounds reach 60 to 70 pounds and live about 12 years. Racing greyhounds usually retire after age two to six. They have a very short, smooth coat, are low-shedding and are counted among the favourite dogs for people with allergies.

From Racer to Family Member

In the 1980s an organized greyhound-rescue movement began to take shape. The idea was to take dogs from the tracks when their racing days were over and adopt them out to good people who were looking for pets. The movement grew and today some 80,000 retired greyhounds have made the transition from athlete to family pet. There are numerous organizations finding homes for these dogs, but Greyhound Pets of America, established in 1987, is the leader of the pack.

The 45 m.p.h. Couch Potato

Most people are surprised to learn that greyhounds aren't nervous, hyperactive dogs that might spring into action at any moment. Quite the contrary. Since the dogs for adoption haven't had a "puppyhood", each one needs a bit of time to get used to home surroundings and even learn to play with toys. This process goes quickly and very soon the dog is a full-fledged member of the family. Greyhounds are known for being gentle, loving pets that enjoy the company of people and other dogs. Indoors, they are quiet, calm and extremely well-mannered. They get along well with children, but it's a good idea to supervise play at first. You might expect the world's fastest dog to be in constant motion. Far from it. Owners report that a greyhound can easily sleep for 18 hours if he's not disturbed. Hence the couch potato moniker.

Blood Donors

Another surprise about greyhounds is that their blood is special - a quality that makes many of them eligible to be universal donors for veterinary blood services. Greyhound blood has a higher red cell count, lower white cell count and lower platelet count. Vets often offer free care to these blood donors.

The writer is involved in informing pet lovers about dogs that are considered safe for people with allergies. For more information on this subject, visit

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