My last visit to the Greyhound Rescue
Once a week, I spend the morning helping out at the Hounds Rest Greyhound Pet Adoption Kennel about an hour from my house. This is the first stop for retired racing greyhounds as they leave their racing lives (usually from tracks in Arizona or breeding farms in Kansas). While at the kennel, the dogs are neutered, get caught up on their shots, get dental work or other necessary medical treatment before moving on to foster homes in the community. While in foster care, they begin the transition from ‘professional athlete’ to adored pet. They need to learn many things – leash walking, how to handle steps, not to run into glass doors, that microwave beeps won’t actually kill them, the proper way to sleep on a couch – all the important stuff.
But, with my second knee replacement surgery coming up, this was my last shift at the kennel for awhile.
Leaving was a little sad for me
I’d finished all the cleaning, feeding and turn-outs. Checked the kennel latches and fed each dog their goodbye dog biscuit. I was at my car changing my shoes, feeling a bit sad that I wouldn’t see the hounds for awhile and that I would probably never see these particular dogs again – they’ll all be out in foster or adopted and starting their new lives by the time I’ll be able to volunteer again.
An unexpected group serenade!
So, with these thoughts in my mind, I was surprised to hear one dog start a low, mournful howl. Now, greyhounds are known for ‘Rooing’ or howling. They don’t seem to bark as much as other dogs –but some of them like to howl. And when a pack of hounds start to ‘Roo’, it’s an amazing experience. I had never heard the kennel dogs howl – they often bark when we first drive up, anxious for their breakfast – but never howling.
As I listened, slowly the other dogs joined in until the whole kennel was in full voice. The ululation continued for almost a minute before fading out. The sound was eerie, wild and (in my present mood) very emotional. Usually, I notice the dogs silliness, or their sweet personalities, or their sheer athleticism. This was quite different and I felt a little blessed.