Adopted greyhounds prove to be wonderful, though lazy, pets

Greyhounds can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour. That’s 7.5 mph faster than Secretariat ran the Kentucky Derby. Greyhounds are among the oldest breed of dogs on Earth. Drawings of dogs that resemble modern-day greyhounds have been found in 8,000-year-old Egyptian tombs. A greyhound is mentioned in the Old Testament book of Proverbs.

Dog-racing enthusiasts may argue otherwise, but a fair number of dog lovers will also tell you that, racing greyhounds at least, are among the most abused canines. They will tell you a racing greyhound leads a miserable life, often locked in cages barely big enough to allow them to stand for up to 20 hours a day, and fed food and given massive doses of steroids.

That treatment such as that has been inflicted on some dogs there is little doubt. Undercover video produced by a greyhound rescue group last year showed what appeared to be abusive practices at a Tucson dog racing track. To date no charges have been filed.

Racing opponents claim thousands of dogs are killed every year, euthanized when their racing careers end, often while still young dogs.

Abusive practices may be the exception, but there’s little doubt that dog racing is on the decline in the United States. Colorado, for example, which at one time sported several dog racing tracks, now has none.

Maine, Virginia, Vermont, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire have all outlawed dog racing in recent years.

These things are important around yours truly’s household because we happen to be the owners of a retired racing greyhound. To think our dog, Cordee — a name she came with and whose explanation is too long for this space —  could get up a 45 mph head of steam is hard for us to fathom. Unless, that is, she was headed for one of her two beds. (The second dog bed is really supposed to be for the other dog in the house, but Cordee has commandeered both of them.) For the fact of the matter is that greyhounds are quite naturally couch potatoes of the first order.

So today, Cordee leads the life of Riley (pun intended, Riley being the name of our other dog), happily moving at her leisure from one dog bed to another, eating nothing but the best dog food City Market can supply, wandering over to one of her two masters whenever the mood strikes to be petted, and happily moving socks or any other item left on the floor to her favorite place to store things — the middle of the living room floor.

We don’t know what kind of life Cordee led before we got her four years ago. It may have been as brutal as the conditions uncovered in Tucson. It may not have been. It was certainly a more demanding and austere existence than she has now. She was hand-shy for many months after we got her, leading us to believe she’d been abused. She had no idea how to play. That’s common among racing greyhounds. They never were allowed to be puppies. She’s figured it out now and it’s comical to watch a 70-pound grown dog try to act like a puppy.

Whatever she suffered during her 3 1/2-year-run as a racing dog, she’s making up for it now. I doubt she knows there can be no better fate for a dog than to have Kathy Herzog as its master.

Cordee came with a sensitive stomach. There are times when she’d rather not eat — at least not the expensive dog food we give her. On those days my wife can be found cooking rice for the dog. If that doesn’t work it’s spoon-fed Jell-O.

Nothing is too good for the dogs around the Herzog household. If my wife could figure out how to adopt every at-risk greyhound, or any other breed, for that matter, I’m sure she would.

But she can’t. Thus this column, just to let you know there are plenty of dogs out there looking for good homes.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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