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Hi! Help On Deciding Whether I'm Suitable To Get A Greyhound?


Guest alistair_b
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Guest alistair_b

(This is quite long so I've tried to bullet-point as much of it as I can, and bolded key points!)

 

Over the past few weeks I've fallen absolutely in love with greyhounds, and I'm seriously considering getting one when I move into my own house in September. I've been dying to have a dog since I was a young kid, but as my parents both point-blank refused to get one, I satisfied myself with doing dog-walking/sitting for people in the local area. (My family have always had cats, too, so I'm used to having pets.)

 

The two main reasons I want a dog include:

  • Companionship and affection. I seriously miss having pets around whilst I'm at university, and I actually start to get very blue and sad if I go even a few weeks without any animals around. I want a dog in particular because a) I love dogs, duh, B) I want a pet I can cuddle with, go walking with, and play with, and c) I want a pet that's more involved than a rabbit/rat/hamster/cat/goldfish. I want a pet that will stick with me through the years and who is a central figure in my life.
  • Responsibility and stability. I genuinely want a pet that requires lots of attention and demands responsibility, who I know will be there for me and I can plan my life around having with me for the next ten years (fingers crossed!).

I do need some advice on whether to get one or not. I am admittedly a university student still (UK), and many people are advised against getting one at this time in their life due to the lack of stability/time/money.

 

However:

  • I'll be at home a lot. My second year at uni will require me to be on campus for less than three straight hours at any one time, and the rest of my time is spent studying/exercising/doing various household chores. Realistically, this will be the most flexible time in my life to be able to be at home for long periods of time and to adjust my schedule to suit a dog's needs. Because I'm doing a humanities degree, I have very few hours of contact time (~10hrs/week) and most of my work is done at home. Study breaks to cuddle/play with/walk a dog would be more than welcome.
  • I'll also have housemates so if, for whatever reason, I'm not around during the middle of the day to give my dog a fuss and let them out to pee. (I know for sure one of my housemates would be willing to do so as she loves dogs and has already said as much.)
  • I will also have my own house (with a decent size back garden) for the next two years, as my dad is buying a house and renting it to myself and a couple of my friends - so no worries about pet-friendly accommodation initially! I do understand that it might be an issue in the future, however, after my degree, but I would be willing to work around that and go for worse accommodation/pay more in order to have my dog with me.
  • I don't drink, party, or go clubbing. Whilst I do sometimes go out to the student union bar for a couple of hours late in the evening with a small group of friends, I remain teetotal and it certainly wouldn't be for very long. My housemates are also non-drinkers (or only occasional drinkers) and we've already agreed not to have alcohol or parties in the house.
  • I have the money, especially if I'm careful with my finances. I've done the calculations, and I can budget to have a minimum £600 free each year to take care of my dog. Again, not drinking etc all helps to save money, and if I need to take on extra hours at work to support my dog then I'm more than willing to do so. Plus, whilst I try to be financially independent from my parents, I know that if I were to become completely broke then they would step in as a safety net. In a few years I'll also have access to a decent-size inheritance from my deceased grandparents, which will hopefully ease some of the strain somewhat when it comes to buying a house etc.
  • I'm responsible. I'm disgustingly domestic and middle-aged for a 19yo guy, to the point that I'm constantly nicknamed the "dad" of my friends and people frequently come to me for advice. My average evening does genuinely consist of staying home, cooking, and studying! Responsibility is not an issue in the slightest - plus I've taken care of dogs for up to two weeks by myself before, when their owners have been away.
  • I'm a homebody and love routine. Within my own home, I can definitely offer a dog routine and stability; I like to have set times for sleeping, exercising, eating, studying etc and tend to get very stressed, exhausted and upset when I don't have a schedule to follow.
  • I'm an ex-long distance runner, so going out in bad weather doesn't bother me in the slightest. I still get up early (around 6am) to go running or walking to clear my head before the day starts, so adding a dog to this would be the simplest thing ever. (Note: I do know that greyhounds aren't long-distance dogs, and I would never expect to take a grey running!)
  • Any children I have in the future will have to be adopted, so there's no worry about a surprise baby meaning dog has to be booted! Similarly, I can't possibly imagine myself being in a relationship with anybody who doesn't love dogs and animals in general. Everybody I've ever dated has owned dogs, actually. :P

