Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

100 Reasons to Adopt a Greyhound

Here's a pictorial summary of why adopting a greyhound is so wonderful (click on individual pictures for descriptions):

Friday, April 26, 2013

Greyhound Movie Star

Some greyhounds are even movie stars! Today the movie "Pain & Gain" comes out, and Seven the greyhound (adopted from Southeastern Greyhound Adoption) plays the role of Tasty Reuben. If you're in the Atlanta area, stop by to meet Seven tomorrow (Saturday, April 27th) at 3:00 P.M. at the AMC Parkway Pointe theater on Cobb Parkway.  A group of SEGA people are going to the 4:05 P.M. showing of the movie afterwards.  Note that this movie is VERY MUCH rated R for strong language, sex content, and nudity.

Jennifer Bachelor, a friend of mine in the Southeastern Greyhound Club, is Seven's owner.  Check out this nice writeup about them that was in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Howliday Dog Cookie Exchange

A number of years ago, I saw a recipe for Yummy Dog Bones from the Atlanta Humane Society.  Homemade dog treats – what a brilliant idea!  I love to cook anyway, and so this was a natural for me.  This dough is very easy to work with, lending itself to all kinds of cookie cutter shapes.  In addition to a bone cookie cutter, I also use a fire hydrant cookie cutter.  My favorite, however, is a gingerbread man cookie cutter; I use a nut pick to draw a face and to write US MAIL on each man’s chest, creating mailmen J  One time I made a batch of these dog biscuits, and Robert’s curiosity got the best of him.  He just had to try one.  (No worries there because, like most homemade dog treats, this recipe contains only ingredients that people eat anyway.)  Robert’s review: it tasted about like you’d expect a dog biscuit to taste.  But the hounds give them two paws up!  Since then, I have had fun trying all kinds of other dog treat recipes.  That original recipe for Yummy Dog Bones, however, is hard to beat.

Yummy Dog Bones

1/3 cup butter
2 beef or chicken bouillon cubes
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour

Combine butter, bouillon, and water in a saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted and bouillon dissolves.  Add this to powdered milk and egg in a large bowl.  Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Knead 3-4 minutes.  Pat or roll to 1/2-inch thickness and cut out with bone-shaped cookie cutter.  Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes or until hard and light brown.

Yield: 1¼ lb.

Having discovered the joy of making homemade dog treats, I couldn’t resist when the Southeastern Greyhound Club (parent organization of Southeastern Greyhound Adoption) starting hosting an annual Howliday Dog Cookie Exchange.  We get together with our greyhounds and exchange individual bags of treats.  Everyone takes home all kinds of dog goodies, ranging from cookies to muffins to homemade jerky.  Ingredients might include meat or meat broth, peanut butter, pumpkin, cranberries, or bananas.  (Of course, the main dog no-no is chocolate.)

Since we have the Howliday Dog Cookie Exchange during the Christmas season, I often dress myself and the greyhounds festively for the event.  I love finding excuses to don crazy costumes myself, and so I have no compunction about dressing up my greyhounds, either.  For example, one time the greyhounds and I wore matching elf costumes.  (I bought them for just a few dollars each in a clearance sale.  I have totally gotten my money’s worth out of those costumes!)  That year there was a surprise prize for the best holiday attire.  Guess who won?  I was thrilled to receive an entire cookbook of dog treat recipes.

Perhaps even more memorable than the elf costumes was the year that I dressed up Cosmo and Mr. Spock as camels.  My mother made the costumes and did a beautiful job.  They consisted of foam humps draped with satiny fabric.  She even put gold fringe along the edges and made reins out of gold cords.  The only tricky part was actually getting the costumes on the greyhounds – imagine that!  The best way we could come up with to secure the humps was to wrap ace bandages around them and the greyhounds’ bellies.  Then the fabric was draped over the humps.  The whole system looked good on the surface but was rather unstable underneath the glitz.  The costumes dazzled briefly before the humps started falling off.  Still, it was worth it for a few minutes of jollity.

I didn’t ask my mother to go to all that trouble to make the camel costumes just for the cookie exchange.  That was really just a bonus camel-costume-wearing event.  The primary reason for the costumes is that Cosmo and Mr. Spock were supposed to be camels at my church’s live nativity that year.  I was on the live nativity planning committee, and several months earlier as we were discussing which live animals we could incorporate, someone had the rather joking suggestion that my greyhounds could be camels.  Of course, I had to run with this!

