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Greyhounds Living in Harmony with other Pets

Sunday 20th February is Love Your Pet Day. Started in 2013 to show further appreciation for pets, Love Your Pet Day will be observed worldwide on 20th February 2022.

To celebrate this special day, the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG) asked Greyhound owners who also have other kinds of pets to share their stories with us. What we were told was both heartwarming and inspiring.

While hundreds of Greyhounds cohabit harmoniously with other breeds of dog, including small ones such as Chihuahuas, CPG also heard from many people about Greyhounds living happily with other species, especially cats.

Greyhound Charlie with Beans the cat (left); Greyhound Anubis with Sid the cat (right)

Not all greyhounds will be comfortable with cats, although some adopt a peaceful ‘live-and-let-live’ arrangement with them, like Charlie from Tasmania has, with a very timid cat called Beans. 

Other Greyhounds, like Anubis, also from Tasmania, develop close, even playful, relationships with cats. Anubis loves playing chasings in the hall with Henry the cat, or lying around having his ears cleaned by another cat called Sid.

Frankie from NSW is a ‘long dog’ who loves all animals including cats, rabbits and a lorikeet. 

Greyhound Frankie and his bunny friend eating the grass together
His owner said she once left him with a kitten nestled into his belly. Later when she called him, Frankie didn’t come. She found him still lying with the kitten, reluctant to move while the kitten was still cuddled up with him.

Frankie’s fellow Greyhounds, Toby and Sadie also live happily with the same household menagerie and they’re not alone in living in harmony with birds such as chickens and cockatiels.

Toby hangs out with a lorikeet on the couch (left); Frankie loves a bunny cuddle (right)

Roxy, an ACT Greyhound, once shared his bed with Hedwig, a Southern Boobook Owl. Hedwig had been hit by a car and was being attacked by magpies when Roxy’s owner rescued her.

During Hedwig’s convalescence, Roxy’s owner discovered the owl was an escape artist and would roost on the curtains or in Roxy’s bed. If Roxy was in bed when Hedwig landed in it, the Greyhound happily got out of bed to let the owl take ownership. Hedwig made a full recovery under a vet’s guidance and has been returned to the wild. Happily, Roxy now has her bed back. 

Greyhound Roxy with Hedwig, the Southern Boobook Owl 

ACT greyhound Patty Cakes lives with a cat, six chickens and a guinea pig. Patty Cakes’ owner said she went out one day and accidentally left the chickens in the backyard. When she came home, Patty Cakes was asleep in the chicken coop and the chickens were fine.

Theodore happily lies in bed with Morris
CPG also heard of several Greyhounds who have developed close bonds with guinea pigs. NSW greyhound Theodore lives with Morris the guinea pig. 

Despite the fact that Theodore has run 69 races in the past, he never chases Morris. The two of them love lazing about together on beds or lounges, while Morris occasionally nibbles Theodore’s toes.

Greyhound Jayda, also from NSW, loves to romp around in the grass with Toffee the guinea pig. Jayda even tolerates Toffee jumping on her and biting her. Meanwhile, Shay de Grey from NSW is happy to share her space with pet rats!

It is remarkable that Greyhounds adapt to living with many different pets, considering that during their time in the racing industry they are not socialised with other animals. There, the only creatures they are likely to encounter are small ones, such as rats scurrying through their cages, or slightly larger ones like rabbits, cats and possums which are used as live baits.

Unfortunately, a small number of ex-racing greyhounds will always have a troubled relationship with other animals, while some learn to accept other animals after some re-training. However, many require no training at all, peacefully engaging with animals they have never encountered before (but always check carefully with the rescue group from which you adopt your greyhound about its behaviour).

The reason for this is difficult to determine. It may be due to their easy-going personalities or it may be they have an innate understanding of what humans expect from them.

Many owners – even those who have owned dogs of other breeds – say Greyhounds have a special affinity with humans. They firmly believe Greyhounds understand and sympathise with human emotions. Furthermore, despite brutal treatment in the racing industry, rescued Greyhounds show remarkable resilience and an ability to forgive, which may be further evidence of their strong bond with humans.

All this is perfectly understandable from an historical perspective. Greyhounds are one of few dog breeds raised for thousands of years as companions to humans. 

From the time they were revered by the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, until more recently when they were the darlings of English nobility for several centuries, they have lived and worked alongside humans.

Meanwhile, the Greyhound racing industry has only been around for approximately one hundred years. 

While it’s true greyhounds have an athletic build and enjoy an occasional run, it’s doubtful they have the stamina or temperament for the brutality of intense racing and training. Consequently, thousands of racing dogs are injured, discarded or killed annually. Those lucky enough to survive, emerge frightened, confused and/or dysfunctional at the end of their racing careers.

Fortunately, most Greyhounds are able to shake off their hang-ups from racing once they are taken into loving homes. In fact, the speed with which they morph into contented, lazy couch potatoes, belies the claim of the racing industry – that Greyhounds are born to race.

One pet Greyhound owner believes many people feel a ‘duty-of-care’ to Greyhounds who have been systematically damaged by humans. It’s a sentiment apparently not embraced by those in the racing industry, who make a token effort to re-home the dogs they don’t want

Instead, many more Greyhounds are rehomed by charitable organisations and individual volunteers. Both groups work tirelessly with negligible financial help from the racing industry or governments.

Owners of pet Greyhounds also told CPG that living with Greyhounds is a lot of fun. They describe Greyhounds as ‘quirky’ or ‘goofy’ and say they typically do zany things for no apparent reason, such as spontaneous pirouetting or zooming around with, or without, squeaky toys.

Surely, the rightful place for any greyhound is on a comfortable couch in a loving home.

Greyhound Frankie chillaxing on the couch whilst a lorrikeet is pecking his bum!

written by Sue Skelsey, CPG volunteer, January 2022 for Australian Dog Lover 

About Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds

CPG is a dedicated group of people across Australia who work together to inform the public about the cruelties of Greyhound racing – FacebookWebsiteInstagrammedia coverage.

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