FAQ's

Have you thought about "trying out" a greyhound but don't want to commit to full ownership? Or, do you have the time and love for a greyhound but would rather help out an adoption group?
Well, consider fostering! Greyhound Lifesavers is always in need of wonderful foster folks to help our greyhounds get used to a life of full retirement.

Foster homes are the backbone of our adoption group, and are still badly needed. Foster "parents" provide temporary, loving care for greyhounds until they are on their way to new lives. The rewards of fostering a new greyhound cannot be adequately explained in words, and the effort isn't all that taxing. This is truly an opportunity for you to save a life.

The most common comment about fostering a Greyhound, is "I'm afraid I will get too attached". Well, that is very true for each of us, but remember, "if you adopt, you can save one; if you foster, you can save many." This is why many people in our group who foster greyhounds usually fail "fostering 101", but continue to foster.

Since we have chosen not to use a kennel to house our dogs, the people most important to Greyhound Lifesavers are our foster families. These wonderful volunteers open their homes and give their time and energy to help our greys make the transition from racing dog to couch potato. It is a hard, often emotional trip in relatively uncharted waters, but there are great compensations. Foster families are often the first to see their grey wag a tail or take a cookie or give a kiss. Perhaps the hardest moment comes when it is adoption time. After sometimes several weeks, it is necessary for the foster family to say goodbye to their houseguest. However, they send them to their permanent homes ready to become part of the family and the foster family knows that whenever they meet, their grey will remember them and greet them as only old friends do.

What will I be doing with my foster dog?

This is the fun part. You get to take them on walks so they can become used to new sights and to being around people and other animals. You will introduce them to such everyday items as sliding glass doors, hardwood or tile floors, and grass. Best of all you will teach them that there are people in their world now who love them. You will give them the praise and attention that will help the process that will help them to trust their new friends.

How do I get started in fostering?

First download the fostering application there is no application processing fee for fostering a dog. Send in the application. Someone from the group will contact you to come out to your home and do an inspection. They may bring one of their dogs to see how everybody reacts and answer any questions you may have.

Why place Greyhounds in foster homes?

Greyhounds which have been brought up on rearing farms and later housed in kennels during their racing careers have a very regimented lifestyle and have little or no experience of the day to day happenings in the average family household. The first two or three weeks of a Greyhound's transformation into a companion dog represents a huge learning curve and may be stressful to the dog unless handled sympathetically.

The fostering period allows for an assessment of the Greyhound's personality and behavior traits, which may not be apparent in a kennel environment. It allows the dog to be introduced carefully to a range of new experiences so that when faced with these in their future adoptive home, the dog can cope without apprehension or fear. This is also the time when spaying or neutering can be arranged.

What are the criteria for foster homes?

Ideally, a foster family is someone who has been around dogs for some time and has some dog handling/training skills and a general knowledge of canine behavior. Experience in handling Greyhounds or other sight hounds would be advantageous but not essential. A stable home environment with established routines is important.

A foster home needs to have a well-fenced yard or somebody that is commited to walk the dog. The foster family would preferably be someone who does not work full time away from home, so that some time can be spent each day introducing the dog to new and novel experiences and increasing his general confidence.

The presence of children and/or other pets in the foster home would be seen as an advantage so long as careful supervision of any interactions can be assured. Many of these dogs will eventually be placed in adoptive homes with children, dogs, cats, birds or other pets. It is therefore important to assess each Greyhound's response and prey drive potential, so that good matches can be made between dog and adoptive family.

May I choose which dogs I foster?

When the dogs first come into our care we will do a check to see how they react around cats and other dogs. The foster application allows you to set limits on the kinds of dogs you foster. You may always decline a dog, and if your foster dog proves too much for you to handle he can be placed elsewhere.

How long is the fostering period?

Each individual dog would stay in a foster home for a minimum three to four weeks. If a suitable adoptive home is not available after this time, the dog may stay for a longer period, or be moved to a second foster home, which may have other experiences to offer. Although most Greyhounds are remarkable in the ease with which they adapt to their change in lifestyle, some may take longer than others to gain confidence with certain aspects of their new surroundings.

What are some of the things Greyhounds need to be taught?

Below is a listing of some medical conditions that greyhounds are prone to and some ideas to fix the problems before seeking medical attention.

Greyhound Gas

This is a biological warfare weapon! Greyhounds get gas when they are nervous or stressed. We have found that you can give them 2 TBSP of low fat plain yogurt either on their food or separately and that it will calm down their digestive track. The other solution is a brisk 1/2 mile walk.

Vomiting

Most greyhounds will eat grass to induce vomiting if they have an upset stomach. This is normal! You can offer them a plain piece of bread to help calm down the extra acid. If you notice that the vomiting is excessive or that they stop drinking/eating/playing—Call us IMMEDIATELY!

Spay or Neuter Complications

The clinic will go over all after surgery care instructions with you. Please pay attention to them. Watch for redness, swelling, discharge and licking. If the vet uses dissolvable sutures do not let your dog have a bath, or go swimming, this will make them go away before the healing is complete.

Diarrhea

This is VERY common to the greyhound just coming off the track. Generally this lasts only about a week, so don’t panic! Stop at the local Chinese Food Restaurant and get a big bucket of sticky gummy white rice to mix in with their food. About 1 cup of rice to 2 cups kibbles will make their stool more firm in a few days.

Bleeding

If your greyhound gets a cut, it will bleed—A LOT! Clean the cut with Betadine and a gauze pad. If the cut is large, place some antibiotic ointment on the telfa pad and medical tape it to them. If the bleeding continues for more than a day, contact us.