The live nativity was held outside in the courtyard next to my church.  The “camels” were to enter the scene late in the program, accompanying the wise men.  So, I waited in the adjacent parking lot with Cosmo and Mr. Spock, bedecked in all their regalia, until their time to go on.  As before when they wore the costumes, I struggled to get the humps to stay in place, but we were managing OK.  It turns out that we faced an even bigger obstacle.  The live nativity also included a donkey and some chickens, which stayed on stage throughout the performance.  These other creatures, and probably the whole unfamiliar situation, kind of freaked out my greyhounds.  When it was time for Cosmo and Mr. Spock to go on, they got stage fright and wouldn’t move.  The wise men had to proceed camel-less-ly.

Naturally, my mother wanted to hear how the live nativity went.  I was kind of reluctant to tell her about it, but we couldn’t help but laugh.  At least the greyhounds had gotten a good wearing of the camel costumes at the Howliday Dog Cookie Exchange.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Contraband Greyhounds and Escaped Convicts

Since A Year of Centuries is all about cycling, I have to share a story about bicycle racing and greyhounds.  Several years ago, Robert and his cycling teammates headed to Rome, Georgia for a weekend of racing.  I thought it would be fun to tag along, especially because it was Robert’s birthday.  Also, it was a good venue for some greyhound meeting & greeting, and so Cosmo and Mr. Spock joined the party.

The team set up a few pop-up tents as a base location during the races.  I think Robert’s teammates liked having the greyhounds hang out with them during their downtime.  As is typical, the guys did a lot of sitting when they weren’t racing, trying to conserve their energy.  It occurred to us that cyclists and greyhounds are similar in that way: they’re either vegging out or racing like the wind.

Our adventures weren’t limited to the races.  The motel where we stayed offered plenty of excitement, too.  We stayed at the Howard Johnson, the only motel I could find in Rome that accepted dogs over 20 lb., at least according to the Internet.  When we were checking in, however, we noticed a sign behind the counter that read “No Pets.”  Oops.  So, we snuck the greyhounds in and out of our room all weekend.  Besides, we couldn’t have been much more conspicuous than the groups of blue hairs on tour buses and apparent escaped convicts that made up the rest of the motel’s clientele while we were there.

At about 3:30 A.M. Friday night, Cosmo awakened me – I kid you not! – by tapping me with his paw.  I got out of bed and saw him standing by the door, and so of course I assumed he needed to go out.  Robert had taken the greyhounds’ collars off of them because the jingling of their tags was keeping him awake.  I was feeling around in the dark for their collars.  Robert wasn’t sleeping much anyway, and he whispered to me where the collars were, trying not to disturb his teammate Jake and his wife Kristy, who were sharing a room with us.  Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to get the room key off of the table as I headed out with both greyhounds.  I went out just as I was, wearing a long, pink nightshirt.  It had two cartoon ducks on it, one carrying the other, and the caption “Seducktion.”  The greyhounds did their business, and we went back to the room.  When we got to the door, I realized that I hadn’t grabbed the room key; I had Jake’s credit card!  So there I was at 3:30 A.M. in my pink Seducktion nightshirt, locked out of the room, holding a couple of contraband greyhounds, and laughing my butt off!  I tapped on the door gently, and Robert let me in.  Jake and Kristy told us the next morning that they didn’t hear a thing.

Cosmo didn’t try to get on the motel beds, being content to lie on the floor:

Mr. Spock, however, enjoyed getting on the people beds, something he’s not allowed to do at home:

Mr. Spock even spent Saturday night between Robert’s and my feet.  All of us were pretty worn out on Saturday night and didn’t have any trouble sleeping – until a fight broke out among the escaped convicts right outside our door at about 1:30 A.M.  (We assumed it was the escaped convicts and not the blue hairs.)  They were screaming and kicking doors.  Jake peeked through the curtain and saw some guy fly out the door of the room next to us, through the air, and onto a car hood.  We were afraid that knives or guns were involved.  We were debating whether to call management or go straight to 911.  Then we heard the motel manager trying to break it up.  I guess no one was killed, but it was frightening.  Cosmo was scared, too.  The next morning, Jake and Kristy said he crawled in bed with them for the rest of the night.  Jake said he just snuggled up next to Cosmo and went back to sleep.

