While dog racing is on the decline in New Zealand, there are still plenty of retired greyhounds looking for a comfortable and quiet home. So what’s it really like to adopt a greyhound?
Popular parenting writer Emily Writes often waxes lyrical about her family’s adopted greyhound, lovingly named Twinkle Princess Taranga Star by her two sons. Twinkle appears in many of Emily’s social media posts, where the 30kg, golden brown hound seems to be always curled up and snoozing in the manner of a much smaller dog.
Twinkle is a success story for the family, fitting into their busy life and included in their widespread advocacy for many causes. To show their support for the many underdogs (in the literal sense of the word), they offered a home to one of New Zealand’s ex-racing greyhounds.
Most greyhounds retire from racing at around 3 or 4 years old and their expected lifespan is between 12 and 15 years.
Ask any greyhound owner and they will tell you the same: greyhounds make great pets. As they are trained to race in short bursts, they don’t require a lot of walking – around 20 minutes per day will suffice. They love to curl up and snooze and are often described as ‘couch potatoes’.
Most greyhounds retire from racing at around 3 or 4 years old and their expected lifespan is between 12 and 15 years. This provides a good amount of time for chilling out with the family, making a greyhound a good childhood dog. Their relaxed nature also makes them a great companion pet for an older person.
In New Zealand, greyhounds can be adopted from a number of charities, such as Kiwikiwihounds, Nightrave and Greyhounds as Pets. These organisations act like dating agencies, matching hounds with owners depending on their needs, preferences and home situation. Many ex-racing greyhounds have an easily-startled temperament, which may make them more suited to a home with older children and not too many other pets. Others will take kids and cats in their stride, settling into the family home with no problems.
Depending on individual personalities, these charities will endeavour to fit the needs of the dog with those of the family.
“He’s a total goofball, can be really playful, but also loves just sleeping on the sofa and cuddling up while we watch TV."
For Auckland greyhound owner Claire Bettjeman and her husband, it was the ‘couch potato’ reputation of greyhounds that attracted them to the breed. Claire contacted Greyhounds as Pets NZ and talked through the personality they were looking for.
“When we got to the kennels there was a bit of matchmaking magic, and we got introduced to Baelin. It was pretty much love at first sight, he seemed just the perfect temperament for us, so we took him straight home!” she says.
Settling Baelin in was a straightforward process for the couple, who had fostered some greyhounds previously. “The usual things that flummox them are the stairs, and loud unusual things like the TV and the vacuum cleaner,” says Claire. “It all depends on what they’ve been exposed to previously, and every hound is different. Luckily they love routine. Our boy has slotted into our lives so perfectly, he loves to sleep in, and just chills in the office all day if we’re at home.”
Claire describes Baelin as the perfect hang out buddy. “He’s a total goofball, can be really playful, but also loves just sleeping on the sofa and cuddling up while we watch TV. He comes everywhere with us, he’s been to vineyards, away to Air Bnbs, and to work, we just can’t imagine life without him!”
This is a common sentiment from greyhound owners, who receive so much love from these elegant, gentle giants.
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