By Karin Krisher
Greyhounds are the coolest. Let’s be clear: I’m not saying they’re the best breed, because what’s best for one person might not be best for another, because all breeds have their attributes, and because all dogs are dogs. I would never discriminate!
But in my experience with Greyhounds, I’ve learned that they’re really cool. Make-a-joke-and-everybody-laughs cool. Wear-crazy-patterns-and-people-think-it’s-a-trend cool. So when I had a chance to speak with Thea Churchill Robson at Northern Greyhound Adoptions in Saint Albans, Vermont, I was thrilled to learn more.
We heard about NGA through Pet Naturals Graphic Designer Sean Cater, who adopted his amazing dog Shark-Face from the shelter 2 years ago. She’s sweet, strange and funny, and, like the majority of the 35-45 dogs at NGA, she’s a former racer.
Racing Greyhounds are brought to the shelter either by their owners or by organizations that coordinate the racetrack-to-adoption process, says Thea. Whenever there’s extra room in the shelter, those organizations get a call; sometimes they even have a retiree already ready and waiting for the move!
At NGA, Greyhounds get new homes based on the person’s application and the actual meet and greet process. Unlike many other groups, the dogs are not assigned to a family, but instead chosen, says Thea. That allows both animal and human to walk away from NGA knowing they’ve met the one for them, instead of just one of many.
But walk away is a loose term. Thea says, “We are committed to giving our adopters post-adoption support for any questions regarding behavior, health or anything else. Helping the adoption be successful is as important as placement itself.”
NGA is also committed to the community. Not only is every penny donated (including those for veterinary care, rental space, food, bedding, etc.) and every moment volunteered, but the Greyhounds volunteer, too!
Says Thea, “There is a group of volunteers from a local college that (takes the Greyhounds to visit senior homes) for us. We let them know which of the vetted Greys are proper for doing this, and they arrange the visits themselves. Greyhounds are the perfect dog for doing visiting therapy work: they are tall enough that no one has to reach down to pet them, they are gentle enough that even those who are wary of larger dogs may not be spooked by them, and their coats are thin and short enough.”
For the Greys, who are so good-natured, it’s hard to say what part of volunteering they love most. But for Thea, it’s the moments when a family and a dog know each other’s hearts immediately, and the intake days when she gets to “tuck the new arrivals into their new kennel with soft bedding and a toy of their own, all the while kissing their noses and scratching their ears,” she says. “That there is worth everything.”
Thea says if there’s anything else we need to know about Greyhound adoption, it’s that you “can’t say enough good things about having retired racers in your life; they are loving, loyal, and oh-so-smart!” She warns us, though, that an adopter could get in over his head—one is not enough. “Once in your heart, they’ll stay there.”
If you’re interested in adopting a pup from or volunteering with NGA, visit their website to learn more. Thanks to Thea and her team for all the great information!