In following the “Respect the Transition Time” on Canine Corners, here are some general guidelines of the next six months. Following your Going Home Protocol, and reaching out when you feel something ‘hinky’ are great cornerstones to building a sturdy foundation for a successful relationship with your retired racing greyhound. We want your ‘honeymoon’ period to set everyone up for success.
To start understanding more on what this transition is like for your newly retired racing greyhound, we borrow from the great Dennis McKeon, “The Handing Down”:
THE HANDING DOWN
It would be helpful if ever more adoption groups and their representatives stressed the importance of understanding the nurturing of greyhounds, as done by other greyhounds---the handing down.
This is the essence of the canine culture by which all performance greyhounds have been deeply informed and affected. It is highly unlikely that your adopted pet, prior to your having adopted him/her, was ever without the company of other greyhounds for even a few seconds.
The impacts of this pack-oriented and colonial culture upon the greyhound, are as indelible to them, as are the circumstances of our own upbringing, growth and development, within a family unit, a culture, and a segment of society.
So the experience of being adopted, and suddenly finding themselves without everyone and everything they have ever known--- the "lone wolf", for the first time in their lives--- is a form of culture shock, if not an outright trauma for some of them. Acting independently, outside the dynamic of the pack or colony, is a concept often novel or unfamiliar to them.
Much has been said and done, as it regards the adopters’ perception of “separation anxiety” and coping with it, should a newly adopted greyhound exhibit signs of stress when they are left alone. It is a wonder that we often fail to perceive the first instance of separation anxiety---that being, when the newly adopted greyhound is suddenly separated, or perhaps in his mind, expelled, from the colony to which he belonged--- only to be confronted with a virtual universe of novelty and uncertainty, much of which is beyond his understanding.
We will never fully appreciate or understand the greyhounds we adopt, unless we can begin to wrap minds around the unique experience they all share, as purpose-bred canines-- the effects of a nurturing canine culture, and the handing down of collective consciousness, which is predicated upon their coexistence within the pack or colony unit, and the social supports, securities and bonding opportunities it affords them.
And now, some pointers to help support - and not coddle - your newly adopted retired racing greyhound into the world from professional athlete to professional pet. Remember, these timeframes are generalizations. Some retired racers need additional support, some may not. If in doubt, or if you are experiencing some hinkys, please reach out. There are no dumb questions. We want everypaw to succeed in a happy transition.
The day has come!! Now we know how excited you are to show off and introduce your newly adopted greyhound to everyone and everybody and everything. But. Stop. Remember, this is an entire new pack that your greyhound has to learn, in an entirely new environment. Remember you retired greyhound has left a structured racing career, and then through a structured foster care program. Keeping a structured environment will help your retired racer settle, transition and flourish with you as their forever family.
Keep meeting people and other dogs to a (bare) minimum. There will be MANY days, weeks, months and years to come for meeting and greeting. Remember your ehome visit chat?
Avoid sitting there and staring, or trying to interact with your newly adopted greyhound ALL day. Like toddlers, they do need their nap time - and can get cranky without it. Follow your Going Home Protocol for crating and alone time training. And yes - this can start on day zero!
First Six Days
In addition to the above, your newly adopted greyhound may feel overwhelmed, scared and unsure about what is going on. Remember - SUPPORT over coddling. Avoid pressuring your newly adopted greyhound with ‘come here, come here, comeherecomeherecomeherecomeherecomeherecomehere’ or baby talk or “do you want to do this? Or this? Or that? How about this?’. Support them to seek out their space (is their crate easily accessible to them?) and support them by keeping with a schedule. Remember they are used to having a pack leader. Without having a leader, your newly adopted greyhound may start to test boundaries.
Do crate desensitization exercises to help your adopted greyhound generalize their new crate to their previous crates. This is also a great way to lay some relationship foundation with your newly adopted greyhound. They're looking for guidance from you, and to be honest, a reason to trust you.
Your newly adopted greyhound may not feel comfortable enough to lay down where you want them to. They may prefer to lay on the carpet or floor covering instead of the plush soft new bed(s) you purchased. They may also show little interest in food or water. Remember they have been fed in their crates since they arrived at track school. They are familiar with carpets from their racing days, both in their comfort and texture as opposed to something that is “too plush”.
Your newly adopted greyhound may appear to be ‘shut down’ and want to stay in their crate, or may not be interested in all the toys you purchased. Greyhounds have a resting long face - if they look unimpressed, that is their normal face. It’s their neutral face. They aren’t sad, or unhappy, or missing their packmates. They are just being normal.
Leave their leash on in the home so you can gain control over them if needed, and provide guided direction. This is much better than trying to grab at their collar.
Constructive walks on a contact leash on a martingale collar will strengthen your foundation, and provide sufficient mental, physical and emotional outlet for your greyhound.
In addition to the above, your adopted greyhound may start to settle into the routine and schedule of your home. Keep a feel out for those ‘hinky’ feelings - and reach out to seek support and guidance to ensure these hinkys do not manifest themselves into full blown behavioural issues. They may start to think they don’t need their crate - and they may be right. But remember - some greyhounds do love their crates, and taking it away from them can be detrimental.
Constructive walks on a contact leash on a martingale collar will continue to strengthen your foundation, and provide sufficient mental, physical and emotional outlet for your greyhound. You and your greyhound may not have a sufficient relationship to safely attend off-leash greyhound play dates. Remember - you are still building the foundation of learning each other out.
In addition to the above, your adopted greyhound may become fully comfortable in their new pack and your home. You may see a change in your relationship as your greyhound has built their trust with their forever family. And yes - with more settling, you may see some more testing of the boundaries.
The Coles Notes for The First Six Months
- Use your crate.
- Use your muzzle.
- Use constructive walks on a contact lead with a preoperly fitted martingale collar - NOT harness.
- Avoid greyhound off leash play dates.
- Reach out!!