You may be wondering what I’ve been doing to pass the time lately. The first answer is work. The second answer is continued work on my thesis. The third answer is that I am officially obsessed.
I cannot say that I have ever really had a full-fledged obsession before, now that I actually think about it. I have really liked and or wanted things before, but never have I felt some sort of compulsion toward action that has been a daily consideration. Now, however, I have one (as you will see by what promises to be an extremely long post).
I am obsessed with the thought of adopting a retired greyhound. Not necessarily a widespread obsession, I realize. However, since visiting Dubuque with the man’s family and seeing the racetrack at the casino where we had lunch, I can’t seem to get the idea out of my mind.
It isn’t that I necessarily am disgusted by the concept of dog racing. I understand that it is a sport that doesn’t intend for dogs to be mistreated or harmed. These dogs are bred to run, built to run, love to run. However, they are sprinters and only run in very short bursts and then often spend the rest of their time in crates. After they’ve reached their retirement age or are no longer able to run up to the demands of their “profession,” they are either sent to an adoption center or sometimes euthanized.
The part of the racing industry that I despise is the treatment of these dogs as commodities. They are not “pets.” They are professional athletes, but without all the bling and casual sex. They are trained to race and not given attention that would interfere with that training. When they are washed up, they don’t retire and buy a few car dealerships or restaurant franchises like many professional athletes do, they are left homeless and without purpose. Agencies have been around for decades that seek to find these retired racers new homes where they can live out their retirement with a “family.” In my research of greyhounds and greyhound racing, I’ve been in contact with an area chapter of the GPA (Greyhound Pets of America) and have had the opportunity to speak with foster “parents” and “parents” of some of these dogs, and have even met a couple of these retired dogs (shout out to Pirate Pete and Queenie).
These interactions with the GPA and the dogs have further cemented in my mind that this type of dog would be good for us, and we would also be benefiting a cause and helping an animal that needs us. If you have read about our cats and how we came to “find” them (or how they came to find us, rather), you know that we are suckers for animals that need homes.
I don't just want another dog because of a desire to help animals. I have a feeling that something positive can come out of us adding to the family. Jammer is fully the man's dog. I have the cats, but they could ultimately take or leave us and let's face it, they're cats and can't be companions outside the house. I want a dog that is my dog, that will bond with me and that I'll be able to take on walks. (Note: Jammer hates going on walks where a leash is required, and thus our "walks" take place around the yard.) That is a selfish reason, but I don't care. Unselfishly, I do think that the addition of another dog to the household would be helpful in treating Jammer’s separation anxiety while we are at work (even though I have reservations about how she'll react).
We've talked about different breeds of dogs for a couple years and what type of dog we'd like. After mulling over options, we had decided to go with a rescue dog or a dog from the shelter. Personally, I’ve always had an affinity toward hounds. I grew up with a bluetick hound (Chance) and a redbone hound (Hondo) and have been in love with all types of hounds for years. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why a number of the hunting breeds would not work for me or my lifestyle. I thought the greyhound would be another breed of dog to add to that category until I conducted more research. The breed is not hyperactive and is often referred to as the 40 mile per hour couch potato. This means that while the dogs are super-fast, they prefer to lounge and can sleep up to 18 hours per day. They shed very little and can be left alone while their people are at work without problem. Many of them have no problem with cats and/or other dogs. They love to go on leashed walks (and have already been leash-trained during their racing days). All in all, this is a breed that would definitely work with our lifestyle.
The man hasn’t come with me to visit the dogs or to speak with the agency. This is not because he doesn’t support the idea of adoption, but rather he knows that he would fall in love with the idea and that we are not yet prepared to take the next step (applying for adoption). I, too, understand that we aren’t ready for this and that it may be quite some time before we can take that next step.
One of my major concerns (that no amount of research can put to rest) is that Jammer (our Australian Shepherd) would be the reason why we could not bring another dog into the family. She is going on 9 years old and is not a fan of us bringing other dogs into the house, even for a visit. She enjoys the company of other dogs outside of our home, but is quite territorial about dogs invading what she considers to be her space. With her aggressive behavior toward other dogs in those situations, I’m not sure a home visit (which is a required phase of the adoption process) would be successful. It may end up that we can help to mellow Jammer out via spaying, but if that doesn’t work we may have to wait until she’s no longer with us to adopt a greyhound. This could be between 3 and 8 years, given the life expectancy of Australian Shepherds. (It saddens me to even think about not having her around and even to type the words 'life expectancy.')
To make this long post even longer, I’m not sure that this is going to be a short-term goal, but I’m doing everything I can to make sure that it is a possibility.
The best-case scenario would play out as follows: I’ve become very solid in my belief that the roommate will be moving out next summer. If this were to occur, we would have more space in the house and could ultimately have enough room to have an additional dog. In addition, we wouldn’t have to worry about him being a dickbag about a new pet. Secondly, if Jammer calms down after we get her spayed, the concern about her reaction would be alleviated. Given the first two things happening according to plan, we would make a few modifications around the house (like the addition of a fenced in area of the yard) and then begin the adoption process.
I’ve not come into this obsession in a fly-by-night fashion. I’ve been reading books and doing research on the greyhound breed and have read about what to expect from adopting a retired racing greyhound. Two more books on this subject are on reserve at the library and I plan to read them over the weekend. I’ve spoken with other people who've adopted greyhounds about the good, bad, and ugly parts of adopting. I’ve mulled this over for over 4 months and have still come to the conclusion that this is a good step for us.
In what has seemed like a dismal and depressing few months in terms of my career and an overall feeling of fatigue in regard to my social life, this interest in greyhounds has kind of pulled me out of my funk and has given me something to look forward to. I am not holding my breath, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.