As I’ve mentioned before, I adopted Toby from Greyhound Relocation and Adoption Canada. Here is my experience with the adoption process. *Note that my experience may differ from another adopter.
The Initial Email
The process begins with you. After much research and thought about adopting one of these beautiful creatures, it’ll come time to initiate the conversation. I drafted an email to GRA which gave a snapshot of me, my family, and our lifestyle. I listed out what I wanted to have in my greyhound, in terms of personality, energy level, age, and gender. Things like size, colour, and other physical aspects weren’t of large concern to me as I weighed more importance on the character of the dog. It is incredibly crucial to be honest with yourself. Are you really going to want a super high energy dog when you’re a couch potato or vice versa? Are you willing to put in the effort to help, support, and train a shy or fearful dog? Take your time and think about your current and future situation and be honest with what kind of dog you want. If you’re also already interested in any of the available dogs, you’d also want to mention it in the email as well. For me, I had looked at all the dogs, but I wanted to meet a dog first so I wouldn’t get disappointed if I fell in love with one based on looks but the personality didn’t match. I also included dates and times I was available and then I sent that email off!
The original email I sent was at the beginning of April. I had mentioned that I would be adopting a dog in May, so the response was received at the beginning of May. The response time of GRA is quite quick, but it varies based on how busy they are with adoptions or new arrivals of greyhounds. The response I received was from a volunteer who was able to reassure me that there were plenty of dogs that matched what I wanted. They also recommended the book, “Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies” which is an excellent read, and the date/time that was best for my family and GRA to pick out our new family member.
As mentioned above, “Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies” was recommended by GRA for all adopters to read. I can’t stress enough how much valuable information is in that book!! I was lucky enough to find that book available at my local library so I saved a few dollars. I highly and strongly recommend anyone who is interested in adopting a retired racer to read that book. As a matter of fact, I’m probably going to borrow that book again because I definitely need a refresher of the book.
But anyways, I had a week to prepare before the visit, which for me, was to read the book, blogs, and watch videos online to really confirm whether or not a greyhound was right for me. After all that time researching, I was SO ready for this dog. It was also important for me to talk with my family and get insight on their views on what sort of dog they wanted as well. They were pretty hands-off throughout this process because they knew (and I knew) that this dog would be my dog and my responsibility.
May 1, 2016: my family and I would make the 1.5 hour drive to the GRA Canada kennel/farm on that cool, wet, and rainy day. I actually couldn’t believe that I was going to the kennel to pick my forever friend. Excitement was at an all-time high as well has a lot of nerves. I was so scared I wasn’t going to find a dog that was right for me. But I pushed those feelings aside and focused on mentally preparing myself with meeting all the dogs. As a tip: if you’re visiting the kennel during wet weather, I suggest you wear boots since the ground can get pretty muddy!
When we pulled up to the farm, another family was already there and taking out a dog for their walk. I was greeted by two volunteers and then met with Heather (kennel mom/owner/operator of GRA) afterwards. We shared pleasantries and then Heather wanted to hear what kind of dog I wanted. I remember being so excited and caught off guard by the question, I forgot some of the things I listed out in my initial email. So, for you potential adopters out there, I recommend bringing a copy of your list so you don’t blank out like I did! After listing out most of the things I wanted in my greyhound, Heather took us into the kennel area and pointed out three or four dogs that matched my description. The kennel area is a large room, divided into two with a long path down the middle. Boys on the left, girls on the right. The smell of farm, dog, and that “kennel odour” definitely caught me off guard, but really, what was I expecting? Overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings, I had no idea which dog to pick.
So, my mom to the rescue. She pointed at Toby (because she noticed he was calm, quiet, and lying down – but don’t assume that the dog’s going to be that way once they’re out of their crate), also known as Rain at the time, the leash was handed to us, and we took him for a walk. The walk took about 15-20 minutes as we had a nice, brisk walk from the farm to the lake down the beautiful farm path. There was feeling was almost immediate. Perhaps it was because he was the first dog we walked, but he was walking so nicely and I fell in love. He stayed right by our side… literally. He kept leaning against the leg of whoever was walking him! My family enjoyed walking with him and I found his need for physical contact endearing!
Afterwards we didn’t take as many pictures, probably because we got our fix of taking so many pictures with Rain/Toby. Next, we took out Apollo, a sweet and beautiful black male dog. He had the same personality and energy level as Toby so he was also a top contender. We told the volunteers we liked the personality of Rain/Toby and Apollo, so they pointed out Westy, a brindle boy, who was higher energy. We didn’t walk the full path as I personally preferred the chilled out nature of Rain/Toby and Apollo. Next, Bruce (another black dog who was also a bundle of energy) and Parker (a cow dog, just like Toby, who decided to freeze on us multiple times) got a chance with us but those two didn’t make through the whole walk either. So in total, me and my family walked 5 dogs. After walking the last dog, Parker, we narrowed our decision between Rain/Toby and Apollo. We took each of the dogs out for one final walk to decide which boy we’d be taking home.
