When our beloved retired racing greyhound passed away a few years ago we always knew we'd be getting another one day. The question was when. Unlike throwing away the baby bottles and giving away the diaper covers, we quietly put away many (but not all) of Kieran's old things in anticipation. Now, we have reason to get them back out. We're getting a dog!
It's been a quick, odd journey to this weekend that started a few weeks ago with some wishful browsing of the adoption organization's website. We saw a big, pretty boy who we thought we may like and sent a quick e-mail to see if we could drop by to use a kennel visit to decide if we were "there yet" on the new dog front. There was some confusion because protocol had changed immensely in the decade since we adopted Kieran. Now, you must first submit an application and access to the dogs is limited to people who are seriously considering which dog to take home. Instead, we thought maybe we'd just go to a Meet and Greet where various dogs are at a local pet store to say hi and raise awareness of the breed. We piled in the car and went to the strip mall at the time someone was supposed to be there...nothing.
Ok, maybe this is the universe telling us to just fill out the application if we want to see a few dogs.
Having previous experience with greyhounds--and even babies with a greyhound--we were already familiar with their special needs and teaching our youngest good dog safety. The organization had previously placed a hound with us so it was mostly just a review of our circumstances...but we already have a vet, we already know what kind of walking schedule we'd use. Then we were told a great thing--there are currently more people wanting these beautiful dogs than there are available greyhounds. That's fantastic! I mean, keep in mind that one local organization has helped transport 4,600 dogs towards adoption groups in the last 5 years. We find greyhounds to be awesome so we're not surprised other people are feeling the same thing.
To our surprise, we got the contact that it was our turn to pick a dog. We'd communicated that we'd be out of town the first weekend in June so we were expecting to not have a kennel visit until later in the summer when more dogs came off the track. Not to mention that a shortage of available foster families complicates the window between selecting your dog and when you officially get the drop off from the rescue group. The dogs usually get some time to learn how to navigate stairs, see a house for the first time, and we were actually being asked to "self foster" possibly since we are greyhound veterans.
When we arrived at the kennel in Chicago (some dogs are housed as far away as Wisconsin), there were already a handful of families (everybody in the house must be present) taking "practice" walks around the block to meet adoptable dogs and see what kind of reaction both humans and dog have. There were brindle, tan, black, and white and the reception area was a tangle of leashes and muzzles.
The first dog we walked was an older, 5 year old black female named Tina who had a fairly decent racing career--our previous girl was a similar, majestic, successful older dog--and a more even temperament. She was tired from having walked around the block several times. She's also been around the longest in terms of trying to find a forever home. She was aloof and disinterested...which worked against her, I'm afraid. When we took her to a room to play, she immediately walked over to the back door where her crate was located and wanted to go lay down. She was sweet, but also clearly not going to be a barrel of fun.
Our next walk was with Magnolia. Oh what to say about Magnolia. She's a fawn/red young thing just barely 2 years old. And a miserable failure at racing having been dropped after just 6 races. Unusually for a greyhound, she's a happy, tail-wagging sweetie. On our walk, she smelled the sausages across the street and refused to turn around. Cords don't bother her under her feet where our old Kieran would have been sent the other direction. She happily comes when you call her over and boy does she play. She got the "zoomies" and ran all around the open kennel room mock charging us. She poked and got into a puppy-ish stance to wrestle with my loud, energetic, wiggly son. Clearly, she was not going to be bothered by children. She loves rubs and was fairly responsive to correction when she nearly went to the bathroom on the floor of the kennel. And, to add to her rescue bona fides, her original owner was--as far as I can research--the man who was previously suspended for 30 days and fined for the deaths of several greyhounds due to neglect and abuse. She's probably been through a lot.
But the adults wanted Tina. We have a home that would welcome her and she deserves a good home, too. In the end, Tina was no match for Magnolia though. Halfway through the outdoor walk, my daughter turned to me and said, "I like this one--can we take it home?" The unanimous and frequent cries of "Magnolia, we want Magnolia!" occupied the whole car ride home. And the feeling had been mutual from Magnolia towards us.
Magnolia would need a place to get rid of all that energy. Magnolia would need lots of training. Magnolia seems like a lot bigger unknown compared to chill, relaxed Tina. It's hard to convey all that to a 4 and 5 year old when they've fallen in love and are already plotting a welcome home party with cards and banners to celebrate the arrival of their new companion.
Yesterday we contacted the organizer and told her we'd made our choice. "Hashtag Magnolia" will be joining us sometime in June.