I’ve been really excited to share this story, but our timeline got majorly up-ended by COVID-19! We finally welcomed our dog into our home at the beginning of the July, six months after we started the process. I’ll share a little bit about what the process of adopting a dog looked like and how we decided on a greyhound as our breed of choice.
Deciding on Adopting a Dog: We knew that once we bought a home that we’d want to adopt a dog. We waited until we got the home to decide what size breed, special needs and exercise levels we could accommodate. Our apartment was not pet-friendly and size-wise, it never would have worked. We got our home in the fall of 2019 and hoped that 2020 would be the year of the dog!
Selecting a Breed: This is a little controversial (I think) as it implies that you are opting for a purebred dog or working through a breeder versus adopting. I just want to come out and say that I am not implying that there is a wrong or right way to bring a dog into your family. I don’t know enough about all of this to make a vast reaching judgment call like that. But we did quite a bit of homework on our end to figure out what kind of breed might work well for us.
We had a number of must-have qualities and wish list qualities that we felt would best fit our lifestyle that we sought after in looking for a breed:
- Must-have: Since we both work, any pet we would adopt would need to be OK being alone for a large portion of the day. We are able to get home over lunch, but we didn’t want the separation for 8 hours a day to be an issue.
- Must-have: Again, on the work front, we do have time for two walks a day and some playtime, but we do not have time for more than about 90 minutes of play and walk time on a weekday. We needed a breed where that amount of playtime (90 minutes per day) was sufficient.
- Wish list: We were hoping to find a breed that has limited shedding. I understand that all dogs shed (duh, they have fur), but I knew from growing up with cats that my allergies flare up with animals that shed significantly. Minimal shedding (and good grooming practices) make it very manageable for me.
- Wish list: We were hoping to find a breed that was trainable and would respond well to obedience classes.
- Wish list: We have a fenced in backyard (great!) that backs up to four other neighbors – two of whom have dogs. As such, we were hoping to not have a dog that would be constantly barking at the other dogs because that’s just a great way to not be popular on the block.
- Wish list: We looked into what types of dogs are great for first time dog owners. I had never had a dog until now, and my husband had one as a child. We both knew that we might need an easier breed our first time adopting.
We read a LOT. Funnily enough, there are a ton of children’s books on figuring out the best dog breed for you. We found this excellent book that I can’t recommend highly enough:
We also took a number of online quizzes, such as the ones from IAMS (link), Pedigree (link), and the American Kennel Club (link). In typical Ally fashion (any of you who know me personally are going to be rolling your eyes here), I made a thorough spreadsheet cross-referencing the answers we got. We found that Bassett Hounds, most Terrier breeds, Australian Cattle Dogs and Greyhounds were our top matches. Unfortunately, Bassett Hounds and Terriers were also some of the most barky dogs. It proved more difficult than we thought to find an adoptable Australian Cattle Dog, but we found a Greyhound rescue in Wisconsin!
Before we committed further, we read some specific greyhound literature, specifically these two books:
They were both super informative about what to expect with the breed, training, diet, etc. The Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies book was so good I bought a copy for us to keep. It’s really well organized in a way that makes it easy to use for reference or a refresher. At this point we decided that we thought they greyhounds would fit our lifestyle and met our expectations that we could commit to as future pet owners.
Some of the big reasons why we thought a greyhound would fit well in our family:
- Contrary to what you might think, because they are trained to sprint, they don’t require significant amounts of exercise. Two walks a day and some playtime is more than enough for most grehounds.
- They are particularly easy to groom – their thin fur means they don’t need baths or haircuts frequently and while they do shed, it is minimal if you brush regularly.
- We already have a fenced in yard – a requirement for a greyhound.
- They do well in homes with just adults, although some do very well with children, too.
- They are generally not particularly jumpy, even with their large size. Between that and minimal barking, they seemed like a very chill breed.
I very much wanted to adopt a dog, and knowing that there is an effort to rehome greyhounds after they stop racing, I wanted to learn more. They used to euthanize dogs when they no longer were able to be raced, but as live dog racing has decreased there has been the ability to re-home thousands of dogs as they come off of tracks.
We started the adoption process in January with Greyhound Pets of America – Wisconsin Chapter (https://www.gpawisconsin.org/). The application and dog selection process involved a number of steps:
- January – $50 application submission
- February – Reference checks
- February – Home visit with a local greyhound owner (and their dog)
- End of May – (Delayed due to COVID-19) Kennel visit to pick out a dog
- June – Vet checks, surgery and vaccinations
- June – Foster stay with an experienced greyhound owner (that has another dog)
- July – Our dog came home to us! (And you pay the balance of the adoption fee)
After visiting with five dogs during our appointment at the kennel, our dog (race name So Why Not Emma? – they have really bizarre race names) responded super well to both of us and was the easiest for us to walk (no pulling on the leash). She had a very sweet and mellow energy and we just fell in love with her. We renamed her Paisley (Prince-inspired) and would wait four weeks before she came home to us.
More posts to come in the future on our experiences with buying items for our dog, traveling with her, her food and more.