Essentially, regarding time and money, this point in my life would definitely be the best to get a dog. Trying to bond and settle in a new dog whilst training as a teacher or

 

On the downside:

  • I do go home for the holidays. My family have three cats, so my grey would need to be cat-friendly and introduced to them, plus kept separate from them at night - probably with me in my room, in all honesty. I'm pretty sure that working around the cats thing wouldn't be too big an issue, as we sometimes have friends who bring their (cat-friendly) dogs over and the cats tend to adjust quickly enough. What I am concerned about is that it might be too tough on my dog to expect them to adjust to swapping between two places - although that would mostly be during the first year, as in my final year I expect to spend more of my breaks still at university so I can work. However, if this would definitely be too much for a greyhound to handle, then the sensible thing to do would be to wait until I'm entirely done with living at my parents'.
  • My life stability is not the same as somebody with a permanent home and job. I'm settled for the duration of my degree, but after that - whilst I have a very good idea of what my plans are - I can't 100% guarantee anything beyond that any pet would remain a priority. Career-wise, I plan on becoming a teacher, although potentially going into the civil service instead or HR in a company. After my degree, I'll either be going into a 9-5 job or a PGCE (and then a teaching job), so there will definitely be routine - just a different one, where I'm home less!

With all that in mind, is adopting a greyhound a good idea? I'm not worried about the strain on myself, but I'm worried about whether I could offer a greyhound what they would need. Any advice would be really appreciated!

Edited by alistair_b
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Wow. You've done a lot of thinking about this, and it's commendable. Also, for me personally, it's nice to read something that is written so well.

 

Your Age: Some will say you're too young. I say age isn't usually a consideration. It's everything that often goes along with being young. In your case, I'm not reading negatives. You've thought long and hard about your university schedule and what you can do for back-up. There are quite a few young folk on here who are great dog parents.

 

Even after you graduate and become employed, you'll be able to figure out how to make it work. There are many many people on this forum who work and are gone 8 to 12 hours a day. IMO, that's a lot of hours to leave a dog alone, BUT it works for them and their dog(s) and that's what counts.

 

Cuddly/Playful: Some Greyhounds are not cuddly. Some are. Most like to get on a bed or a sofa with their human. In my situation, my girl Annie does not get on furniture and has never shown an interest in my bed. She does like me to get on the floor with her to rub her belly, scratch her neck and generally give her lots of lovin'. She's also a great leaner and will spend a lot of time just leaning against me, as long as I'm petting her.

 

Many, if not most, Greyhounds are not interactive players. That is, they don't fetch a ball tossed to them or "wrestle" around as a Lab or Golden Retriever might. Some do, of course. I know of dogs who have been taught to fetch and dogs who barely watch a ball fly by. Most Greyhounds like to do zoomies (run in a circle of some sort) and/or run around the backyard or other -- fenced in -- area. My Annie does not do zoomies. She has a terrific, fenced-in backyard which she uses exclusively for her potty place. She just doesn't run or zoom.

 

Going Home: This is not a problem and nothing to worry about, assuming you adopt a cat-friendly or very low-prey Greyhound. I don't know about Great Britain, but in the U.S., Greyhounds are often moved from racetrack to racetrack so they're used to not settling down. Forgetting this, though, a Greyhound isn't so special that s/he can't visit other people, whether it be for 2 days or 2 months. In the summer of 2013, I lived with my sister and BIL for four weeks while waiting to close on a new house. Annie was just fine. She quickly learned where I wanted her to P&P. She taught us where she most liked to walk. She knew who was a sucker for giving her treats. She knew who gave the best neck rubs. Greyhounds may have special needs, but honestly, they are just dogs, and I imagine you wouldn't think twice about taking another breed home.

 

Lots of Attention: This is where Greyhounds often differ from other breeds. They love attention but they don't often demand it as a Golden Retriever might. Your dog might barely lift her head from her bed when you return from class or she may eagerly run to you and jump around. During the first 6 to 8 months after I adopted Annie, she never left her bed when I walked in the door, no matter how long I had been gone. It was her way. ::shrug:: Over the years (I've had her 3-1/2 years), though, she has become a happy camper when mom walks in the door. She now greets me and her tail often even wags. LOL (My girl is not very demonstrative so I look for signs.) Their personalities, at least in the U.S., are such that they often have to learn how very special they are to this one human/family. Being one of 40 in a kennel means each dog gets less personal attention than being part of its own family.

