Written by Patti Goettler of Virginia
We are huge proponents of retired racing greyhounds. These dogs have an amazing affinity for humans (and no, we don’t understand it either).
I have used service dogs since I was in an accident in 1985. As a dog trainer/behaviorist, I also train and certify service dogs. In 2010, I lost my 13-year-old Lurcher Tir Na N’Ogh. Not only was he my service dog, but he assisted me in training other dogs and he was a therapy dog.
I was devastated with his passing and was having many physical problems at the time. Our local Greyhound rescue, BRGA, had a rare “bounce back.” This is an adopted dog that is returned. He was a special case. A single man, who “loved” the dog, had adopted him, but a year or so later this man decided he also “loved” a woman and her small child. The new additions hated the Greyhound and let everyone know this.
Mysteriously, while the man and his new friend were off together, the small child was left alone with the Greyhound — who “bit” her. (No witnesses, of course).
Now they wanted the Greyhound destroyed. Thank heavens his adoption group jumped in and took him back (why the “owner” did not return him earlier we do not know).
We Got in the Car and Headed Out to Save Him
I was talking to friends at BRGA and found out that this dog needed fostering immediately, so we drove the 90 miles and picked him up on a Wednesday night.
The dog had lost about 20 pounds and looked horrible. He was so depressed that he would not even look at us.
That night he crept up and slept by my side of the bed. The next morning as I did my daily struggle to get out of the bed, he came over and leaned into me to help support me as I stood up (This was a task my service dogs were trained to do). He also assisted me as I came down the stairs. He was very sad and quiet, but stayed by me throughout the day.
I realized that if we won his trust back, it would be awful for the dog to be placed in yet another home, so I notified the group that he was no longer a foster but that this would be his REAL forever home.
He Has a Special New Role
He regained his health and joy and took over as my latest service dog. Ddraig (Welsh for Dragon) also helps me train other dogs and we now have started a group, Greyt Hearts Service Dogs Inc. to train other retired racers as service dogs.
Ddraig has encountered his own health problems. He developed Osteosarcoma and had his left hind leg amputated. He is bravely carrying on with assisting me in my dog training and never tires of spreading his love to all. He adores children and shares that love in his ongoing therapy dog work. Ddraig is my hero. More photos of Ddraig here
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