Retired greyhounds make amazing pets. These gentle, lazy, lovable dogs will rule your heart and your sofa in no time at all.
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We are Annemarie (Mama) and Karen (The Jellyfish), a couple of friends who have known each other since our school days in South Africa. We’re both total misfits who still haven’t decided what we want to be when we grow up.
We come and go, meeting up here and there, often sharing homes, cars, camper vans and, at the moment, a hound.
I (Karen) was always a cat person until I met my first retired racer.
I was in awe of this amazing creature. I stared at him all the way from Hebden Bridge, where we picked him up, to Denholme, where he was going to live.
I’d gone with a friend to collect him and I just couldn’t take my eyes off him (the hound, not my friend). It was like being in the presence of an Olympic athlete, albeit one with the oddest feet and ears I’d ever encountered.
Sadly, a little over a year later, my friend passed away and I inherited the very beautiful Radley.
Radley was in my life for just over three years, and in Annemarie’s for two. By the time he crossed the rainbow bridge we were both fully fledged members of the cult of Greyhound.
Oh yes, if you already share your home with an ex-racer then you know all about it. And if you plan to adopt, you soon will.
Nobody tells you this until it's too late. You don't just adopt a greyhound - you join a cult.
We hadn’t intended being owned by another pet so soon after losing Radley, but three weeks later we drove to Boston to pick up the absolutely gorgeous, and ever so slightly insane, Yogi Berra.
We just couldn't resist. A hound free house wasn't a home. Everywhere we went there were reminders of our boy.
Poo bins seemed to leap out at us. Public footpath signs silently called us to stop the car and go exploring. But nothing was the same without our boy.
We first met Yogi on the 28th September 2014. I'd contacted Kevin and Mandy at the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust. We wanted to join them on the Belton House walk and help with the kennel dogs.
Kevin said we were welcome to come along, but that they don’t normally bring kennel dogs on the walks as they get too excited. We were fine with that. Greyhound people are often owned by more than one hound so we were pretty sure we’d be able to nab a couple of ‘spares’ to help their mom or dad out.
It’s not easy picking up poo with only one houndie trying to drag you away from the scene, let alone two. And when they’re all trying to get to the front of the pack, well, you can just imagine.
As it happens LGT did bring us a kennel dog each to walk. They were the two longest stayers at the kennel, Andy and Yogi, and they had both been there for almost a year.
Andy shot out of the van, tongue lolling and ready for action. He was my boy for the day. We headed for the nearest tree where he proceeded to relieve himself and then he took me on a meet and greet.
He loved the greys but got super excited when he saw other breeds. He was a strong boy on the lead, but friendly and outgoing, and I was immediately in love. I turned around to see how Annemarie was getting on with Yogi and she was nowhere to be seen.
I was going to go looking for her when Andy met Chaz and decided to stop for a word or two. I had a chat with his humans. Chaz was a lovely old boy but sadly his time this side of the Bridge was short. When his mom told me that I almost had a meltdown.
It brought it home to me how close it was to us losing our Radley. I wondered if it was too soon to be surrounded by reminders. There were lovely black boys and girls everywhere, Chaz and Andy included.
I decided to look for Annemarie to see if she was having the same reservations. I found her sitting on the ground at the back of the van trying to coax a shy fawn boy out.
Just as I got there he made the leap, (with a little help from Mandy) and the first thing I noticed was his most beautiful face. It was pale fawn with a dark muzzle and black Cleopatra eye liner. His ears were pressed flat to his head and his tail was tucked firmly between his legs and lying tight up against his belly.
The second thing I noticed was his size. My first thought was that he was a greyhound cross, but crossed with what? A hippo? He was huge. Okay, maybe not huge, but he was a lot taller, and wider, than Radley.
Anyway, once he was out of the van he seemed to settle and he started to look more like a greyhound, rather than a horse. He walked beautifully and at one time I was holding both Yogi and Andy while Annemarie was taking photos.
By the end of the walk both boys were exhausted and they flopped down together on a blanket in the shade of the LGT awning.
I was exhausted too, but not from walking. Mine was a mental exhaustion from wrestling with the idea of taking on another hound so soon after losing Radley. I was in love with Andy and I wanted one, but I felt so much guilt about having another fur kid in Radley’s space.
I had a chat with Kevin after the walk and he said Yogi needed a quiet home with no cats, no other dogs, and no children. My mind began to tick over. At the time I was taking care of my grandmother and living in her house, how much quieter could you get?
I looked across at Annemarie with Yogi. They seemed to be getting on well and even Kevin pointed out that Yogi was doing well with her. He was a beautiful dog but I’d always thought, when the time was right, that I’d give a home to another black hound. They are often overlooked at kennels so I wanted to take one who was harder to home.
But Kevin told me how shy and retiring Yogi was, how he never came forward at the kennels, and how 90% of the people looking to re-home a Greyhound wouldn’t be suitable for Yogi’s special needs. I made up my mind there and then to speak to my grandmother and to Annemarie about offering Yogi a home.
It didn’t take much to persuade either of them, and the very next day we drove out to Boston to have another visit with Yogi. We were horrified to find that he didn’t seem to remember us. He cowered in the back of his kennel and trembled every time I reached out to him. I knew then that we were meant to give him a home and when Kevin offered to let us take him on a trial basis I couldn’t rearrange the car fast enough.
It would take a lot of love and patience, but I knew we could ease him out of his shell and give him the wonderful retirement he deserved.
To cut an already long story little shorter, our week long trial lasted three days before Kevin and Mandy came round with the paperwork to make it official.
A couple of weeks after we took Yogi home we heard the sad news that Chaz had crossed the Rainbow Bridge. This was upsetting but the good news is that Chaz’s humans gave Andy (now known as Alfie) a new home.
Yogi has come so far since those early days. You can follow his story here on Greyt Adventures.