'Hounds need a home

Greyhounds might seem like a surprising choice as good family dogs, but here they show their love to Monique Smith. (Photo by Chad Smith)

Greyhound racing is big business in 15 states across the country, with millions of dollars won and lost. The greyhounds themselves live their lives either running on a racetrack or in a kennel for long distance transportation.

A concerned group of Minnesotans worries about what happens to greyhounds that can no longer race effectively and make money on the track. Typically, the dogs are retired after four or five effective years at most. Minnesota Greyhound Rescue works to make sure these dogs get to live out the balance of their post-race lives in loving homes.

"I got my first greyhound nine years ago," said Kelly Johnson, of Rochester, who's been involved with Minnesota Greyhound Rescue since that time. Lloyd and Jen Komatsu, of Inver Grove Heights, are also involved in the group. "Brad Kittleson and I typically set up most of the adoptions we do each year," Johnson said.

Her first interaction with greyhounds came about by accident.

"I went to a pet store to get a fish," Johnson said. "A fish accidentally went down the sink and my children were not happy. The greyhounds were in the store and I'd never seen one before, never been to a track, and didn't know what they were. There was my first greyhound, Catch, and I fell in love with him."


She added, "My family thought I was nuts, but here we are years later because that started the whole thing."

A little 'funny'

Greyhounds appear a little unusual at if you've never seen one. On first impression, Kelly thought greyhounds actually looked a little "funny," but it was Catch's personality that won her over.

"I liked how he acted when I first saw him," Johnson said. "Then I went to see him again and there were nine other greyhounds with him, and they all were sleeping. So I just sat down in the middle of them and thought, 'Yep, this is what I'm supposed to do.'"

You might think greyhounds would need to run constantly after years of being on the racetrack. Johnson said their personalities are actually very different from that. Lazy, calm, and quiet are just a few of the words she would use to describe a typical greyhound.

"When we do big events like the Pet Expo and the State Fair," Johnson said, "we've had anywhere up to 12 dogs there at one time, and they're all sound asleep. People ask us all the time what we put in their food to make them sleep like that. There's nothing in their food, it's just who they are.

"They're trained to sleep at the racetrack, and that's who they become," she said.

'They love kids'


Johnson is restrained in her comments about how greyhounds are treated as race animals. She says she simply wants to give the dogs a good place to live when their racing careers are over.

Though the dogs typically are done racing by the end of their fifth year, the end can come sooner than that. For example, if a dog fails to finish first, second, or third in six straight races, they're done racing for good. So, she says, why not give the animals that have worked so hard a place to rest after their labors are over?

Greyhounds often make great family dogs because most of them are good with children, Johnson said.

"I have three kids of my own that have grown up with greyhounds," she said. "They love kids and are great with them. The only thing they don't like is when kids jump on them while sleeping. The animals aren't used to being touched when they sleep because they spend so much time in kennels when they're younger, so it scares them."

You also want to not intrude too much when they're in a kennel. They're used to being left alone in their kennel, because that's where they spent most of their time. As with most animals, even humans, it simply takes a little time to adjust to a new home.

"They typically get along (well) with other breeds of dogs," Johnson said. "They would rather be with other greyhounds. I call them 'breed snobs,' but we place them in homes with other breeds of dogs all the time. Greyhounds will do much better in a home with any breed of dog than they will by themselves."


Learn more


Interested in adopting? Check out Minnesota Greyhound Rescue's website, , to find more information and fill out an application.

The process usually goes fairly quickly, as the longer the dogs stay with the rescue home, the harder the eventual transition to their permanent home will be for them.

The organization accepts donations of old blankets. Greyhounds love to lay on them, and they can go through blankets quickly. Call Kelly Johnson at 507-272-3467 for more information.

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