SOUTHINGTON — Dozens of greyhound dogs with coats of white, brown, brindle, and all shades in between attended the WAG, We Adopt Greyhounds, annual meet-up Sunday, at the Southington Drive-in on Waterbury-Meriden Turnpike.
WAG is a volunteer-based, 501(c)3 non-profit, and its members come from throughout the state.
At the event, greyhound parents, with dogs on leash, shared pet tales with each other and visited vendors’ row to browse dog trinkets, treats, blankets and jackets. There were pet games and contests, and dog selfies also proved popular.
With so many dogs in one place, one might expect endless barking, perhaps some territorial hostility. But there was none of that.
“That’s the breed. They are chill,” said WAG president, Southington resident,Chris Fanelli, who explained that as former racing dogs, greyhounds are used to being physically close to other greyhounds. Fanelli has owned and fostered many greyhounds over the years, and said the dogs generally don’t bark and have gentle, laid-back personalities.
Aside from their easy-going personalities, there are physical characteristics that set them apart from most dogs. Greyhounds do not have a thick undercoat.
“They are all skin and bones and no undercoat,” Fanelli said. “Think about a greyhound being a track athlete. No fat, very lean muscle.”
Fanelli tells prospective greyhound adopters, “If you need a coat, then your dog needs a coat.”
The dogs are built aerodynamically.
“Their nose and head are small and their necks are thick, comparatively,” Fanelli said. Because of this, Martingale collars, with its wide-width design, is the preferred collar.
Sleek and stylish, greyhounds Mack and Scout, sported Martingale as they walked with their pet parents, Glenn and Kristen Anderson of Niantic. Initially, the Andersons didn’t think about a greyhound as a dog choice, until they went to a WAG pet store meet and greet. Mack and Scout are the couples’ fourth and fifth greyhounds.
“You’ll find a lot of that here,” Fanelli said. “Once people start with greyhounds, they tend to stay with them for life.”
Greyhounds are a special dog breed, known as sighthounds.
“The dogs lean into their sight, more than other senses,” Fanelli said.
Greyhounds were bred to be agile and to hunt with their sight, rather than other senses, such as a bloodhound’s ability to smell.
Dori Dzinski, staffing the WAG donation table, has owned three greyhound dogs from WAG.
“We only place former greyhound racing dogs or dogs who were bred to race,” she said.
Dog racing continues in Texas and West Virginia. Arkansas and Iowa are two states that are in the process of phasing out physical dog track facilities in their states. Dog tracks no longer exist in Connecticut but betting is still legal. Fanelli said the WAG non-profit does not have a position on the subject.
“It’s a fallacy that the dogs are mistreated,” said Dzinski. “Those dogs are loved by their trainers and kennel masters.”
However, when they are done racing, they need a place to go, said Fanelli.
“We find homes for them,” she said. “We don’t consider them having been rescued, we just find homes for retired racers.”
Rick Lucas with Connecticut Prison Greyhounds was at the event, helping to direct fun pet and parent games and support the greyhound community. Lucas’ non-profit partners with the Connecticut Department of Corrections, including Cheshire’s Manson Youth Correctional Center, and takes dogs who have recently “retired” and have no experience in everyday situations, including navigating stairs. When they graduate the course, greyhounds are placed with foster families or put up for adoption.
To learn more about greyhound fostering or adoption or to join one of the monthly WAG walks, go online to weadoptgreyhounds.org.