Our blog articles frequently discuss and take a look at greyhound racing, speaking with trainers, owners, track announcers, and others in the industry. Another big and important aspect of the greyhound racing industry is the amazing adoption groups involved in placing retired racers with their forever homes. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jenn Boswell, the director of adoption for Alabama Greyhound Adoption Center (AGAC) and wanted to share her experiences and wonderful information about AGAC with you.
Jenn Boswell’s first experience with greyhounds was as a child through her Godmother who owned racing greyhounds. She fell in love with them so much so that her first job in 1996 was a leadout at Birmingham Race Course. When it was time to head to college, she left the track but found that she couldn’t stay away from the greyhounds. In 2009, she became the assistant director of the AGAC and then the director of adoption in 2015.
“I fell in love with them and loved their gentle demeanor.”
From Nova Scotia, Canada, on the East Coast all the way to Portland, Oregon, on the West Coast, the AGAC works with several adoption groups totaling over 40. With the adoption groups spanning the US and Canada, large and long hauls of greyhounds are typical. During these trips, many breaks are taken to feed and walk the pups. While they sleep on the road, at least one person stays in the vehicle with the greyhounds as a precaution to make sure everything is well throughout the night. Each haul usually has 20 to 30 greyhounds, depending on how far they are traveling.
One of the things that makes the AGAC unique is that they have a box truck as their transportation vehicle that they converted to house the greyhounds during their hauls. The idea began with former Director of Adoption Melony Cleveland and Jenn. Trailers carrying greyhounds are made with precautions to ensure that the greyhounds are comfortable and safe during travel. Melanie and Jenn took it a step further thinking how great it would be if they had something like an RV for transporting the greyhounds because then they would know right away if anything was off with the pups area and someone could head back to check on them. That idea grew and came into fruition when they raised funds to convert a box truck into their vision. That box truck was named Eleanor. Some of the amazing features in Eleanor include a sleeping space of a queen bed for resting during travel, a sitting space for extra passengers, heavy insulation throughout the truck, kennels for the greyhounds to stay in, and an AC unit, box fans, and oscillating fans for the space to stay at the perfect temperature. They also replaced the rolling back door of the truck with a wall and regular door to help insulate the space. All of these features have made travel much easier for the drivers and greyhounds and have allowed all to be comfortable during extremely high and low temperatures.
At the AGAC, Jenn’s job can often be described as a hound traffic controller since she makes sure that all the adoption groups they work with can get some greyhounds in an appropriate time frame and in a specific rotation. Jenn also helps with local home placements of greyhounds and small pet testing to see whether a greyhound would be good in a home with a small dog or cat. The business aspect of her job is making sure that everything is running smoothly for all the greyhounds, her crew, and volunteers.
“We want to make sure that every greyhound has their chance at a couch.”
When asked what Jenn’s favorite thing about working at the AGAC is, she states that hands down it’s the dogs. Jenn was once told a quote by DQ Williams, “If you love it, you will never see yourself doing anything different.” That has rung very true for Jenn as she cannot imagine doing anything different than working with greyhounds. Jenn has found that as she takes care of the greyhounds, they seem to return the favor by taking care of her. It’s what made her fall in love with the breed and her job. Jenn has also been able to meet wonderful people through the greyhound racing adoption industry, some of which have become a family to her.
“Once you adopt a greyhound, you’ve been adopted into a family.”
With as many greyhounds as Jenn has placed in homes, estimating somewhere over 30,000 pups, it is hard to have a standout memory because there are so many. Two special moments did come to mind right away for Jenn, though. One case was with a greyhound named Ace. They had a family coming in with a paraplegic man who was unsure about adopting a greyhound because he thought they were too hyper. They decided to show him Ace who, as soon as he was let out of his crate, went straight to the man and gently rested his head on his lap. There was an instant connection between the two and the man looked at them and said that Ace was the one. Another instance was with Pat C My Biznes (Biz) who adored children. During a visit to a children’s hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, Biz would not leave one boy’s side. No amount of coaxing would take him away from the boy. When the child had to go back to his bed, Biz followed him to the elevator where the boy waved goodbye. Later, Jenn was told that the family was so grateful for Biz because they have that memory of their son happy and smiling with Biz, which occurred just a few hours before the boy passed away. It’s memories like these that make Jenn’s job so special.
Jenn’s greyhound adoption experiences have also taken place on the personal side with her owning many retired racers herself. One greyhound, CTW Snorklunicrn (Moose), was named by Jenn. Jenn got to meet Moose at just a couple hours old, following him from birth to his first race, to his last race, and then into retirement where he came home to live with her. Though all of her own greyhounds have a special place in her heart, there is something extra special about having the experience of knowing your greyhound from birth through retirement.
As National Adopt a Greyhound Month comes to an end, it is wonderful to speak with Jenn to hear about her personal stories with greyhound adoption and the details of the AGAC. If you are interested in adopting, fostering, or volunteering your time to greyhounds, contact your local greyhound pet adoption organization for more information.
We would like to thank Jenn Boswell for taking the time to speak with us and share her wonderful experiences working with greyhounds. The Alabama Greyhound Adoption Center is a 501 C 3 non profit greyhound adoption center located at the Birmingham Race Course. They are a pro-racing greyhound adoption group dedicated to the re-homing of retired Greyhounds who work with several fellow pro-racing and racing neutral greyhound adoption groups across the United States and Canada. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in it or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.