Photo by: Errol McGihon SUN

LYNDA SEED, co-founder of Adopt-A-Greyhound, cuddles Faze, a two-and-a-half-year-old greyhound who has left Florida's racetrack circuit for Canada.

              
Tip was once one of the greatest racers on the Florida circuit. Now, after four and a half years in the fast lane, the six-year-old greyhound has gone into retirement. "This is pretty much all he does now," owner Kristin Lejuene says, looking at the brown and black-mottled dog sprawled at her feet. "I suppose he's enjoying his retirement."

Unlike most of his retired human counterparts, Tip moved north of the border from Florida to enjoy a laid-back life in Ottawa. Lejeune adopted Tip from a North Gower agency that rescues racing greyhounds from Florida racetracks and places them in suitable homes.
  

‘It changes your life'

"Once you have a greyhound living under your roof, it changes your life," says Adopt-A-Greyhound co-founder Lynda Seed.

Seed and her husband Chris started finding homes for race dogs after adopting their own greyhound six years ago.

"We just wanted to see as many of these dogs get the chance to live a good life and enjoy their retirement as we could," she said.

While there are no greyhound racetracks in Canada, dog racing is still big in the U.S.
Adopt-A-Greyhound's dogs range from 18 months to five years old. Older dogs, like Tip, are successful racers who are past their prime. Younger dogs often never made it to the racetrack.

While there are no reliable numbers on how many greyhounds are released from American racetracks every year, many dogs aren't as lucky as Tip. "Unfortunately some are euthanized and, sadly, because of their timid nature, they're ideal for medical research," Seed says.

She says Adopt-A-Greyhound tries to distance itself from the ethics involved in greyhound racing and focuses on the well-being of the dogs it helps to find homes. "We're not activists. We try to maintain neutrality and not involve ourselves with the issue," Seed explains. "It is because of trainers that we get these dogs. They are the ones who decide to turn over the greyhounds instead of euthanizing them."

The Seeds examine the lifestyle and personalities of candidates before matching dogs with their new homes.

Life with a greyhound

Once the assessment process is over, new owners are still in for a few surprises. Race dogs, who are used to living in crates, have to learn the basics of the outside world.

"You have to teach them not to walk through windows, how to climb stairs, what a mirror is and how to walk on shiny surfaces," Seed explains, comparing a greyhound's move into the home a trip to Mars. "They're also quite sedate," she adds, describing the dogs as 40 mph couch potatoes.

Dog lovers who adopt from the non-profit organization can expect a $300 fee to cover adoption-related costs.

The agency's website is www.adopt-a-greyhound.com.