We found out later from the manager that the people who caused the ruckus were contestants in Battle of Rome V that was held Saturday night at The Forum.  Apparently, this was a series of fights in which the contestants were put in a cage to beat the crap out of each other.  Sounds pretty much like the gladiators in ancient Rome.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Greyhound Leaders

This is not a Greyhounds & Grey Hairs story, but it is one of the most meaningful encounters that I have had with greyhounds and people.  Several years ago I worked as the assistant director of the Jasper County Youth Leadership Camp, which lasted for about two and a half weeks.  The camp was intended to develop leadership skills in the approximately 30 middle and high school students who attended.  Many of these students had severe problems, whether behavioral, family, etc.  In other words, they were a pretty tough crowd.

One morning during camp, I brought in Cosmo and Mr. Spock.  I talked with the students about animals being part of the world just as people are and that we need to look out for them all.  Also, I explained how I am the pack leader for Cosmo and Mr. Spock, giving a simple demonstration by walking them easily on their leashes around the room. Some of the students wanted to take turns walking the dogs, too, which worked great.

Several of the students who were initially kind of scared of the greyhounds relaxed as they saw Cosmo and Mr. Spock greeting and interacting so well with everyone.  One girl who had been a particularly hard nut to crack during camp asked a very poignant question.  She asked, “Why are they so friendly?”  I suspect that she had never encountered anything but a mean dog.  I told her that if you treat a dog with kindness, respect, and love, it will respond the same way to you – the same way it works with people.  I guess I had never really thought of it exactly like this, but adults are the ones who make mean dogs and mean children.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Go Ahead - Make My Day

One of my favorite people to visit was “Mrs. Gaines.”  She was in her nineties, but her mind was as sharp as a tack.  She loved to read and was a great conversationalist.  When Cosmo, Mr. Spock, and I would stop by her room, she literally would cry out with delight.  I can’t tell you how many times she said that she had been feeling kind of down, but that our visit made her day.  That always made my day.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Common Denominator

Before “Miss Alice” moved to The Retreat, the greyhounds and I visited her at her house several times.  She usually hung out on her screened-in back porch.  The greyhounds climbed the dozen steps to the porch and lay quietly on the floor while Miss Alice and I talked.  I think she was always kind of amazed at how well mannered they were.  During one of these visits, the sun shone on Cosmo’s lower legs in such a way that the thin, delicate skin and underlying veins – typical of a greyhound – were particularly noticeable.  Miss Alice marveled, “His feet look just like my hands!”

Monday, April 15, 2013


“Mrs. Bishop” always loved seeing the greyhounds, and so we always made sure to visit her.  One time when we went to her room, she was awake, but she didn't hear us knock or see us come into her room.  I spoke softly to her, leaning toward her.  She was so excited that she reached out, grabbed me around my neck, and gave me a big kiss.  I didn't know that a nearly 100-year-old woman could be so strong!  It reminded me how vital a human touch is for the residents.  A hug, a gentle squeeze of the hand, or a pat on a hound’s head gives them a little contact with another living creature.  Fortunately, such contact usually doesn’t involve a headlock.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rabbit Dogs and Good Eats

I remember the first day that “Mr. Matthews” was at The Retreat because it happened to be a Greyhounds & Grey Hairs day.  I met his daughter in the parking lot as I was arriving and she was leaving.  She had been getting him settled in and, understandably, was rather upset with this major life change.  When she saw Cosmo and Mr. Spock, she smiled a little through her tears.  She was so glad to learn that he would get some regular canine visitors because her father had always loved dogs so much.

I met Mr. Matthews when I went inside.  It was the first of many wonderful visits.  He always looked so cute in his fedora and denim overalls.  As soon as he saw Cosmo and Mr. Spock, he would say, “I had a couple just like them.”  I don’t know exactly what kind of dogs he had, but they were rabbit dogs.  He affectionately described how they knew it was time to hunt as soon as he got out his gun.  Even if I heard the same story every time we visited, I was happy knowing that he was having some happy memories.

