From the Director: What Will Your Couch Look Like in 10 Years?

Are you lucky enough to have a retired racing Greyhound (or two or three!) lounging on your couch? We are! Nearly a decade ago we were inducted into the cult of the Greyhound by Johnny Jazz, formerly of Seabrook Park in New Hampshire.


This year John will turn 12 and he's slowed down quite a bit--of course he was always pretty slow. John only ran three races before being retired. But what John may have lacked as an athlete he more than made up for as a companion, confidant, foot warmer, and couch potato. I could rest assured that the couch would never float away with John on the job.

But there are days when I have to face the fact that one day John won't be here to hold down my couch. His sister Heidi was adopted a year later but is actually older (and a much better racer in her day). There will come a day when they will leave me. I have been lucky over the years to foster many Greyhounds and what I have seen as a foster parent makes me fear for that day. Because what I have seen . . . is fewer Greyhounds.

When you look at the numbers, the reason why is clear. Ten years ago there were 49 tracks in 15 states. Today there are 21 tracks in 7 states. There will never be another Johnny Jazz from Seabrook Park because -- not only was John an absolute original--there is no more Seabrook Park.

In 2004, there were 26,262 racing Greyhounds born in the US; in 2012 there were 10,157. This month, a bill to remove the racing requirement from gambling establishments in Florida came within hours of being submitted for a vote. Why does this matter? Well, the income from racing has dropped just as much as the number of tracks--but casinos in Florida are required to run live races to stay open. And 12 of the remaining 21 tracks in the U.S. are in Florida.

So here's the scary question . . . what will your couch look like in 10 years? 15?

Hmmm . . . I hear poodles are nice. Not your cup of tea? Yeah, not mine either.

Here's an even scarier question . . . what will your weekends look like in 10 years? No Greyhounds needing transport, baths, and pedicures before they meet adopters. No applicants to screen, no new foster dogs to help learn about stairs and sliding glass doors.

Don't worry. SHUG has a plan.

The network that Greyhound rescues have built across this country is truly awesome. It may not be perfect but it is robust and active. It is full of crazy people who will drive 14 hours each way to pick up dogs. And it needs a new mission.

Here's my prediction . . . In the not too distant future, there will come a time of great upheaval in Greyhound racing. Many tracks will close in a short period of time and we will all be scrambling. We will rally and make phone calls and drive through the night and have way too many dogs in our houses at times, but in the end we will make it work. And then, for the most part, there will be no more racing Greyhounds.

That is my prediction . . . and here is my plea: Don't let the network die. We have all put too much of our blood, sweat, and tears--not to mention mileage and countless weekends--into building this network to rescue fast, skinny dogs. It doesn’t have to go away when there are still fast, skinny dogs who need our help. Dogs who look and act a whole lot like retired racing Greyhounds. And this year there will be 50,000 of them killed. And they won't be humanely euthanized by licensed veterinarians.

Many groups are already widening their umbrellas to protect the Spanish Greyhounds. But many more have decided to turn their backs. There are various arguments. Some say that helping dogs from Spain isn't in their charter. SHUG says, change your charter. Some say, we didn't create the problem so why should we fix it? SHUG says, we didn't create the racing Greyhound problem, that never stopped us. Some say, the Spanish Greyhound is a Spanish problem and we're not Spanish. SHUG says, the Spanish Greyhound is a GREYHOUND problem and we are GREYHOUND PEOPLE.

Some say, there are so many dogs that need help in this country, why would we help dogs overseas? SHUG says, if we were helping the neediest and closest dogs we'd all be rescuing pit bulls. We help the dogs that call to our hearts. We'd like to invite all the Greyhound groups out there to find out more. And to everyone attending Greyhounds in Gettysburg this week -- stop by our booth and meet some Spanish Greyhounds in person. We think these dogs will call to your hearts, too.

Of course, there's always Fifi . . .

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11 thoughts on “From the Director: What Will Your Couch Look Like in 10 Years?
  1. I am so saddened to read that there are actually rescue organizations that do not believe rescuing the Galgo and other Greyhounds overseas, is important. I pray to all the gods that not only does this network NOT die but more and more Galgos and lurchers are rescued. Yes, there are 100s of thousands of dogs here but the sighthound groups are so small and there is so much brutality. One day when my situation is better, I would love to be a foster for Galgos and for all sighthounds. For me, there IS NO other breed. Thank you SHUG for all that you do! You are a wonderful organization and maybe with this type of letter others will be willing to pick up the torch and even create other sighthound rescue organizations. I love the SHUG FB page and again, THANK YOU for all that you do and all that you give!!!

  2. There are also a huge number of lurchers and that might be around a lot longer. Lurchers are mostly greyhounds with a little bit of coonhound or some other hunting dog in them. They are used for “underground” racing and field trials. They are every bit as nice as greyhounds – rescuing lurchers is just another reason to keep the network alive.

  3. Hey! Fifi needs love, too. Guess that’s why I have everything from sighthounds to chihuahuas to strange mixes of several sorts, including a poodle mix. Perhaps my heart needs to learn a little self-control.

  4. While I’m glad that greyhound racing is on its way out, there will never (at least in MY lifetime) be a shortage of dogs to help out, skinny or bulky. It’s in the rescuer’s heart to rescue. Thank goodness!

  5. All dogs, no matter what breed, need love. While we all have preferences, we cannot forget the thousands of dogs of any breed and mixes that are out there dying on the streets and in rescues.

    When racing tracks all close and there are no more greyhounds, that will be a good thing! No more racing and breeder abuse. It will mean a wrong has finally been righted. In 10-15 years, there still will be a dog on your couch, as there will always be a need for comfy couches to dogs who have known nothing but the streets, shelters, or the abuse of humans.

    I have an American Pit Bull Terrier mix and a Greyhound mix. I have the best of all worlds, and they are both certified therapy dogs. I wouldn’t change a thing. But, when these two have left my couch for the Rainbow Bridge, I won’t lament about their breeds and what do I do now. When the time is right, I will open up my home and heart to another shelter dog or two. THEY are the ones who need us.

  6. In fact, this post, while moving and touching….it made me feel as if the author is upset that there will no longer be anymore Greyhounds because tracks may close. That is a good thing!

    I also got the vibe from the post that no other dog is worthy of help and of the author’s couch.

    I do hope that I am reading the “tone” of the article wrong. It kind of angered me a bit.

  7. I’d like to know why it’s assumed that ending greyhound racing will mean the end of greyhounds. Have bulldogs disappeared since bull-baiting and bear-baiting were outlawed? Are dachshunds still only bred for hunting badgers? How many Labrador Retrievers actually do any useful retrieving?

  8. Totally agree with you Angie. If greyhound racing finally comes to an end, although there will no doubt be people still breeding them ( even though not for racing ) the shortage of greyhounds needing saving, will leave room for other unwanted breeds to be saved, because of greyhound racing and all the industries ‘ surplus to requirements ‘ greyhounds, these hounds are adding to the never ending amount of unwanted dogs who need saving