For many of us, April means the arrival of Spring, but it is also an important month in the greyhound industry because it is Greyhound Adoption Month. In honor of Greyhound Adoption Month, we spoke with Greta Conroy, a greyhound foster parent for The Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions (BAGA), located in Florida. BAGA matches retired greyhound racers with their forever homes, with most of the pups being placed in foster homes before their adoption so that BAGA can begin to understand the greyhound’s personality and help start the transition from the track to home. BAGA also works with the Greyhound Advancement Center’s Hardee Hero Hounds program, where certain retired racers are trained at the Hardee Correctional Institution Work Camp before being adopted. Through the Hardee Hero Hounds program, greyhounds are trained in home basics and commands while the inmates receive the wonderful opportunity to work and grow with these greyt pups.
We always love to hear a greyhound love story, meaning that moment when someone learned about greyhounds and fell in love with them. For Greta, it was after her family moved to Florida and came across a greyhound adoption group while shopping. It was love at first sight and Greta knew that she wanted to get involved with greyhounds. After doing a lot of research, Greta and her family found BAGA, where they have been helping foster pups ever since.
“We went to a meet and greet, within a week had a home visit with a greyhound who licked my 5-year-old son for hours, and received our first foster in two weeks.”
Once their first foster pup was adopted and had left for their forever home, Greta and her family knew they needed a greyhound of their own, a feeling so many of us who have adopted a greyhound can fully understand.
“The right dog was foster number 4, Rusty, in January of 2013,” said Greta. “Our second foster ‘failure’ was Charlie, a year later, to keep Rusty from being lonely after the fosters were gone. We [have] fostered 40-50 dogs in the 4 years.”
Clearly, Greta and her family had caught the greyhound love bug. Greta explained that she usually receives about 10 foster dogs a year. We often don’t know too much of the actual process of greyhound adoption, besides the part where the new owners receive their retired racer, so Greta was nice enough to explain the process at BAGA. Once an owner decides to retire a racer, BAGA picks up the dog(s) and takes them to a foster home, where they begin their acclimation into pet life. Some go to BAGA President Linda Lyman’s home till they are spayed or neutered before they head to their foster home. The pups remain in their foster home for two weeks, to adjust to home life, before they are adopted.
“Some dogs get acclimated to a family life right away and could get adopted faster,” said Greta. “Some need more time. I am a stay at home mom and I love getting the shy ones that need special attention. My Rusty has been a big help in getting the dogs used to living in a home”
Sounds like Rusty is quite the special pup. Greta further explained that “BAGA has meet and greets every weekend and we bring our fosters and own greyhounds to socialize. That’s usually when the potential adopters get to meet them.”
Having meet and greets is essential for most greyhound adoption organizations as they allow people to get to know and learn more about these amazing retired racers. They are, often times, the first steps into the adoption process for many families.
While most of the greyhounds go from the track, to their foster home, to their forever home, some of the greyhounds make another stop for the Hardee Hero Hounds program. This special training lasts 8-10 weeks, followed by a graduation. During the pups’ graduation, they show off what they have learned, during their training, through commands and tricks. Greta explained that, most of the time, all of the pups in the training program are adopted before they graduate, meaning that they get to head to their forever homes after graduation.
Clipper at graduation from the Greyhound Advancement Center
“At the graduation, the new families get a bag with an info packet, notes from the trainers, a toy, ball, muzzle, belly band (diaper that helps with house training). The adoption paperwork gets signed after the graduation, and dogs go to their new homes.”
Perhaps reading all of this, you have found that you are interested in adoption or would like to know more about greyhounds as pets. You can always call and/or visit your local greyhound adoption organization for further information. Most of the time, the adoption process involves filling out an application, followed by a background check, and a home visit with your matched greyhound. Through the home visit, families can get to know their prospective pup a little more and determine whether they are a good fit.
Since falling in love with greyhounds about five years ago, Greta has helped many dogs find their forever home, some of which she has adopted herself.
“Now, I have three greyhounds of my own. The last one is Cortez and he graduated the prison program in October 2016. He was not adopted at the time of his graduation, and while in training, his trainer found out he was blind. He touched mine and my husbands’ (who was at the graduation as well) hearts. we officially adopted him that weekend.”
Greta’s Cortez finished the prison training program with Carlos, a classmate, now known as Comet by his forever family. Coincidentally, Greta also fostered Comet. Comet is a retired racer from Derby Lane whose racing name was Next Addition. We will be continuing Comet’s story in our next adoption feature article on April 22nd, so stay tuned!
We would like to thank Greta Conroy, Linda Lyman, and Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions for speaking with us, as well as Catherine D’Arcy with D’Arcy Kennels for connecting us with these wonderful people. It is our pleasure to learn the experiences of greyhounds as they go from the farm, to the racetrack, and then on to retirement.
Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions works with many greyt kennels, owners, and trainers from Derby Lane, Sanford Orlando, Daytona Beach, and Palm Beach. They include: Capabal Kennel, D’Arcy Kennel, Jan Alderson, Randy Floyd, Victori Hounds, Cal Holland Kennel, occasionally Abernathy Kennel, Ed Bolton, Waverider Kennel, and Blu Too Kennel.