Scratching/Shaking Ears

Greyhounds have sensitive ears and they don’t like stuff to collect in them. Scratching and shaking is usually a sign that they need to be cleaned out. You can use a light solution of betadine and some cotton pads—please don’t use Q-tips in the ear canal.

Shyness

When the greyhounds are pulled from the track, some become VERY shy. Frequent walks help build the trust bond. Try to touch them as often as possible without “crowding them”. Refrain from making eye contact if possible and talk to them in a soft soothing voice. Trust takes time, but is well worth the rewards!

How strict should the foster home be with a new Greyhound?

Racing Greyhounds are used to a fairly regimented life with few options or choices to make in its day-to-day activities. The majorities of Greyhounds are creatures of habit, and are most relaxed when a set routine is in place. Family life does not always fall into a perfect routine, but establishment of set meal times and regular exercise and toileting opportunities will help a new Greyhound to feel at ease.

When a Greyhound is suddenly given the freedom of an entire house, and has some choice in how it spends its time, it may revert to a (temporary) second puppyhood. It is important that some basic ground rules are established for the dog early in the foster period and that all members of the family abide by them. Restricting the dog to certain rooms in the house, at least initially, may make supervision easier. This may be achieved by simply keeping doors closed or by using baby gates or other barriers. Most Greyhounds will discover soft human beds or lounge chairs within the first few days (or hours) after arrival. Although Greyhounds are the ultimate "couch potatoes", taking lounging almost to an art form, it must be remembered that their future adoptive home may not condone such practices. Therefore it is suggested that fosters are discouraged from reclining on the furniture.

A soft bed of their own, located in a quiet corner, should be provided, and the dogs encouraged to retreat to that area. The bed should be positioned so that the dog can take in most of the household activities without getting in the way. You may wish to move the dog's bed to just inside your bedroom or close by at night, so that the dog feels secure by your presence, and so that you can supervise the dog's nighttime activities. In the US, many Greyhounds are crated at night or if left in the house for short periods during the day.

Another vice of some Greyhounds newly introduced to the home is "counter surfing" food left on kitchen tables. Because Greyhounds are so tall, reaching such places is quite easy. The obvious solution is not to leave anything tempting lying within reach. Keeping one or more squirt bottles filled with water and ready to use can be effective in stopping such practices.

In spite of the warnings mentioned above, many Greyhounds will walk into a house for the first time, and proceed to take all in their stride, as if they had been there all their lives. They are generally fairly laid back creatures with tremendous adaptability and understanding.

What support does the foster home receive?

All foster homes must be inspected and approved before receiving their first dog. A meeting with all household members (human and otherwise) is necessary to assess everyone's attitude and to discuss any specific issues.

All dogs are bathed prior to arriving at a foster home. Some will have already undergone their full range of treatments, including de-sexing/castration, teeth cleaning, microchiping, vaccination and heartworm testing. An appropriate collar and lead is provided, as well as the dog's muzzle and a temporary ID tag. During the cooler months, a warm coat is also made available. If required, a crate may be loaned to assist a new dog's transition.

Extensive follow up and monitoring of the dog in foster care is made, generally by phone and e-mail. We realize that foster carers are generously opening up their homes and hearts to these dogs, and all support/advice necessary will be given promptly. We also appreciate that foster homes may not wish to care for dogs continually. Some may only try it once and decide it's not for them. Others may want a break between dogs, or may have holidays or other commitments planned for the near future.

What if we want to travel?

If you are fostering and want to go away for a weekend or take a vacation, the foster dog can be returned to the coordinator's care while you are away. Just arrange in advance as soon as you know and we will reserve a spot.

Will I become attached to my foster dog?

Yes, of course. However, when you meet the new family who is ready to provide a permanent loving home you will feel more than satisfied to see him move on to his new and better life.

What if I want to adopt the greyhound I am fostering ?

If you decide to be a foster home, it should be with the understanding that you are working toward helping a deserving Greyhound to a final home. If you think you might like to adopt a Greyhound, we require that a completed Greyhound Lifesavers Inc.Adoption Application be on file.

Emergency Foster Homes Needed!

If you are an experienced greyhound owner and could possible help foster a dog when an emergency situation arises, please e-mail us and let us know. We are trying to create a list of emergency contacts. Greyhound Lifesavers can supply crates when needed and will reimburse you for dog food. These would typically be short term situations with the dogs moving to a more permanent foster home as soon as one is available.

The Realities of Fostering

You have a large dog in your home

This dog will most likely get into the trash once or twice. (Every time they have smelled food in their past, it has been their food!)

Greyhounds are VERY curious and will inadvertently get into things you’d rather they didn’t disturb

You will most likely clean up some “accidents” in the first couple of days as they make the adjustment into your home

Greyhounds will always look for the softest spot in the house to sleep on

Scooping the yard and regular walks will become a part of your routine

Feeding time will become an event rather than just food bowls left out

You will become an ambassador for greyhound rescue—everywhere you go with your dog, people will stop you and ask questions about the breed and about your experiences with them. Take full advantage of this. It will help us place more dogs in loving home's!

You will find lots of love and companionship returned from these amazing dogs

Recap why fostering and you are important to the success of us finding homes for each grey:

If you are interested in becoming a foster family to one of our hounds or would like more information, please contact Greyhound Lifesavers by e-mail or phone at (803) 414 1476

Our foster application can also be downloaded here. Foster Home Application and mail it to the address on the application