In PetTalk’s November 2012 issue, we playfully use the pop culture buzz about the phonon book 50 Shades of Grey to shine a spotlight on local Greyhound rescue. Enjoy the full version of the interview below (the abbreviated version can be found in our print publication or digital magazine along with great photography by Prudence Allwein and the cool car from Audi West Houston!). Answers provided by Pat Freytag of Greyhound Pets of America – Houston.

HPT: Tell us about GPA Houston.

GPA: We are the Houston chapter of GPA and our chartered mission is to find responsible, loving homes for retired racing greyhounds, to acquaint the public with the desirability of greyhounds as pets and to inform them of the availability of greyhounds for adoption. Except for two part-time kennel employees, we are an all-volunteer organization with over 500 members in the Houston metropolitan area.

HPT: Are the greyhounds in your program primarily retired racing dogs?

GPA: The majority of greyhounds coming into our adoption program are received directly from excellent breeders, trainers, or owners of racing greyhounds once the racing career of the greyhound is over.

We are primarily an adoption agency rather than a “rescue” organization.

HPT: About how many dogs are you fostering in the program at any given time?

GPA: GPAH has 30-35 greyhounds in its adoption program at any one time, which includes our kennel dogs, foster dogs, and permanent fosters.  As a non-profit agency, we are extremely fortunate to have kennel space donated to us by Best Friends Pet Care, so we usually have 16-20 greyhounds at the kennel itself.

HPT: What type of fundraisers and adoption events is GPA involved in?

GPA: Part of our mission is to educate the public on the suitability and availability of greyhounds as pets and to inform the public on what excellent, loving pets these noble dogs make. Many of our members set up Meet-n-Greets as well as honor requests for local public events such as Bring Your Dog to Work Day at The Houston Rockets, Down Syndrome Association of Houston’s 23rd Annual Gathering of Friends, St. Patrick’s Day Parade and other educational programs.

Each greyhound that comes into our adoption program undergoes a medical evaluation, is spayed or neutered, has a dental cleaning, is tested for heartworm, internal parasites and tick-borne diseases.

In an effort to raise money for the medical care of our greyhounds, we have several fundraising events during the year.  Thus far in 2012, we have had a fundraising night in partnership with the Houston Aeros, a huge Garage Sale at Trader’s Village, published our own 2013 Calendar, organized a Golf Tournament, sold limited edition T-shirts, and held an online auction.

HPT: Give us a quick rundown on the characteristics of greyhounds for those that may be thinking of adopting. (temperament, training, etc.)

GPA: Retired racing greyhounds are generally quiet, sweet, gentle, and sensitive. Greyhounds have been bred to be fast, healthy, intelligent, sociable, and good tempered. They spend most of their lives in the company of other greyhounds, their trainers, and handlers. Their intelligence and breed make them greyt house pets as they are clean, quiet, and a loving companion.

Greyhounds, unlike other dogs, have never lived in a home. Their world has been limited to the kennel setting where they have seen only their trainers and caretakers. They need socializing with children, babies, and small pets. Some dogs adjust to the outside world very quickly, while others take more time.

There is a great misconception that greyhounds are high energy dogs that require a lot of space in a home.  In fact, greyhounds sleep about 18 hours a day, are low energy dogs that are extremely gentle and calm. They actually make good apartment dogs.

Greyhound Facts:

1. Greyhounds are more sensitive to chemicals and anesthesia than other canine breeds and have different blood values.  Adopters should have a greyhound savvy vet.

2. The generally accepted average lifespan for a greyhound is 11 to 14 years.

3. Greyhounds, in general, are healthy dogs and do not suffer from many of the debilitating illnesses that often afflict many large breeds.  Greyhounds are bred for strength and athletic ability, not to conform to an accepted breed standard.

4. Greyhounds, like many dogs, are fine with gentle, considerate children who are respectful of animals and who are well supervised by responsible parents.  Our chapter is of the very few greyhound adoption organizations that will even consider adopting to families with very small children.

5. A greyhound should never be off lead unless in a fully enclosed area.  These dogs are sighthounds; and, if they see a squirrel 100 yards away, they will most likely chase and be gone.  They can reach speeds up to 45mph in three strides.

6.  We require every adopter to commit to keep his or her greyhound as an indoor dog.  Due to their thin coats and lack of body fat, greyhounds cannot stand temperature extremes.

7. While many greyhounds can live in harmony with inside cats, no greyhound is safe with an outside cat.

8. When adopted, greyhounds are usually at what is known as “racing weight”. Most will reach “pet weight” within a month after adoption. It is recommended that a greyhound eat 3 ½ – 5 cups of kibble of premium, high quality dog food a day and be fed twice daily.

How many shades of do Greyhounds come in?

Many people believe that greyhounds are called greyhounds because they are grey.  In fact, a grey greyhound, generally known as a blue greyhound, is very rare (see table in the online version).  The American Greyhound Track Operators (AGTO) lists 18 official colors of greyhounds.  However, data was collected in 2001 from two separate tracks, which reported that in fact there are 62 color variations.