GTPulse: Williamsburg Woman Helps Retired Greyhounds Find Homes
When I was a kid, I loved seeing greyhounds. Their long, lean physiques and delicate legs made me think of runners and ballerinas. Greyhounds don’t live a typical dog’s life, oftentimes the first few years of their lives are spent racing. They can run up to 45 miles per hour and because they’re the fastest dog breed there’s big business in greyhound racing. But where do non-racing greyhounds end up? A greyhound typically only races for two to five years and some aren’t cut out for racing at all, so they’re often put up for adoption after they’re retired. There are greyhound rescues all over the United States that take on the retired greyhounds seeking new forever homes, and here in northern Michigan we have compassionate locals that are helping that cause through Greyhound Retirement Adoption Care and Education, or G.R.A.C.E.
Phyllis Minor lives in a sweet home on a farm in Williamsburg, Michigan with her two greyhounds. She greeted me with a warm smile that made her eyes crinkle, homemade banana bread and a fresh pot of coffee. Her dogs, Ella and Lex, greeted me with their noses and skeptical curiosity.
“They’re always so excited when we have visitors!” Phyllis said as she gently pulled the pair away from me.
The two dogs looked at me with big sparkly eyes dotted on perfectly symmetrical, triangle shaped faces. The tall and supermodel-like dogs are lovely to look at, but Phyllis hasn’t always been a greyhound owner. She became interested in the breed after the passing of a beloved german shepherd of hers.
“I used to raise german shepherds for a long time and it’s been almost five years ago, my older female had to be put down and I didn’t have a dog. I was out here on the farm, I didn’t know what to do. I went looking to adopt.”
Phyllis scoured northern Michigan humane societies for german shepherds to no avail. On top of not finding any german shepherds up for adoption, her landlord did not want a “bully breed” dog living in the home. Phyllis has raised horses throughout her life and spent time finding homes for horses who no longer raced.
“I had a friend who said, ‘did you ever think about greyhounds?’ So she sent me this website, G.R.A.C.E., I went on there and thought…oh my word are they ever beautiful! So I filled out an app.”
There’s a process for becoming a greyhound parent which includes filling out an application and having someone from the non-profit come do a home visit. The greyhound that Phyllis initially wanted was not the one she ended up with. House visits are meant to see how a greyhound would adapt to the home. Factors like other pets and their attitude towards the greyhound are taken into consideration.
“Every dog is different. When they came to my house for a house visit, I had picked out one dog. It was a beautiful female brindle, and Nancy brought me two, the other one was Ella. She was here for about three hours with both dogs. The one dog that I thought I would really like barked and growled at everything. Ella came in like she already lived here.”
Greyhounds are raised around their siblings until they’re a year to a year and a half old, so many of them are not independent natured, however Ella breaks that stereotype and had no problem being a part of the dynamic duo that is her and Phyllis. The happy pair worked well together and inspired Phyllis to get involved with greyhounds on a deeper level. Nancy Mickey, the woman from G.R.A.C.E who brought Ella into Phyllis’s life helped her make the transition from a proud greyhound owner, to a volunteer.
“I like to get involved in things and Nancy said they’re always looking for people to foster and so, I tried it.”
Phyllis began fostering greyhounds five months after she got Ella. Ella treats the fosters passing through kindly, but she really connected to Lex, an older greyhound that Phyllis brought home to foster.
“She’s always nice to the fosters but there was just something about Lex, so I adopted her, too!”
The G.R.A.C.E. chapter in northern Michigan is a dedicated and loving troupe of greyhound owners and advocates. Dogs are adopted from all over the U.S. and some of the local volunteers have driven cross country to rescue a greyhound. They do community outreach through setting up a booth at local events where they have information on greyhounds, the adoption process and photos of the dogs available. They also often bring their own dogs to events. The owners have bonded with greyhounds through owning and adopting, as well as with each other.
“We call it our cult,” Phyllis laughed. “We’re trying to grow the group up here more. I’ve been on the radio, TV, we do meet and greets. The more we promote them the better.”
More and more race tracks throughout the U.S. are starting to close which means more greyhounds are coming up for adoption. Despite the stereotype that greyhounds are hyperactive and need to expel boundless amounts of energy, they’re actually happy being cozy at home and are even affectionately referred to as 45 mph couch potatoes.
If you’re in the market for a new four-legged friend, don’t count out greyhounds. They’re docile and beautiful creatures who deserve love and a family even after their racing days are over, and if a greyhound isn’t an option just yet, G.R.A.C.E. is always seeking foster homes and volunteers.
“We just want to find them some good homes in northern Michigan.”