By Marcia Herman
We have visions of our Greyhounds following us around while we move from place to place, while working in our gardens, walking on the beach, or hiking in the woods. These are lovely fantasies that could be reality if the dog were a Lab or a Golden. It ain’t gonna happen if your loyal companion is a Greyhound – not unless you’re in a fenced area or your hound’s leash is securely in your hand.
The vision of a Greyhound loose on the beach reminds me of a time when cries of “Suzi’s loose! Suzi’s loose!” echoed across the beachfront in Dewey Beach, Delaware. Hundreds of Greyhound-owning people who were attending the annual “Greyhounds Reach the Beach” event scampered around looking for her, hoping to catch her. As everyone knows, a loose Greyhound is a Greyhound who likely has a date with injury or death sooner rather than later. In this case, everyone knew Suzi Waddell wasn’t in any danger. Suzi was seventeen at the time and was simply tottering around the beach, sniffing the seaweed with her owner at her heels. We were just having fun with Suzi.
On the other hand, here are a few examples of true, not-so-amusing scenarios that occur repeatedly; a couple of these events have happened to our own dogs over the years. Sometimes these loose dogs return home; sometime they don’t – not alive anyway. Even worse, some are never seen again.
Common Escape Scenarios
“Our foster dog escaped while someone was looking at him and considering adopting him.”
“My Greyhound is afraid of thunder. He panicked, jumped through a window and climbed the fence to get away from the storm.”
“Our 9 year-old Greyhound got out while chasing a cat (or squirrel, or rabbit, or bird, or you-name-it).”
“Our 4-year-old (or visitor) opened the front door and our Greyhound ran out onto the road.”
“Our two Greyhounds were in the back yard doing their business. When I went to bring them inside a few minutes later, they were both gone. The fence gate was open.”
“Our mailman rang the doorbell. When I cracked open the door to take the mail, our Greyhound pushed the door open and ran away. I didn’t realize that a Greyhound could get through a slightly-opened door that easily!”
“We were walking our dogs when a loose dog charged us. One of our hounds backed right out of his martingale collar – the “safe” kind – and ran away. We found him waiting for us at home a half-mile away. He knew the route home because we walk it every day. His paws were bloody from running on pavement, but he was OK otherwise. Phew!”
“We’ve always let her out to do her business; we live in the country, after all. She never left the yard before. This time, she ran into the neighbor’s driveway and was killed by a delivery truck.”
The list of escape scenarios is endless but not to worry.
Recognizing that “stuff happens” to even the most careful Greyhound owner, taking a few simple precautions will reduce the possibility of your Greyhound escaping to almost zero. The most common escape route is a door, gate, or window that’s slightly opened. Most escapes are made by newly-retired foster or recently-adopted Greyhounds. All these new retirees know is that an open door, window or gate is much the same as the starting gate at the track; they may think that opening means RUN! Fresh off-the-track Greyhounds know nothing about cars, highways, traffic, or even how to get back home if they are lucky enough to be unharmed. To them, “home” is the track kennel. Disoriented Greyhounds whose adoptive owners may not even know their kennel names run full speed to nowhere.
Sometimes Greyhounds who’ve been in homes for years will decide to run out the door, too. Although these Greyhounds will also be in danger from traffic, they will often know the way home if they’ve been walked or driven around the neighborhood.
Here are some suggestions for escape-proofing your Greyhound so he or she doesn’t become a member of the “Runaway’s Club.”
Escape-proofing While Outside
Escape-proofing While Inside
It sure sounds like Greyhounds aren’t much fun if one has to be so careful about them getting loose. But really, once the preliminary Greyhound escape-proofing is done and you’ve become accustomed to watching for open doors and gates and checking for properly fitted collars, you won’t even think about doing it; it will just become second nature to you. By taking a few precautions your Greyhound is highly unlikely to be hurt or lost and you won’t ever need to be separated from your fast friend. Last but not least, is a suggestion from one reader and that is to train your Greyhound to not bolt out the door. Greyhounds learn the stay, wait, come and other commands as easily as they learn anything else.
PWP NEWSLETTER, PINNED ON GREYTALK AMBER ALERT FORUM