 

They do need, though, to be around people. For instance, most do not like sleeping in a room away from their human(s). It's very common to have a new owner ask why their dog, who sleeps downstairs, is crying or whining at night. It's because from birth, they have never been alone and they are lonely.

 

Other Things: You mentioned you like to run. Do you want a dog who can run off leash with you? In the U.S., very few Greyhound owners let their dogs off leash. As a matter of fact, most adoption groups have a provision in their contract that an owner will never let their hound off the leash. I know other countries aren't as strict about this.

 

Keep watch here, you'll get a lot of good advice and suggestions. Good luck!

Edited by Feisty49
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Guest sireltonsmom

Wow - you sound to me like a wonderful candidate for a greyhound. All the bullet points would need to be told to the adoption group so they find you the right greyhound. There's lots of velcro greys who love to be close by you. Depending on what you want, many will share the couch with you. Lots of small dog/cat friendly greyhounds too. A muzzle when introducing the cats and dog and be watchful is prudent. You just need to copy your posting for when you talk to the people who'd do the adoption to you.You've already made contingency plans for when you aren't home for the dog to be walked and managed, so go for it! Read Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies and any other books you can get so you know what to expect before you adopt. I've had lots of breeds over the years, and loved them all, but the greyhounds are beyond lovable. Wish I could have more than 2! Good luck and keep us informed.

 

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Guest alistair_b

That's incredibly useful feedback, thank you! I was worried that I was missing something major, and the last thing I would want would be to fail to provide for my pet. :/ But the positive response has definitely helped to put my mind at rest. :)

 

@Feisty49: That's particularly useful to hear about the going home not being a huge issue, thanks. And as for the affection/attention aspect - I've grown up with cats and have dog-sat a range of personalities, so whilst I would prefer a more "velcro" personality, I'm quite content to just chill out with my dog as long as there's still that bond and affection. As for the running off-leash, all the dogs that I've taken running before have been leashed (they're not mine, so I always worry about recall) and I doubt I would ever let my dog off the leash unless in a secure environment. :) From what I can tell it's not UK law, but I would certainly do it due to traffic dangers in particular.

Edited by alistair_b
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Guest normaandburrell

Like everyone else, I feel you would be a great greyhound owner. The fact that greys tend to be more low energy and somewhat more aloof than most breeds means that they are more manageable for a lot of people than more active breeds. The one thing I would mention is that their personalities take a while to evolve once they are in your home. Our dogs were pretty timid when we first got them, but turned into fairly confident and affectionate pups over time.

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Wow! You have put in an incredible amount of thought. :) And got some great answers! The only point I will comment on is visiting with your greyhound. I find, in general, that these are extremely portable dogs. I visit and travel with my girl all the time and have done so from day 1. Some, of course, are not such good travelers (insert: car sick) or aren't very good at staying alone in a hotel room (insert: separation anxiety).

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My beautiful Summer - to her forever home May 1, 2010 Summer

Certified therapy dog team with St. John Ambulance

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I'll just comment on your roommates. When I do a pre-adoption visit our group requires that all the people in the home be present just to make sure everyone is onboard.

You've done your homework to understand greyhounds but they have not. Your job will be to educate them. Roommates and guests will need to be told to not leave doors open. If your yard is fenced make sure the gate is locked.

 

Wishing you well in your quest for a greyhound.

 

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Guest alistair_b

Have you looked at potential greys yet? I bet they have one that will perfectly fit your needs and wants... :lol:

 

I've had a look at the greys at my local retired greyhound trust and there are some wonderful dogs, but I don't want to get my heart set on one at this point when I can't even consider adopting until August at the earliest. :S I was thinking starting to have a serious and more specific look around June? Or should I get in contact with them earlier, so they can be on the lookout for a particularly good match?

I'll just comment on your roommates. When I do a pre-adoption visit our group requires that all the people in the home be present just to make sure everyone is onboard.

You've done your homework to understand greyhounds but they have not. Your job will be to educate them. Roommates and guests will need to be told to not leave doors open. If your yard is fenced make sure the gate is locked.

 

Wishing you well in your quest for a greyhound.