After Mr. Matthews had fondly reminisced about his rabbit dogs on a number of our visits, one day he described cooking what he hunted.  He loved rabbit, squirrel, ‘coon, and possum.  I asked him, “Isn’t possum really greasy?”  He replied, “It’s good!”  Then he started to explain how you cook a possum.  After you clean it (no instructions on that, thankfully), you put it in a big pan with some grease.  Actually, you use two pans – I’m not sure if that’s because you have more than one possum, or maybe you have a side of ‘coon.  That’s as far as he got with the recipe.  It’s probably just as well.  I was glad to go home to my supper of chili and baked potato.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gentle Giant

Greyhounds can make excellent pet therapy dogs because they are so calm and mellow.  Their unflappable-ness was illustrated vividly one time when we visited “Mr. Thomas.”  He suffered from dementia and usually did not respond very much to the greyhounds.  One evening, however, was different.  As we approached Mr. Thomas, Cosmo stepped forward in a friendly manner.  All of a sudden, Mr. Thomas grabbed Cosmo around the snout and started squeezing!  I panicked inside, fearing that Cosmo might try to bite Mr. Thomas.  Outwardly, though, I calmly and gently loosened and removed Mr. Thomas’s fingers from Cosmo’s snout.  No harm was done, and Cosmo seemed unfazed.  It was as if Cosmo understood something about Mr. Thomas’s condition.  I think that greyhounds – and all animals – understand a lot more than we give them credit for.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Small Miracles

“Mrs. Hughes,” an Alzheimer’s patient at The Retreat, had difficulty communicating.  It had been a long time since I understood anything that she said.  However, during one of our visits, she pointed to Cosmo and said, “Brown.”  Then she pointed to Mr. Spock and said, “Whitish.”  She was exactly right because Cosmo is red fawn (essentially the same color as a deer), and Mr. Spock is white with brindle spots.  Who says that there aren’t any miracles these days?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Greyhounds & Grey Hairs

Greyhounds add fun to lots of activities.  I have walked in the woods with my greyhounds, taken them camping, run in dog jogs with them, and marched in parades with them.  The most fulfilling thing that I have done with my greyhounds, however, is pet therapy.  Once a month I take them to our local nursing home, The Retreat.  I affectionately call our outings Greyhounds & Grey Hairs.

Pet therapy in general is a wonderful thing; I have seen firsthand that residents who otherwise are not very engaged can come to life when they see a four-legged visitor.  Greyhounds in particular can be great pet therapy dogs.  First, their calm demeanor makes them well suited to be around elderly or sick people.  Also, someone in a hospital bed or wheelchair can more easily pet such a tall dog.

I was a little nervous when I first started Greyhounds & Grey Hairs.  I was going to visit people I didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure exactly what to say or do.  My fears soon disappeared.  A number of residents have had dogs earlier in their lives, and so they love getting to see any kind of dog now.  Also, because many people have never seen a greyhound before, that can be a great conversation starter.  It got easier and easier as the greyhounds and I started visiting with a lot of the same people each time.  It’s gotten to the point with many residents that they briefly say hello to the hounds, and then we launch into a conversation about what all has been going on with each other since our last visit.  It’s funny how the human-hound connection has fostered some pretty special human-human connections, too.

Over the years I have jotted down stories of some of my Greyhounds & Grey Hairs encounters.  During the next week I’ll share some of them.  Here’s one from the early days of Greyhounds & Grey Hairs:

Trooper was my first pet therapy dog as well as my first greyhound.  One day we entered the common room at The Retreat.  As usual, a number of residents were gathered, and Trooper and I started walking around.  We approached a man who had a rather mischievous grin.  He teased, “Is that a drug dog?”  Without missing a beat, I smiled and replied, “Why?  Are you worried?”

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Polyhound Farm

Robert and I didn’t set out to have multiple hounds, but we sure do enjoy our sweet, quirky pack.  In addition to our current three greyhounds (Cosmo, Lily, and Mr. Spock), we also have Shelly the beagle, whom we found nearly starved to death on a dirt road near our house.  Shelly is the best little dog, and conveniently, beagles are in the hound family, too.  I say conveniently because Robert and I named our homestead Polyhound Farm.  This is a tribute to Polyface Farm, the wonderfully robust and creative farm owned by Joel Salatin, a brilliant and unconventional farmer and author in Virginia.  I first learned of Joel Salatin in The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.

