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Welcome to our news blog! Here you can access the latest information about what our organization is doing, information about greyhounds, photos, events, pertinent articles, and fun items that we think you will enjoy. Check back often as we are always posting new information.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rainbow Bridge - Likable (Casey)

June 8, 2005 - July 22, 2012

We are sad to report the loss of another FFGR, Inc. hound to lymphoma.  We had all been following Trish's posts about her beloved Casey.  After a short illness, Casey went on to the Rainbow Bridge.  We all know that it was very difficult for Jeff, Trish and the kids to say goodbye. No matter how much we all prepare for the inevitable, it still breaks our hearts to say goodbye. Casey got to the place that she no longer would eat and it was clear that she was tired and had enough. Trish and Jeff did the most loving thing and let her go.

We remember when Trish brought her hound Joey over to meet available dogs and how Casey stole her heart (and Joey's!).   We told Trish that the best part of doing this work is meeting and knowing people who adopt a hound and make it part of the family. Although Trish and her family are broken hearted at this time, we can all take solace in the fact that Casey had the most loving home that any greyhound could have. She will be greatly missed, not only by her family, but all of her FFGR, Inc. friends and family who met her through her many meet and greet events. I always loved going to Trish's house and was so happy to be greeted by the hounds. Casey was the most exhuberant of the trio and always had a bounce and kiss for me.

She was a beautiful tall girl with the most pleasing personality. We think it was because she was so happy. Rest in peace lovely girl knowing that you were greatly loved.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Training and Behavior - Separation Anxiety

The following is a reprint of an article that was published in our Hound Happenings newsletter (December 2006 issue).  We focus so much on separation anxiety when we place a greyhound in a home, that we have not had any greyhounds returned for separation anxiety in over six years.  We know that education and training in the beginning makes all the difference in how well a dog does in a new home.  All potential adopters get training in separation anxiety and how to avoid it:

There’s an old expression that goes, “Knowledge is bouncing all over the place; it’s just not hitting many targets.” With all of the books, television programs, and internet resources available, it is amazing that most dogs are returned to dog rescue groups and humane societies these days because they are suffering from separation anxiety.

People have little tolerance for a dog that tears up the furniture, soils the rugs, and chews up the window frames. But it is not because the dog is angry or resentful that it owners have left it behind. This type of thinking is referred to as “mind theory” where the human projects his or her own emotions onto a dog that is incapable of those emotions. Dogs are not resentful, angry, nor do they want to “get back” at their owners for going away. What is going on in the dog’s mind is plain old anxiety. A dog has to be taught that when you leave, you will be coming back.

Some dog experts believe that separation anxiety occurs in dogs that are not given enough human attention and interaction during their period of learning. Others also think that to some extent genetics plays a factor. It actually may be a combination of those factors.

Because greyhounds have lived structured lives and some have had limited amounts of interaction with their trainers and handlers when they are young, when they get into a home with lots of attention, they bond tightly to their adopters. When your dog spends too much time with you and then is suddenly left alone, it may act out. A dog has no way of knowing that you will be coming back. You must make the effort to help your dog adjust to life without you as well as with you.

Separation anxiety may develop in a greyhound that has been in a home for long time without any problems. In most of these cases, when research is conducted to determine why, there has been a change of routine, a stressful family situation, relationship change, illness, or other cause that places stress on the dog. It can even be caused by behaviors in the owner that foster dependency.

Greyhounds are very sensitive and they detect changes in the lives of the people they love. If you are home all of the time with your greyhound and then get a job and go off to work, your greyhound will be suddenly left alone without your company for hours. Some greyhounds may just go to sleep and be fine while others will try to climb out windows to get to their owners.

If you have an older dog that has been fine for years and suddenly behaves negatively when you leave,
you should have your dog checked for medical problems. Dogs search out their owners when they
are not feeling well and sometimes the behavior may be mistaken for separation anxiety.

