(Read Chapter 1 in ‘Greyhounds Category’)
A dog is a dog.
Although I had heard the phrase ‘greyhounds are different’ I was not prepared for what should happen. How different could she be? Every dog is different, but still as a whole, a dog is a dog –right? OK, so greyhounds supposedly don’t know how to climb stairs, don’t know what to do with toys, have never seen a mirror, are unaccustomed to be a family pet, have never been alone in their lives. On the tracks they live with hundreds of other greyhounds side by side in kennels. They are accustomed to a routine that is the same every day: up at dawn, relief themselves, food, training, relief, food, training …. and in-between endless hours in tight kennels sleeping in the midst of the chaos of a bustling race track.
I thought I was well prepared, having internalized countless books on the breed and prep talks from the rescue. “Be patient, she’ll stick to you like glue for a couple of weeks; keep her in a kennel at first, that’s what she is used to, keep a routine, stay with her as much as possible. Watch her with the cat and your little dog”. Sounded like any other dog I ever picked up from the pound.
What I wasn’t prepared for was HER utter unpreparedness. She was like a fish out of water, literally. And so was I.
To be continued.
I needed dog legs…
Donna was her racing name, as in Prima Donna. Back then I thought that was a weird name for a dog, but back then I didn’t know anything about greyhounds even though I had been around other dogs as long as I remember.
I don’t remember when I first noticed greyhounds but a few years ago three of them appeared in one of my paintings.
Or rather their legs did. I needed some tall legs for a painting in my –toys and dogs- series so I paid more attention to the anatomy of different breeds and stumbled onto the somewhat grotesque physique of the canine racer’s ‘turkey leg’. Muscle packed and over sized at one end to bare bones and stick like at the other. Now that was the perfect model.
Pretty soon I was painting the rest of their bodies, fascinated by how, even in the last details, these dogs are build for minimum wind resistance and maximum speed. The eyes were what hooked me. Huge and perfectly almond shaped, deep amber in color, there was an expressiveness in them not often seen in other dogs.
Of course one can’t get interested in greyhounds and not hear about the controversies around the race tracks.
Greyhounds, once discarded from the track as losers, face death. Nowadays rescues around the country find homes for many of them but a lot of them still get killed. There are about 10 race tracks left around the country, mostly in Texas and Florida.
Soon I was in touch with a local rescue. My little dog Kruemel had just turned 18 and her days were slow and surely numbered. I could handle another dog, even a big one. My research showed that greyhounds are calm dogs overall with only short bursts of energy, otherwise couch potatoes, affectionate and mellow with a cat like personality. Even though much of this turned out to be true I was not prepared for what it would take to get there.
It took a while to find the right dog because it needed to be matched for cat and small dog compatibility, since track dogs are trained on life bunnies and furry lures and greyhounds have a long history as hunting dogs.
And so one day, there she was, beautiful Donna. Coming from the Arizona race track she was the pup of successful racing champions with a history as far back as the 1800’s starting in England then Australia and eventually coming to the US. Discarded after only 6 test races because she didn’t win, she showed up at the rescue at 4 years old.
Snow white, with a wild sprinkle of black spots like poppy seeds (which gave her her off-track name) she was a dog painters dream. A black ‘eye patch’ and one larger spot on her forehead made her face unique and gave a glow to her amber eyes. A glow that was only there in color not in spirit as I found out soon enough.
-To be continued.
Common symptoms of illness. Check with your vet:
Changes in activity level or behavior
Confusion or disorientation
Changing sleeping patterns
Bad breath/red gums
New lumps or bumps
Poor vision or hearing
Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping up
Fainting or signs of weakness
Source: Dog-o-Pedia by Mary Frances Budzik
You can find a comprehensive list of many dog diseases with detailed descriptions and symptoms on http://www.gopetsamerica.com/
Check out the link on this site or your local rescue group for adopting a greyhound.
Greyhounds were amongst the most highest-favored of all dogs; Pharaohs and other Egyptian, Asian and African leaders had images of their dogs engraved into their tombs dating as far back as 4000BC. However, DNA analysis done in 2004 put it close to herding dogs, implying that although greyhounds have been around for millennia, the modern breed sprang from a wider genetic base more recently. Greyhounds were first used for hunting antelopes, wolves and deer and after the decline of large game for coursing smaller animals. Later track racing took over which again proved them to be the fastest dogs on earth with speeds around 40 miles. Only the cheetah is faster in the animal world. The ‘grey’ does not refer to color but, according to some sources, comes from Old English, meaning ‘fine’. Others say it is contracted form of ‘degree hound’ as it was once allowed to be possessed only by people with degrees. And others say that it derives from Greece.