Racing greyhounds typically have been exposed only to other greyhounds, and so it’s important to determine how they interact with other types of animals that could be in their adoptive homes.  Southeastern Greyhound Adoption (SEGA) tests each of its greyhounds for cat tolerance and small dog tolerance.  SEGA has found that about 70 to 80% of its greyhounds are “cat tolerant.”  Greyhounds usually enjoy the company of other dog breeds.  Some greyhounds show great interest in small, fluffy dogs but generally do fine with them once they realize that that the little guys are dogs, too.  The biggest key is to introduce greyhounds and other animals slowly and cautiously.

Potential greyhound adopters complete a SEGA application, which includes questions about family lifestyle (level of activity, whether small children are in the home, etc.) and other pets.  This helps SEGA make the best possible match between adopter and greyhound.  For example, because I have no cats due to an allergy, SEGA would prefer to place a non-cat tolerant greyhound in my home.  However, 20-pound Shelly is a little beagle, and so my greyhounds have to be small-dog tolerant.  As you can see, they certainly are!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Rescue Dog's True Cost

This is pretty accurate for a SEGA greyhound, too!  The main thing is that they don't have grooming costs.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fourth Ride in A Year of Centuries - A Benefit for Southeastern Greyhound Adoption

Roo hoo!  Yesterday’s century for Southeastern Greyhound Adoption (SEGA) was great!  I actually got to help two charities at the same time.  I was riding for SEGA as part of A Year of Centuries, but the ride itself was hosted by some of my cycling friends to benefit Central Georgia Autism.  I’ll be doing this several times this year: riding in an organized century that benefits a particular charity while promoting a different one through A Year of Centuries.  I am more than happy to support Central Georgia Autism at the same time as SEGA.  Besides, it sure makes the logistics easier to have the fueling and mechanical support of an organized ride.

I really wanted to figure out a way to bring Lily as a greyhound representative to the ride, but I didn’t have any way to take care of her while I was out on the road.  So, instead I carried in my jersey pocket pictures of all of my greyhounds through the years:

It was almost a three-dog morning at the start of the century.  Nevertheless, it was foggy and beautiful:

I started out wearing leg warmers that had seen better days.  The elastic in them was shot, and they simply wouldn’t stay up.  At first I tried to pull them up while I was riding without making any jerky motions that might imperil my fellow riders.  Eventually, however, I abandoned all hope.  I let the leg warmers ooch down, where they gathered around my calves a la Flashdance.  Finally, at one of the rest stops I chucked them in the trash.  Fortunately, the day had warmed up a good bit by then.

One thing that made yesterday extra special is that I got to ride this century with Robert, my husband.  Of course, we had to take advantage of the great covered bridge photo op at the first rest stop:

As you can see, this was before I chucked the errant leg warmers.

It was a lot of fun as well as heartening to see so many friends from throughout the Macon cycling community at the ride.  Some did one of the shorter route options, but I got to ride with a lot of them in the century.  John Fry, a special cycling friend of mine, was there.  He and I were at Georgia Tech in the civil engineering program at the same time many moons ago.  We’ve stayed in touch over the years, but usually the only time we ever see each other is at the annual BBQ Bass Bicycle Ride that Robert and I host.  (BBQ Bass will be my June century this year!)  So, yesterday was a bonus ride with John.

I do have to mention that there was a crash yesterday.  Someone toward the back of our group touched wheels with someone else.  Several people went down, but the worst injured was Steve Sawyer.  He had a concussion and was taken to the hospital.  Please keep him in your prayers.  I hate to see anyone get hurt riding, but I especially hate that it was Steve because he sustained a bad injury in a crash last year, too.

After the first rest stop, our group split into two, a faster group and a slower group.  Having felt good up to that point, I continued with the faster group.  Mistake.  They ramped it up after the rest stop, and soon my heart rate monitor indicated that I was at level 4+.  This is sub-threshold, which by definition is not sustainable for multiple hours.  I didn’t pop, but I voluntarily went off the back, knowing that I needed to reduce my speed.  Happily, however, Robert and John kept riding with me.

