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reviews for comet's tale
“A greyhound? Are you crazy? Mon dieu! What are you going to do with one of those skinny, hyper, racing dogs? You have two perfectly sweet golden retrievers and three beautiful daughters right now who could stand a lot more of your attention.” The fiery response was probably understandable, given that I had trouble walking, was often in pain, and was living alone in Arizona, 1,300 miles from the frustrated Frenchwoman – my wife – who was back home in Nebraska taking care of those daughters and dogs.

Had I not had a fortuitous encounter with a group that rescued abandoned racing greyhounds, my attitude about the breed probably would have closely mimicked Freddie’s. Such an impression is not unusual, but by the time of our conversation, I had already adopted the cinnamon-and-black striped brindle named Comet, who was the complete and total opposite of any clichéd notion of greyhounds. 

comet and steven

Tens of thousands of greyhound puppies are born every year. A miniscule percentage of those dogs are bred for shows, like the Westminster Dog Show. The vast majority, estimated to be more than 20,000 puppies per year even with so many fewer dog tracks from the heydays of the 1980s through the 1990’s, come into this world on breeding farms. There, kennels are equipped with long-chained runs, which teach the dogs one thing—how to run fast. At about 15 to 18 months of age, these greyhounds are sent to tracks where they spend all their time in cages between races.

This is not to say that many of these dogs are not cared for, fed and given their shots on time. Indeed, many breeders will tell you unequivocally that they love their greyhounds. The conundrum, though, is that the numbers of these dogs that must be bred to satiate the racing industry’s demands necessitate greyhounds be raised and treated more like prize livestock than family pets. And as a former Iowa farm boy, I can tell you no matter how much the 4-H steer was loved, it wasn’t going to stay with the family after it reached hamburger weight.

doghouses

Instead of being euthanized or sold for medical research as in former days, many discarded greyhounds—those who don’t make it as winners— are now finding their way to one of the three hundred groups that prepare them for adoption. Greyhounds are not raised in farm kennels in order to become cuddly, loving house companions, but, oh, let me tell you from experience, that’s exactly what they can be.

Inevitably, a greyhound guardian becomes a passionate advocate for the breed. Comet was serene, unassuming, and affectionate. Her demeanor was often more Zen than dog. She was the best companion this man could ever have. And Freddie’s initial worries that I would not be able to take care of Comet proved somewhat ironic: As my health deteriorated, I eventually trained Comet to become my service dog. She not only took care of me, she ended up saving my life.

doghouses


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