The Greyhound Sisters

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These two pups were at the SPCA when I visited last week, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there were long gone. After all, their brindle brother was sold as I arrived, and I was stoked to see his new human carrying him away from his cage.

These girls were a handful, and extremely hard to shoot. I think coming out of their cages was just far too exciting for anything other than hyperactivity, but their elated frenzy was contagious, and I found myself grinning from ear to ear and playing with them in no time.

This energy is not necessarily a symptom of hanging out in a cage – it is just as likely to be the expression of their greyhound genes. It is a common misconception that Greyhounds need constant, long-lasting exercise; they are actually bred to be sprinters, so they just need to be able to have short bursts of very high energy release. Chasing other dogs or balls in the park will do the trick for the most part.

Biologically speaking, Greyhounds are incredibly fascinating. They are by far the fastest dog breed, reaching speeds of up to 70km per hour. To accommodate this skill, they have uniquely flexible spines, very little body fat, and an enormous heart which is able to pump huge volumes of blood (which itself contains an unusually large number of red blood cells) at a rapid rate, allowing for greater quantities of oxygen to reach the muscles. Because they have been bred predominately for racing, their health is of a very high priority, so Greyhounds have very little genetic health problems. In fact, the worst condition they suffer is bed sores – because they are so thin and bony, if their beds are not soft enough, the pressure gives them little bruises and muscle aches.

The temperament of a Greyhound is quite unlike any other dog breed. Once they are adults, they are eerily calm and oddly dignified, so much so that they are often likened to a cat. They are said to move through your house with distinction and grace, careful not to knock anything down or bump furniture. After their short, all-out sprint for the day, Greyhounds are content to be couch potatoes, and they do not do well around frequent tension and loud voices. These gentle giants rarely bark, and they are extremely nonaggressive. Unfortunately they often have a bad reputation because of the muzzles that racers wear. These muzzles are only worn by a trained racer, because they have a tendency to chase and nip at small, fluffy animals (just like they are trained to during a race). Despite this tendency, they are also often quick to coexist with this animals after a little bit of training.

Greyhounds make excellent pets, and the good news is, ex-racers are an ethical and wise purchase. They are well-trained, calm and collected, relatively cheap, and most importantly they would be saved from being put-down when they are of no more use to the industry. Having said that, the Greyhound sisters at the SPCA are also an ethical choice, but with their beautiful personalities I’d say you would have to get in quick!

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