 

Ah, yes, that's something that hadn't occurred to me. One of my housemates has some experience with greyhounds as her cousins have one and she spends a lot of time there, but that's a very good point that I'll have to carefully educate the rest of them. Thank you!

 

(Also, just realised I can use the reply button rather than using @ all the time... Sorry!)

Edited by alistair_b
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Welcome to Greytalk, I'm also from the UK. Sounds like you could be a great greyhound owner.

 

I can tell you that £600 per year is going to be difficult to keep a greyhound on. I have 2 greyhounds & a lurcher. Per dog it costs me £16 per month for a good budget food & insurance is £35, £4 on chews/treats.wormers is £20 a year, vaccinations £35 & lots of other bits & bobs I buy & don't count up.

A Normal vet consult is £35 in my area but out of hours emergency or a specialist referall can be £75-£150+ just to be seen & any treatment/ meds on top & often this has to be paid at the time. Vet bills can get expensive quickly hence why I prefer to have some insurance but its not like other insurance that you can chop & change. It needs to be lifetime cover rather than time limited & once your dog has any ailments on vet records its difficult to switch insurers as they'll be excluded as pre-existing & often grouped, Pru had case of bad diarrhea before i decided to adopt her that hasn't reoccurred since but all bowel conditions are now excluded. Some insurers have recently left the market & others vets won't deal with as poor at paying up too, so have to choose wisely early on. Petplan is probably best & most widely accepted but isn't cheap.

 

In the UK groups vary on their views some don't want their dogs to spend any more than 4hrs alone tops, but even those that are fine with full-time workers will likely want the dog to be given opportunity to toilet every 4hrs (that was what RGT branch we went to was happy with). I would consider what happens post uni when your less likely to be able to nip home, could you afford a dogwalker if turns out your dog isn't ok left 8hrs straight daily, my female grey needs to go out to toilet about every 5-6hrs & my lurcher gets distressed being left for more than a few hours as is very people oriented.

 

What you could also look into is fostering as the rescues cover vet bills & often pay for food too. Its not always easy emotionally but your helping a dog into its new home while it enjoys home comforts & does save dogs lives as frees up space at the rescue to take more in. It may give you bit more flexibility while in uni.

Edited by moofie
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I can't address costs in the UK. But I am surprised that UK adoption groups generally recommend pee/poop breaks every 4 hours. While that's a certainly a desirable schedule, I think most healthy dogs can go 8-10 hrs regularly if they get suitable exercise and chances to really empty bowel and bladder at appropriate times. After all, most healthy dogs who stay indoors are expected to hold their urine that long every night. It's not natural for them, but they can adapt.

 

Don't rule out a greyhound as a running partner, at least for shorter-medium distances. An interested grey can be gradually conditioned.

 

While you emphasize being a homebody, having a dog may change this a little. :) A greyhound attracts a lot of attention, and you'll probably make friends with other dog lovers, meet up to go for walks, maybe volunteer with an adoption group ... .

Edited by EllenEveBaz

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That's just how it is with dog rescue's in the UK, quite a few choose not to home to people that work full-time at all probably because many dogs end up in rescue because people didn't have time for them or dog was noisy/destructive etc & there's a higher risk with returns for a rescue the longer a dog is left. Thankfully its not all rescues, but its just a cultural difference I guess about what's deemed acceptable.

 

I'm sure dogs are similar to humans in that at night the body alters need to urinate so it doesn't disturb sleep.

 

It does work for some dogs but i personally wouldn't like to leave my own dogs daily for 8hrs straight without a loo break, i've noticed over the years that my dogs only drink when I get home probably knowing that access to toilet is restricted, as they'll drink more frequently while I'm home.

Edited by moofie
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Guest agreytday

I just want to say kudos to you for taking the time to consider the pros and cons of greyhound ownership. The fact that you want to put the dogs needs above your own want of a dog is quite important, in my opinion.

 

Also, age is just a number. Maturity is what matters. You sound like a smart young man with a good head on his shoulders. As you are probably told frequently, you will be different at age 30 than age 20 - but when you are already mature at age 19, I think you are in a good position to be able to make these type of serious commitments.

 

I do agree that the health insurance is important if you are on a very fixed budget. I thought it was good that someone else brought it up as well. It can help with those unexpected expenses that may arise. Best of luck from across the pond!!!

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