Now, I think it’s also important to mention that for whatever reason, I find that male dogs get adopted last. Especially black dogs. When I mentioned to the volunteers that I preferred a male dog, they were all excited to hear that! I urge anyone who is interested in adopting any dog to consider getting a male and/or black dog. They’re usually last to find homes but they’re just as deserving for their forever couch.
It was definitely hard to pick between the two. I got the opinions of the volunteers since they handled these dogs on a regular basis. They mentioned that Rain/Toby is definitely shy but more confident. Apollo on the other hand, they found he was not as shy, but less confident. In retrospect, with the information I know now, it is incredibly hard to tell the real personality of a dog based on a short walk. These dogs won’t show their full personalities since their kennel life is very new to them still. So potential adopters, please keep that in mind! Anyways, I seriously couldn’t decide and my family was fine with either one of those two dogs. One of the volunteers asked me which dog I’d be more upset about if that dog was adopted by another family. And it hit me, it was Rain/Toby. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Apollo and I have a very special place in my heart for black dogs, but something about Rain/Toby made me want to adopt him! And yes, many happy tears were shed.
So, I read the agreement, signed the paperwork, and sealed the deal. The volunteers told us that they will be in contact with us when our new family member is ready to be picked up. In total, we spent around 2 hours at the kennel.
Looking back, I would definitely give this piece of advice to any person adopting or getting a dog: don’t set unreasonably high expectations. I had this expectation that when I meet my dog that there would be rainbows, butterflies, sparkles, and magic. Of course, a lot of people do have that special moment, but for me, I didn’t. I just had this feeling that this dog is mine and I wanted him. None of that magical, fantasized stuff you see on TV or in movies.
The Preparation… Part 2
Now that my forever friend has been selected, it was time to BUY ALL THE THINGS! GRA said that it would take about a week for Toby to get neutered (sorry son, it had to be done). I found it incredibly helpful that you could pick up your pup whenever you were ready, as long as it was 48 hours after their surgery (for male dogs). So, in total I waited 2 weeks before I brought my baby home to prepare for him. In the two weeks, I was in execution mode. Buying everything on my list, lining up what needed to be done like registering my pet with the city, looking for pet insurance, and looking for a vet.
Looking for pet insurance and a vet were probably the most difficult. I wanted a greyhound-savvy vet that was nearby and I wanted a pet insurance company that was reasonable and had good coverage. Phone calls were made and research was done online and on the GRA Facebook Group. I can’t stress enough how much information is on that Facebook group as there are so many knowledgeable greyhound owners and answers for almost anything!
To see the list of all the things I purchased for Toby’s homecoming and a few things I picked up, see this post.
Bringing Toby Home
May 15, 2016: I brought my fur-baby home! The 1.5 hour trip was made again to the GRA kennels. We used our van, folded down the back seat, and placed some blankets on the floor of the van for Toby. I also brought along some boiled chicken (as treats), a squeaky toy, a fashionable bandana, and his tag ID.
We arrived at the kennel and I was greeted by the same volunteer as the first visit (who I would be in consistent contact with in the weeks following his homecoming). She brought us in and we finished up with the paperwork and walked us through the welcome package.
After the paperwork and questions were done, she let out our new boy! She left the door to the dog area open and let Toby run free (inside, of course)! It definitely caught my mom and I off guard as he was so full of energy! We snapped some pictures, collected our things, and wrapped up our visit for the day. I would also like to mention that GRA Canada provides adopters with a leash, martingale collar, their muzzle, and a bag of their current kennel food for transitioning.
On the car ride home, Toby would not sit down at all. He was constantly standing in the trunk area, sniffing around, looking out the windows, and just being active. He walked around a lot too, making his way up to the middle row where I was sitting and peeking his head in the driver/passenger seat area. This was something I was not expecting as I was hoping he’d lie down on the blankets we brought along! But we safely transported him home… also on a rainy day! He definitely lived up to his racing name up until he became our little Toby.
Now, with his first few weeks at home, I’ll save that for another post. But what I will share is that the key to transitioning your greyhound into their retirement life is to be patient, take things slowly, and don’t take things personally when your hound doesn’t take to you immediately.
It’s a slow process but it’s so worthwhile. This is your new forever friend and the memories you’ll create will be with you forever.
Until the next post,