Signs of separation anxiety include:

Barking or howling at the door when you leave;

Escape behavior such as chewing door frames, window blinds, breaking windows;

Urinating and defecating in the house (The dog is besides itself with anxiety);

Excessive licking (lick granuloma) and self-mutilation (extreme cases).

If you can remember that your dog is literally stressed out at your absence, you can help avoid or overcome separation anxiety if it starts. We as humans want to be wanted, liked and needed. Imagine that your dog loves you so much that he/she cannot bear to be without you. Then you can take the right steps to help your dog.

First, be patient. Very patient. Start slow. Use lots of praise and positive reinforcement to reduce the panic level of your dog. You must be consistent. Start off by not looking at or talking to your dog prior to leaving the house and when coming back in.  You can start off by leaving for five to ten minutes at a time. Do not make any effort to play with your dog, talk to him/her, or give him/her any reason to become anxious over your actions. When you are home, pick up your car keys and jangle them. Pick up your umbrella, jacket, etc. then put them all back down and walk way or sit down (not looking at the dog). Do this often and for many days. You will be desensitizing your dog to the cues that makes it anxious. Soon your dog will no
longer associate those activities as signs that you are leaving.

You can open and close your door often during the day. That is another way of teaching the dog that an
open door doesn’t mean that you are going away. You can extend this training by stepping outside
once in awhile for a few minutes and walking back in. Keep extending the time from a few minutes to
an hour, etc. Go away for short periods of time first and when you see that your dog has dealt with your
absence well, extend the times that you are away. When you do leave, ignore your dog. When you
come home, ignore your dog. If your dog jumps around and barks, just ignore him/her and go about
your business for a while. Only after things have settled down should you speak to your dog.

You can also use positive reinforcement to make your coming and going more pleasurable and
rewarding. Use knucklebones, a peanut-butter filled Kong, bully sticks, etc. to distract your dog
when you leave. If you have a dog that likes those kinds of food-oriented items you have the
advantage. Keep lots of these treats around for when you go away. Keeping your dog busy while
you are gone is a good thing!!

Some vets recommend that dogs that suffer from separation anxiety should be fed a low-protein dog
food. There is no need for a high-energy dog food if your dog is going to be restricted in a crate or
house for longer periods of time. Remember to check with your vet before changing your dog’s

Don’t rule out exercise. A tired dog is not going to get into as much trouble as a wired dog. A long
walk can benefit you as well as your dog and some time in the back yard playing can be a great way to
give your dog the attention he/she needs. If you are not using a crate, try using one. Some dogs actually feel safe and secure in a crate. If you have some objection to a crate, at least set it up and give the dog the option of using it. Leave the door open. Remember, the ancestors of the dogs dug dens for shelter. Greyhounds have lived in crates at the track and most are very comfortable in them.

If all else fails and your hound is not making any progress in spite of all you’ve tried to do, there are
medications that you can give your dog (from your vet), but they should be used only as a last resort.
Medications just take care of the symptoms and do nothing to help the dog in the long run. The money
may be better spent to consult an animal behavior specialist.

If you want to learn more about separation anxiety, The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell, is a book that guides you through peaceful methods of training and relating to your dog. The techniques described have been very helpful for many dogs suffering from separation anxiety.

Another book called Leader of the Pack by Nancy Baer and Steve Duno emphasizes the understanding of why dogs behave the way they do and what behaviors WE do that send the wrong signals to our pets resulting in dominance issues, separation anxiety, barking, etc. Both books can be found on line.

The most important thing for you to remember is that you CAN help your dog. Your dog loves you and wants to please you and you can start from that knowledge. But it takes time and patience. If a dog
is sent back to the rescue group, the people who foster or care for the dog will have to train an
animal that misses its owner and is in a strange and foreign environment. This is not good for the dog.

