Fear of a Grey Planet

One of the neat aspects of adopting a failed retired racing greyhound is that you become part of a community of grey owners. I’ve never been one for, well, belonging, so I’m surprised by how much I enjoy going to greyhound meet and greets and events like this past weekend’s Greyhound Planet Day picnic. The site was about an hour from our house, in Bridgewater, NJ.

(An hour unless you run into a monstrous accident, as we did on the way home, up Rt. 287. Let me tell you: when you’re on a 4-lane highway and the accident warning sign says that the far left and the far right lanes are closed, you know you’re in for a sight. In this case, a sedan was mushed up against a light pole in the left shoulder, to the point at which its spare tire was poking up out of its trunk. In the right shoulder, an SUV was flipped over, facing the wrong way, and partly flattened. Rufus was not happy with the delay, but he did his best.)

The picnic was a blast. Here are my disjointed impressions, but you may be better off checking out my slideshow and my wife’s slideshow.

To begin, I can’t even guess how many greys were on hand, but I’m going to guess it was far more than a hundred. An adoption area was set up for people to check out some available dogs, read their histories, and take them out for test drives. I stopped at the cage/crate of one of my faves from the website, Jumpin’ Jackson, who unfortunately has medical problems (seizures) but was adorable. And huge. I also checked out a bunch of the females, since we figure that, if we ever get a second grey to keep Rufus company, it won’t be a male (size, territorial issues).

In fact, my coworker/pal Jason and his wife adopted a pair of girls on Sunday; he showed up in my office Monday and asked, “You didn’t sleep the first night either, right?” Later it was, “How long did it take Rufus to go up and down the stairs on his own?” I warned him that the next 7-10 days may be pretty rough.

The first owners we met on Sunday — people frequently stop us to comment on how gorgeous Rufus is — filled us in on their dog, whom they adopted in June. He was on the track till he was nearly five years old, and ran in TWO-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-SIX races. Our boy, on the other hand, raced eight times before it was concluded that he was not cut out for that job. On the plus side, all the veteran racers we met were nicked up, scarred, or had other work-related deformities. So I take pride in my dog’s failure. One owner, whom we’d met previously at a meet-and-greet, told us that he was amazed by how perfect Rufus’ overall form is. He thought we were joking when we told him how terrible the boy’s racing record was.

Another neat aspect of greys is that they make virtually no noise. Except for the instances where people brought other breeds along — a few beagles and a labradoodle — the dogs really didn’t stir up at all. That said, there was a Group Roo. Watch this and try to imagine 40+ greys gathered together and getting incited to make this noise. Evidently, it’s a tradition at these events, but it’s pretty creepy.

As was The Group Photo, in which we were all herded together in the grass. It was like a grand march of very skinny soldiers. Once we were all gathered, our boy decided that he didn’t like facing the photographer and started turning around to check out the dogs behind him. We thought it would’ve been great for a group shot of 200 dogs’ faces, and 1 dog’s butt. We’ll see how the final version comes out.

We sort of took an adoptable dog on a test drive ourselves, but only because the organizers were very busy and one of the greys — Bizzy’s Barker — needed to go for a bathroom break. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how Rufus would deal with my walking a second dog alongside him. He didn’t care in the slightest. Neither did BB. They walked in opposite directions a couple of times, and they were pretty oblivious to one another’s presence. That’s a good sign, I think.

We had a good time making the acquaintances of other owners; it’s nice not to have to start a conversation answering, “What sort of dog is that?” I was also glad to be able to ask questions of some of the veterans. They affirmed my suspicions that it’s best to cut their food back a little during winter, since neither they nor we like going on walks in the cold. I also gleaned that most owners do not take they greys on twice-daily mile-plus walks, like I do.

Anyway, there’s a ton more to write about, but I have to get to work. Check out the slideshows (Amy’s and mine) for some pix that’ll make you start thinking about adopting one of these hounds. (If you’re in NJ, visit Greyhound Friends of NJ for more info on that.

Amy, Rufus and Bizzys Barker, Sept. 21, 2008
Amy, Rufus and Bizzy's Barker, Sept. 21, 2008

2 Replies to “Fear of a Grey Planet”

  1. Hey, that’s a coincidence! We’re looking at getting a companion for Ned too….Her name is Lizzy and she’s brindle with a white face…She’s about Ned’s age, so we figure they’re both past the age where they’ll be worried about world domination. We pick her up on Saturday to live with us on a foster basis. WIsh us luck!

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