I’ve always admired sighthounds – usually from a distance, though for six eventful months seventeen years ago we shared our home with a Basenji. Over the years I showed Samoyeds in England and Ireland, I’d see them at dog shows: pretty Salukies, imposing Irish Wolfhounds, elegant Borzois…
Last year, a dear friend of mine lost her Golden Retriever and was missing having a dog. I began to help her research what breed might suit her lifestyle and circumstances and I came to the conclusion that what she needed was a retired greyhound. I had known nothing at all about greyhounds before, but the internet is a wonderful thing. She was keen, but not all her family were on board with the idea. In the end she got a Cocker Spaniel puppy. What I got was a longing for a greyhound!
Earlier this year we lost Laurel, our elderly Samoyed, leaving us with just her daughter, Faith. Poor Faith, of course, has never been an only dog. She needed a friend. We live in New Zealand now, so it was time to contact GAP – Greyhounds as Pets.
Adopting a retired greyhound is fairly straightforward, and the people at GAP are lovely and helpful, but there are still a lot of boxes to be ticked: where would our greyhound sleep? (in the bedroom. Tick); what would we feed it?; what sort of bed would it have?; would we take out insurance?; how long might it be left alone in the day (hardly at all. Tick).
Our garden, which is sizeable, had to be thoroughly checked: fences secure and high enough, nothing likely to damage a dog doing a ‘zoomie’. We didn’t get the garden tick straightaway as there were two places where the wire fence, though high enough, was not very visible, and a speeding hound might run straight into it: a problem that was solved with several metres of shade cloth. We also removed a particularly prickly rose bush and two big succulents with spear-like tips. A greyhound’s thin skin and velvet pelt wouldn’t offer the same protection as a Samoyed’s thick double coat.
As well as Faith, we have Chenille, our elderly three-legged cat. Our greyhound would have to be cat-friendly, especially so as Chenille is white – the same colour as the lure!
Of course, not only did our potential hound have to have its cat tick, but our cat had to have her hound tick. Two greyhounds were brought along to our home for us to meet, and to see how the resident animals would react. Chenille, asleep on the window seat, opened one eye, looked up and seemed to say ‘you’re tall, aren’t you?’ before dozing off again in the sunshine. Faith said hello and then disappeared to round up her chickens as they were going all over the place. Yes, we have chickens!
And so, after a long conversation and going through lots of reading material, we were approved. We were on the list.
Now all we have to do is wait.