Some dogs have a hard time trusting and forming bonds again. Some dogs have been returned over
and over for the same problem of separation anxiety but even the most difficult cases can be resolved
with enough patience and understanding.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Training and Behavior - Fear in Greyhounds

The following was written by Dennis McKeon, who was a trainer for many years at the Wonderland Race Track.  Dennis has years of experience and knows greyhounds very well.   Since we try to place many of the shy dogs (on Craiger's List), we feel that this information is helpful in understanding them:

Ideopathic Fear and Withdrawal In Greyhounds

One of the most educational aspects of working with large populations or colonies of Greyhounds in racing, is to watch how the pack interacts, and to observe the dynamics of it. Greyhounds have always been pack animals. Not just historically, but in actuality. They have hunted and coursed in packs, and today they race in packs.

They are kept with their dams much longer than most, if not all breeds, and they begin their socialization training within their own family units. Within that unit, a pecking order develops. There is usually always a dominant individual, or an “alpha”, and depending upon the size and nature of the litter, there might be both an alpha male and female. Often, they are the play leaders. The others are submissive to them, and to one another, and so-on, down the “chain of command”. The alphas are not always the best athletes or the fastest in the litter, but they do often command a certain degree of supplication.

More educational, is when these small packs are introduced to the larger pack of the kennel, either at the track, or on the breeder’s facility. It is simply fascinating to see how they integrate themselves within the pack dynamic and the established hierarchy. Sometimes it can mean trouble, when introducing future colony alphas to current colony alphas, or to one another. You have to be able to read dog body language well, and to recognize instantly when there is a disturbance within the pack “force”.

Now the alphas are not the only ones that require your attentions. Betas, or sub-dominant individuals, can be in constant need of your supervision, as they often push the envelope of the pack’s serenity, and while not seeking pack dominance, sometimes seem to almost invite correction. Greyhounds at the bottom of the pack hierarchy are omegas. These are often high strung, nervous, shy, retiring, submissive types, who are only followers. Sometimes this “follower” mentality results in a racer who doesn’t want to lead the pack at all. But more often, the omega personality is simply a tightly wound follower, lacking in self-confidence, readily submissive and somewhat introverted. We used to call these types “touchy” or “squirrelly”.

Sometimes, adoptive owners of omega and other lower ranking pack members, mistake their dog’s pack-ordained personalities as being the result of inattention, or even rough or inappropriate handling. And this could be the case in some instances. More likely, their natural nervous energies and absence of self assurance is amplified by the extremely challenging life adjustment from the racing kennel to the family domicile---where all sorts of new and intimidating objects and arrangements confront them. Good and empathetic pet owners are patient with these dogs---and there are many more of them than there are alphas---and they slowly acclimate and re-habituate them to their new lives. It has all worked out splendidly, as we know, and retired greyhounds are phenomenally popular as pets. Even the shy, touchy types seem to find their forever homes.

One of the great mysteries of the Greyhound world, and the dog world in general, is the “spook” phenomenon. Spooks are greyhounds who are pathologically fearful of everyone and everything with which or whom they are not intimately familiar. They are profoundly terrified of any sort of novelty. Spooks are genetic. Spooks who are bred, tend to throw a higher percentage of spook offspring, though some never pass the anomaly on.

All dogs develop a natural fear response at about 8-12 months of age. For some reason we don’t quite understand yet, sometimes this natural fight-or-flight instinct goes haywire, and the dog becomes entirely fearful and withdrawn. Anyone who has ever raised a litter of spooks---and I have---is always heartbroken when they see this phenomenon developing, and are powerless to do anything much to remedy it.

According to PetMD:

“Profound fear and withdrawal of unknown cause (so called idiopathic fear and withdrawal) has also been noted in certain dog breeds, including the Siberian Husky, German Shorthaired Pointer, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, Border Collie, and Standard Poodle, among others. There appears to be a strong familial component, with the likelihood of a genetic influence.”

While the racing greyhound who develops idiopathic fear and withdrawal syndrome can behave quite normally around his/her handlers and familiars, they become completely withdrawn and terrified of any new people who are introduced to the kennel environment.

Naturally, they are a true challenge to potential adopters, and only greyhound savvy individuals with a great deal of empathy, time and patience would be advised to adopt a greyhound who exhibits this unusual disorder. These aren’t simply shy, touchy, squirrelly omega types, or just high strung greyhounds. As a matter of fact, I’ve handled at least one spook who was the alpha female in a racing kennel.