The greyhound has a graceful, strong muscled, deep-chested, narrow-waisted, streamlined body. While running its long tail acts as a keel and the ears can fold toward the neck. Males can measure between up to 30”, weighing up to 70 lbs.
The greyhound has his eyes well positioned at the sides of his head giving him a far wider field of view than other dogs (270 degrees versus 180 degrees.) They are sight hounds and can spot movement up to half a mile away.
Greyhounds are calm and social indoors and are often referred to as couch potatoes. Although greyhounds are possibly the most athletic of all domestic dogs they do not necessarily need a lot of exercise. Two 20 minute walks a day will usually suffice. A high fenced garden is advised as they are great jumpers. Greyhounds are fairly easy to train and can learn almost all commands. However, they must never be allowed off leash in public places, as it is in their natures to chase anything that moves and may choose to totally ignore you if they have their eyes set on a prey.
They are affectionate with their families although can be aloof with strangers. They normally get on well with other dogs in the household but cat owners should exercise caution although many are said to tolerate or even take to cats or small dogs. Because of their nature as sprinters, greyhounds have relatively low endurance and their conditioning need to be slowly build up if you’d like to take him jogging.
Greyhounds rarely bark. The joke goes that greyhounds are good watchdogs: they watch thieves carry your stuff away. They are relatively small eaters and will therefore not cost a lot to feed. Grooming is very easy, a good brush once a week is enough. They don’t have much body odor but like most short haired dogs do shed a little.
Greyhounds will live on average for 10 to 12 years. However, some ex-racers only live to 7 possibly due to the use of steroids during their racing careers.
Because of the greyhound’s explosive physical abilities, they are prone to leg injuries. They are also known to be sensitive to drugs, especially sedatives. Adopted greyhounds will need regular dental care as their teeth are generally badly neglected. Nails must be kept short and the ears kept clean. Skin irritations of the tail and esophageal malformations are possible breed ailments.
Related Designer Mixes:
Whippet: Cross of fox terrier and greyhound
Other greyhound breeds:
Spanish greyhound (Spain)
Rampur greyhound (India)
Check out the link on this site or your local rescue group for adopting a rescued Weimaraner.
The Weimaraner was bread in Germany over one thousand years ago and is kin to the German Pointer. Some claim it is discernable in a 17th century painting by Van Dyck. It was used for big game hunting until big game declined. Treasured in the 19th century by the aristocrats of Weimar, Germany, it was then and now popular for hunting small game, and, because of its soft carrying mouth for water fowl. It has Bloodhound and Pointer blood and is still used as a working dog.
Weimeraners are strikingly beautiful dogs with a strong boned build, light amber eyes and a sleek short coat of silver to mouse gray. They can reach heights up to 28” and weigh between 60 and 85 lb. Not in need of extensive grooming, once a week brushing keeps the coat shiny. Shedding in minimal.
Although more rare, the longhair with a smooth or slightly wavy coat up to 5″ long needs more grooming attention.
Weimaraners need thorough training and regular and extensive exercise. This is not a city dog. Sufficient space, a fenced yard, and lots of human attention will make them excellent companions as they are all-round dogs who love family life. They are friendly, intelligent and energetic but, with their vigilance, make excellent guard dogs if their home or family are threatened. Because of their dominance, they are not recommended for first time dog owners.
Overbreeding has let to temperament problems such as aggression and separation anxiety in some lines. Lack of exercise will make them aggressive and difficult and can lead to destructive behavior.
Weimaraners are affected by the usual canine problems but with no great frequency. They are, however, prone to two more unusual problems: spinal dysraphism which is a severe though non-lethal condition, affecting the gait and giving an unusual stance which resembles a crouched position. Ear infections are easily acquired due to the drop-eared conformation.
Related Designer Mixes:
Recent designer dog mixes have produced the Labmaraner, a cross of a Labrador Retriever and a Weimaraner. This breed is an outdoorsy, fast, agile breed not meant for urbanites. They need good management which can be trying because of an underlying stubbornness. Consistent training and tough regulations are needed to keep the peace in your house.
Labmaraner can weigh from 50 to 100 lb and their coat color ranges from dark gold to pale cream, black, and chocolate.
Labmaraner (photo by Anna Kuperberg)
Last Sunday was the Greyhound Friends for Life 2009 Reunion. Greyhound Friends for Life is a local rescue group who finds new loving homes for rejected racing dogs or any greyhound in need. It was quite a sight. These graceful dogs calmly hanging out with each other. I’m hooked. For more info on this dedicated group go to http://www.greyhoundfriendsforlife.org