Rachael wanted a dog. I didn’t. We began discussed compromises. I suggested maybe a picture of a dog. She said no. I said maybe a child. She said no. I said how about a dog breed with fewer of the canine traits that bother me? Finally, we were getting somewhere.
In hindsight, my demands were both unreasonable and honestly a bit prissy. I didn’t want the dog to shed, because I hate having pet hair on my clothes and worried about it affected my mild asthma. I didn’t want it to jump on me, because that freaks me out. I didn’t want it to lick me, because I wash my hands like 100 times a day when they’re not covered in slobber. Just thinking of the phrase “dog kiss” sends a shiver down my spine. The less barking, the better.
At first, we considered a golden doodle. They don’t shed (and are often referred to as hypoallergenic, which seems like a funny label for anything other than a pillow), since they’re part poodle. And they’re smart and easily trained, since they’re part golden retriever.
But as we began scanning adoption sites and visiting the humane society, we realized that golden doodles were basically never available for adoption. They’re such good dogs, owners don’t often give them up. If we wanted one, we would probably need to get a puppy from a breeder. Two problems with that: One, these puppies can cost more than $1,000, and two, puppies suck.
If you ask me, adult dogs have too much in common with infant humans, mostly their inability to talk, which makes meeting their needs a constant guessing game. But a puppy would be infinitely worse. I couldn’t imagine covering our historic hardwood in newspapers while we tried to house-break a baby dog.
So we widened our search to other breeds. Maybe a standard poodle, which still wouldn’t shed. Rachael lobbied for some pathetic-looking mutts from various adoption groups, emailing me cute photos and trying to make me feel guilty. We came close to adopting one dog that had been rescued from the streets of East St. Louis, but shied away when we found out it needed expensive allergy medicine.
Eventually, after I heard a radio ad that mentioned the group, we ended up on the website for Rescued Racers. Immediately, the thought of adopting a retired greyhound appealed to me. I’m a sports guy, and while I’m unsure how to feel about the morality of dog racing, I was intrigued by the idea of owning a dog whose statistics I could quote. They’re beautiful dogs, with their long legs and majestic gaits. Plus, I figured I could take a greyhound running with me.
The more we read about them, the more we liked. Greyhounds have short hair and hardly shed. And they’re known as the “World’s Fastest Couch Potatoes,” because they love nothing more than to lie around and sleep all day. Generally speaking, they don’t jump or lick, bite or bark. Adult greyhounds coming off the track are basically house-broken, since they know not to go in their kennels, and they’re comfortable around people and other dogs (though many of them would love to eat your cat, which didn’t bother me at all). Greyhounds are known as “magnet dogs,” sticking close to their humans and sharing Rachael’s passion for cuddling.
The only big surprise was that greyhounds, who max out over 40 miles per hour, don’t have the stamina to go running long distances with humans, since they’re used to sprinting for a half-mile or so and then sleeping the rest of the day. Jogging even a 5K would require quite a bit of training, working our way up slowly.
We contacted Rescued Racers and made arrangements to meet three dogs who were available for adoption. More on that next time.