The rewards, needless to say, of winning the trust and love of a true “spook”, are well worth the time and energy required. It’s almost as if they’ve kept it all stored up just to shower down their affections upon you, once you have finally broken through those vexing personality barricades.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rainbow Bridge - Joseph McNeal

We are very sad to report that our organization has lost a wonderful friend.  Joe McNeal lost his battle with a long illness in June.  We first met Joe years ago when we first started hosting meet and greet events.  Joe came in with his greyhound, Blondie, and introduced himself.  From that time on, Joe became a wonderful and loyal volunteer.  He came to almost all of our meet and greet events - he and Blondie spoke to many people during that time about greyhound adoption.

Joe always had a positive and upbeat attitude.  No matter what happened, he and Blondie kept up the cause.  Everyone in our group was happy to see Joe and Blondie.

Several years ago, Joe was diagnosed with a terminal illness but he kept coming out for our events.  It was a little later that Blondie went to the bridge.  Joe's illness prohibited him from adopting another greyhound (his wife was also ill), but he and his wife, Ann, often stopped in for a visit at our events to "get his greyhound fix."

Between Joe's illness and Ann's illness, they were not able to attend as many events.  However, their daughter, Joanne, became a Nutro dog food representative so we were all able to keep in touch about Joe and Ann through Joanne.

Joe loved greyhounds as much as any person could.  We know how much he loved his precious Blondie and would like to think that he and Blondie have finally been reunited.  Rest in peace, Joe.  You and Blondie were loved by all of us.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dogs and Hot Cars - Warning!

The following press release has been posted from

Hot Cars Deadly for Dogs, Even with Windows Rolled Down
Police crack down on pet owners leaving dogs in hot cars

SACRAMENTO, CA (June 13, 2012) – After a number of people across the U.S. have been charged with animal cruelty for leaving their dogs in hot cars, causing the pets severe distress and even death, RedRover, a national nonprofit animal protection organization, is imploring pet owners to leave their dogs at home while running errands or visiting businesses that do not allow pets. Enclosed cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures quickly, even when relatively mild outside, making even short trips dangerous for pets.

Earlier in June, a Buckley, Washington, man was charged with first degree animal cruelty after his dog, Nexus, died locked inside his truck outside Nolte State Park. The two-year-old Golden retriever’s body temperature had risen to above 108 degrees and was still hot to the touch when examined hours later after passing. According to the vet, Nexus must have suffered greatly while trapped in the vehicle.

“People often leave their dogs in the car while they shop or run errands, but doing so can literally be a death sentence for your pet,” said RedRover President and CEO Nicole Forsyth. “You might think you will be gone for ‘just a minute,’ but every second counts for a dog left in a hot car. If it’s hot outside, leave your dog at home.”

Forsyth offered five reasons why leaving a dog in a hot car can be deadly:

Dogs are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads in their feet.

Even seemingly mild days are dangerous. In a Stanford University study, when it was 72 degrees outside, a car’s internal temperature climbed to 116 degrees within one hour.

Enclosed cars heat up quickly. In a study by San Francisco State University, when it was 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car rose to 99 degrees in 10 minutes and 109 degrees in 20 minutes.

A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.

Studies show that cracking the windows has little effect on a vehicle’s internal temperature.

“People are under the misconception that dogs are tougher than humans are, that they can handle the heat,” Forsyth said. “But the reality is, they are more susceptible to high temperatures and depend on us to keep them safe.”

In Nexus’ case, a passer-by did call 911 for help at witnessing the dog’s distress; unfortunately it was too late. Upon seeing a dog in distress in a hot car, it is imperative to call the local animal control agency or police immediately. Signs of distress include:

Excessive panting and/or drooling
Increased heart rate
Trouble breathing
Collapse or loss of consciousness
Respiratory arrest

To learn more about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars and to download educational materials to share with others, visit