My biggest challenge was the pollen.  I had noticed it a little bit during my March century in Dublin, but it hit me with a vengeance yesterday.  I tried to fight my way through it, letting my eyes try to water it away, but it just wasn’t working.  At least the pain in my eyes distracted me from any stress to my cardiovascular system or legs.  Ha ha!  Finally, I took John’s suggestion simply to take out my contacts.  I still couldn’t see, but at least it was for a different reason.  On the positive side, one way I kept myself going during the ride was by pondering the irony that I was riding for sight hounds, but I couldn’t see! (Unlike most breeds, greyhounds hunt primarily by sight rather than smell.)

The rest of the ride went wonderfully.  We even got back before lunch ran out.  I’m not sure whether there was anything else before we got there, but we did get chicken and rolls.  There was also a cooler full of a recovery drink that none of us had ever seen.  I was the only one brave enough to try it, and it turned out to be quite tasty, kind of like ginger ale.  I’d be a little hesitant to drink it, however, if my name were Cliff.

I “heart” chicken

The ride was staged at Sandy Beach at Lake Tobesofkee.  While we were out on the century, there were a number of fun events specially geared for children with autism (e.g., a bike rodeo and cupcake decorating).  We left before those events, and they were finished before we got back, but I hope that that part of the day was very successful.

I know of at least one donation to the greyhounds yesterday!  I tried to pay my friend Dale $20 that I owed him, but he told me to give it to the hounds.  So, when I got home, I made a $20 donation via PayPal at SEGA’s website

Thus, I gratefully completed my April century on behalf of SEGA.

But wait!  There’s more…

Originally, I had planned for my April century to be the Saturday ride of the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) Spring Tune Up (STU), which in recent years has been held in Madison, near my home.  (Saturday at the STU always has a century option.)  However, when my Macon cycling friends planned the Journey Ride for Autism, I wanted to support them, too.  The best solution I could come up with was to do my century at the Journey Ride on Saturday and then do the Sunday ride of the STU.  This was a great plan for several reasons.  First, it gave me a super duper training block in one weekend.  Best of all, however, it allowed me to meet the BRAG Dream Team, who will be my May charity!

Of course I’ll be posting all during May about the Dream Team, but to introduce them briefly now, they are young people from several towns across Georgia who aim to complete the week-long BRAG, which is held in June.  These young people generally come from rather difficult circumstances.  With self-discipline and caring guidance from adult mentors, they work toward their goals.  So, today I got to not only meet the Dream Team, I got to ride with one of the members!

My riding companion today was a most impressive young man.  He’s been on the Dream Team for several years and has ridden the full week of BRAG twice.  He serves as an assistant coach to the less experienced Dream Team members, and so they call him Ocma Knight.  (I’ll call him that here to respect the young people’s privacy.)  Ocma Knight, Coach Ash, another Dream Team member, and I set out on the 62-mile course this morning.  By the way, 62 miles is a metric century – kind of a century lite – which also makes it seem appropriate to add to April’s century report.

It was obvious right away that Ocma Knight was a good rider.  Coach Ash didn’t want him to have to hold back, and so he encouraged me to ride on with Ocma Knight while Coach Ash stayed with the other Dream Team member.  So, Ocma Knight and I continued on.  I thoroughly enjoyed having him as a riding companion.  He was such a smooth, steady rider.  Here we are at one of the rest stops:

Our route took us to the Rock Eagle 4H Center.  I suspected that Ocma Knight had never seen the Rock Eagle effigy there, and he readily agreed to pedal to the mound.  (That added a couple of miles to our route, and so we wound up riding a tad more than a metric century.)  Here’s a photo from the observation tower; I couldn’t quite fit in all of the eagle’s wings:

There was also a rest stop at the Steffen Thomas museum near Madison.  Steffen Thomas was a talented artist who worked in all kinds of media: sculpture, painting, tile mosaics, and even some textiles.  I became aware of his work because his son lives here in Monticello.  In fact, Robert and I even have a print of one of Steffen Thomas's paintings.  I enjoyed getting to see more of his pieces at the museum, and I’m glad that Ocma Knight likes art, too.

Ocma Knight and I rolled back into BRAG headquarters in Madison and met back up with the rest of the Dream Team.  Here’s a group shot:

I look forward to sharing more about the Dream Team in May.

