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Organization rescues greyounds

Linda Hiller

What would we do without the champions? Whether winning a race, or battling for another’s rights, champions are among us.

Today, you can see them teamed up in the Carson Valley Days parade when members of Nevada Greyhounds Unlimited, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding good homes for ex-racing greyhounds, will be prancing together.

This new entry in today’s parade is aimed at spotlighting the plight of thousands of American racing dogs that are annually discarded by dog racing, the sixthmost popular spectator sport in the U.S.

n Local foursome in parade. Among today’s parade entry will be longtime Gardnerville Ranchos resident Tammy Sugden and her husband Bill with Amanda and Misty, their two sleek greyhounds.

“I can’t tell you how fascinating these dogs are,” Tammy said. “I got started around two years ago after I had lost my 18-year-old Labrador – it took me a year to get over that. Then, one day I saw some greyhounds at the Minden Craft Fair and thought it might be interesting to get into this breed. I’ve been hooked ever since – they’re a wonderful, dog.”

Sugden adopted her first ex-racing greyhound, Amanda, through Nevada Greyhounds Unlimited and its founder Gay Holst, who lives in Silver Springs. The group sends dogs out to all of Northern Nevada, and there are several adoptive families in Minden and Gardnerville, Holst said.

Dogs available for adoption have typically raced for a few years and hit the ripe old age of 4 or 5. In the past, before adoptive agencies like NGU were common, these “retired” dogs met a fate of abandonment, transfer to the “last leg track” in Caliente, Mexico, or death. An estimated 20,000 dogs and puppies are destroyed annually, Holst said.

n Dead cockroach position? In Sugden’s house, her dogs laze with Holst’s in elegant poses with a contagious calmness.

“I have had a lot of different breeds of dogs in my life, but have never had one so loving as a greyhound,” Sugden said. “They bond so well with people – it’s like they never quit saying, ‘Thank you.'”

“We have a saying,” Holst said. “Greyhounds are like potato chips – you can never have just one.”

“I’m so proud of them – I never stop talking about them,” Sugden said.

Greyhounds have some body poses that seem to be peculiar to the breed, both owners agreed.

“They like to sleep on their backs for some reason,” Sugden said. “One time, on a hot day, we had what we call a ‘pack party’ here, and there were around eight dogs laying all over the house, some on their backs with their feet up the wall. It looked like a bunch of dead dogs.”

“We call that the ‘dead cockroach position,'” Holst said. “On their back, with legs straight up. They also do a sphinx pose.”

In spite of their racing heritage, running as fast as 45 mph, greyhounds are not driven to constantly run, Holst said.

“Actually, they would love to sleep around 20 hours a day,” she said. “We call that the ’45-mile-per-hour couch potato pose.’ Sometimes, I have to kick them outdoors just to make sure they’re still alive.”

“Greyhounds also love stuffed animals, and will hoard them,” Sugden said.

n Consider these factors. If you are interested in finding more about adopting a greyhound, or becoming a foster home for greyhounds in transition, there are a few things to consider:

n You must have a 4-foot fence around your yard.

n Because of their short hair and low body fat, temperature extremes are not tolerated by greyhounds – they need to be indoor pets with access to outdoors.

n Families with very small children aren’t recommended because it takes away from attention to the dog.

n Greyhounds need to be on a leash when away from home, since they are trained to chase from an early age. Greyhounds are in the “sight hound” category, and will often run after any small running animal, including cats or rabbits.

n They shed less than most breeds and are potentially more tolerated by people with allergies. Also, they rarely bark.

n Greyhounds come in 16 colors (gray is uncommon), weigh 50 to 85 pounds and stand 23 to 30 inches tall. They are an ancient domesticated species – dating back 8,000 years to the Egyptians and the Celts.

n Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog in the world and have a life span of around 14 years.

n Adoption can take around two weeks and costs $200, which covers all veterinary check-up costs, neutering, and $80 back to NGU.

For more information, call Holst at (775) 577-2414. You can also visit the Web site http://www.greyhoundgang.com