A Greyhound Poem
I didn't really want you,
I wasn't really sure,
And I'll admit I had my doubts,
When you came through that door.
Not small, or cute, or fluffy,
With big, soft puppy eyes,
But tall, and thin, and bony,
With bald, pink, bulging thighs.
You weren't the kind I had in mind,
Not in any way,
Perhaps it would be better if I took you back today,
Before we know each other,
It really won't be kind,
To keep you here for one more day,
And then to change my mind.
But against my better judgment, I decide you could stay,
And quickly I discovered you were kind in every way,
Your gentleness and patience, they really stole the show,
Why these dogs are wonderful, I must let others know!
For you're my gentle giant,
Who just needed the chance,
To show us all what you could be,
To wipe away that history,
And dispel our preconceptions, which put us all to shame,
And so we come to know and love,
What lies beneath that frame.
And now I've come to understand,
What I missed right at the start,
That greyhounds need that big deep chest,
To house their generous heart.
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Family: sighthound, Southern (sighthound)
Date of Origin: ancient times
Original Function: coursing
Today's Function: racing, lure coursing, open-field coursing
Avg Size of male: Height: 27-30
Avg Size of Female: Height: 27-30 Weight: 60-65
One of the first types
of dogs selectively bred by humans was the sighthound: a dog that could run after and catch game by outrunning it. Greyhound-like
dogs have been depicted since ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman times. The name greyhound may come from Graius, meaning
"Greek," or from the Latin gradus, denoting "high grade." Greyhounds were used for coursing hare for sport, and during
the 1800s coursing became a consuming pastime of the upper class. Early American immigrants often brought greyhounds with
them to the New World, where they proved adept at coursing on the open plains. When coursing was made available to the masses
by staging it first in closed parks and then on tracks after a mechanical lure, the greyhound's fate was sealed. Track racing
proved so popular that dogs were bred specifically for short bursts of speed, ultimately resulting in the fastest breed of
dog. At the same time, greyhounds entered the show ring. The breed soon became divided into show and racing types, which were
seldom interbred. In America, the greyhound is one of the least popular breeds according to AKC registrations of show stock.
The National Greyhound Association registers many thousands of greyhounds annually; however, recently retired racers from
NGA stock have become popular as pets.
Known as "the world's fastest couch potato,"
the greyhound is quiet, calm and extremely well-mannered indoors. They are good with other dogs, and with other pets. They
are reserved with strangers, very sensitive and sometimes timid. Despite their independent nature, they are eager to please.
The greyhound needs daily
exercise, but it is a sprinter, not an endurance runner. Its needs can thus be met with a chance to run, or by a longer walk
on leash. It loves to run and chase outdoors, and can easily run into danger at great speed unless exercised in a safe area.
It is not generally amenable to living outdoors. Greyhounds relish creature comforts and must have soft bedding and warmth.
The coat is extremely easy to care for, needing only occasional brushing to remove dead hair.
Major concerns: none
concerns: esophageal achalasia (failure of a ring of muscle fibers to relax), gastric torsion, osteosarcoma (malignant
Life span: 10-13 years
Note: Racing injuries especially toe, hock and muscle injuries are common in
retired NGA dogs. Both NGA and AKC greyhounds are sensitive to anesthesia and are prone to lacerations and tail-tip injuries.
Form and Function
The ultimate running dog, the greyhound is built for speed. Its long legs
and arched back enable it to contract and stretch maximally while executing the double-suspension gallop. It has tremendous
muscle mass and light legs, further enhancing speed. The feet are long and narrow, giving maximum leverage. The long tail
serves as a rudder and brake when running at high speed. The coat is short and smooth. Two types of greyhounds are available:
AKC (show) and NGA (racing). Retired NGA greyhounds are smaller, sturdier and faster than show dogs and may be more inclined
to chase small animals.
This page was last published on Saturday, March 4, 2006.