The seed of an idea was planted back in 1997. Jeff and I had been conducting a long-distance relationship (He, in Boston, Massachusetts, and I, in Northwestern Missouri.) We had decided to end this long-distance nonsense, and I made preparations to move out to Boston to be with him. I'd gotten rid of most of my worldly goods, as I didn't have much anyway, and much of what I had just duplicated something that was already up in the apartment in Boston. We were out at my aunt's house for a family send-off, and Jeff and I showed up a little early. I remember that we opened the front door to enter the house, and a huge river of whippets streamed down the hall towards us, leaping over one another, cavorting, rejoicing that new people had come. (My aunt bred whippets.) Behind the wild pack of whippets, walked two greyhounds, quiet, self-assured, patiently waiting for us to give them some attention.
We both kept getting drawn to those two greyhounds, as much fun as playing with the lively whippets was. My aunt explained that they were rescues, and that was the first that I had ever heard of rescuing greyhounds from the racetrack. That information got filed. Since we were in no position to even consider getting a dog at the time, neither of us even stopped to think about whether we would do a greyhound rescue ourselves.
Fast-forward through our years in Boston, our wedding, a move to Pittsburgh, several years of apartment living, to finally getting our own home. Many of you have read the story of how we got our cats, so you know that we adopted all three of them within a week of moving in. A dog, we put on hold. Jeff was the first one to mention that he wouldn't mind having a greyhound, when the time came, and I agreed that it would be awesome. We both could just picture a greyhound walking down our hallway. I started to do a little research, and unfortunately was immediately dissuaded by someone saying that greyhounds were not capable of peaceful coexistence with cats. I didn't read any more about them. Disheartened, I shared the information with Jeff, and we regretfully decided that having a greyhound was just not for us. Even though this might have been the time to start researching other breeds, I just didn't have the heart for it. I figured that I'd get around to it eventually.
I was back in Kansas City, visiting family one Easter, and my aunt dropped in to visit at my parents' house. She brought one of her greyhounds with her. As I was petting him and paying him much attention, I mentioned my concerns about greyhounds and cats to her. She quickly reassured me that not all greyhounds were incapable of living with cats - that some didn't have much natural prey drive, and could be taught to leave them alone. A spark of hope!
I went home, and Jeff and I started researching in earnest. Cat safe greyhounds did exist! We found three different rescue groups in the general Pittsburgh area, and decided that we would give Steel City Greyhounds a try. We went to a Petco Meet & Greet right before Christmas two years ago, and interrogated the two volunteers there for a solid hour, while petting and fussing over their two greyhound "ambassadogs" the entire time. We were convinced.
We went back home, and right after the New Year holidays, I submitted our application to adopt a greyhound. They called me the very next day for a phone interview, and must have liked what they heard, because we were invited to drop in that weekend to meet a big red fawn male that they had, named Willie.
And from there, we were gonners. They led a great big, skinny dog out to meet us. He looked at me with his enormous brown deer eyes and wagged his tail at me uncertainly, and in that one moment frozen forever in my memory, stole my heart. It didn't hurt that we brought him home for a "test run" and he didn't even seem to realize that our cats existed. He sniffed EVERYTHING in the house, except for the cats. They'd hiss and follow him around, and he just never even looked at them.
The typical adopter seems to bring the dog back and then goes home to think about it for a couple of days, or to at least prepare. We couldn't do that... we took him back, but only to sign the adoption paperwork and to hand over the adoption fee. We didn't have bowls, bedding, a crate, anything... so took him on his very first outing to Petco that very day and outfitted him with the basics.
And as you all know, Willie became Argos.
|Argos, still at track weight, about a month after we adopted him.|
Could we have been happy with another breed of dog? A happy, grinning pit bull? A peppy, energetic Jack Russell? A protective and gorgeous German Shephard? A big mixed breed of indeterminate lineage? Absolutely. We're animal-lovers, and would have loved whichever breed that we adopted. But I'm so glad that we got to know greyhounds. I love them. And not just ours - the breed is one that simply delights me. Their elegance. Their reserve (though it should be said that greyhounds, like everyone else, are individuals. Some are more reserved than others!) Their beauty. And yes, I'll admit it, their strong desire to sleep on the couch all day. The fact that yes, they do need exercise, but not hours and hours of it. The fact that they are largely quiet.
I love my dogs. I cannot imagine a time that we will not decide to have a greyhound. I've made plenty of mistakes in my life, but adopting greyhounds is NOT one of them.