My main greyhound connection on my ride today was that I carried the pictures of all my greyhounds with me again.  I had even more greyhound-ness later on.  This evening I took Lily and Mr. Spock on our monthly Greyhounds and Grey Hairs (pet therapy) visit to The Retreat, the local nursing home.  (More about Greyhounds and Grey Hairs later this week.)  What a fitting finale to a weekend for the greyhounds!

In this last picture I'm celebrating all four of my charities to date in A Year of Centuries; I'm holding greyhounds Lily and Mr. Spock, I'm wearing my Bicycles for Humanity bracelet from Namibia, I'm wearing my math TOMS shoes in honor of MATHCOUNTS, and I have a well healed face and jaw like that I wish for the Face to Face patients.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ideal Hound

Trooper, our first greyhound, really got us hooked.  In addition to being very affectionate, he was always ready for any outing.  Also, he loved to catch balls and Frisbees, which is not very common among greyhounds.  Trooper was just an all-around great dog.  One time at a local dog show that was a Relay for Life fundraiser, Trooper won Best Personality and Best in Show.  Even though Trooper has been gone for a long time now, Robert and I still refer to him as Ideal Hound.

Here’s another cool thing about Trooper: his head looked just like a bicycle seat!

Thus, one of Trooper’s many nicknames was Bicycle Seat Head.  (I can’t help but give multiple nicknames to those closest to me, whether they are two-legged or four-legged.)

Jerry Goldin, a friend of ours who is a retired state trooper, was so impressed that we had a dog named Trooper that Jerry gave him a real Georgia State Patrol patch.  I sewed it onto a bandana, which Trooper often wore when we went somewhere.

Thank you, Trooper, for introducing us to the Wonderful World of Greyhounds (or is it the Cult of Greyhound?).  You helped us understand why greyhounds are like Lay’s potato chips: no one can have just one!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Greyhound FAQs

A few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about retired racing greyhounds (from the SEGA website):

How big are Greyhounds?
Females weigh between 50 and 65 pounds and stand 23 to 26 inches at the shoulder, while males weigh between 65 and 85 pounds and stand 26 to 30 inches at the shoulder. Although Greyhounds are not small dogs, many adopters report that they are almost cat-like inside their homes in that the dogs seek a quiet corner from which to enjoy the company of their humans.

How old are the Greyhounds that are available for adoption?
The average age range of our former racers is 3 to 4 years old. Some are retired as early as age 2, while others stop racing at the mandatory retirement age of 5. Some people enjoy older dogs, and we occasionally have Greyhounds in the 8 to 10 year range available for adoption.

How long do Greyhounds live?
The normal life expectancy of a Greyhound is 12 to 14 years.

Are Greyhounds outside dogs?
No. While Greyhounds love romping and frolicking outside, they have very little body fat and thin skin, and are very susceptible to extremes of cold and hot temperatures. At the track, Greyhounds live inside in heated and air-conditioned kennels. So between play or "potty" visits outside, Greyhounds need to be primarily inside house pets.

Are the former racers housebroken?
In the racing kennels, Greyhounds sleep and eat in large crates, and are trained not to soil their crates. In the pet home, housebreaking is simply a matter of training the Greyhound that your home is a large crate. If you follow a regular routine of outside visits, housebreaking is usually easily accomplished.

Are Greyhounds good with children?
The answer depends on the children--and the parents. It's impossible to make a blanket statement and say that all ex-racers are good with children. But it's hard to say that they're not because there are many families with children and Greyhounds doing just fine. It must be remembered that these are adult dogs that may never have been exposed to small children and their high-pitched voices and quick movements. While Greyhounds are, as a breed, very tolerant and sweet natured, and would usually rather walk away than snap, they do have their limits, just as does any breed. Children MUST be taught the proper respect for the dog, and not become overbearing in their actions toward the dog, particularly as it relates to the Greyhound's personal space.

Are Greyhounds high strung?
No - just the opposite, in fact. Docile and low key, Greyhounds are often described by their adopters as very laid-back. Aggressiveness has been bred out of racing Greyhounds because they can be disqualified from the track if they even turn their heads during a race. They wear muzzles while racing to help make their noses appear more prominent and assist the racing officials in determining the winner of a "photo finish."

Do Greyhounds need lots of room to run?
While Greyhounds do love to run (and it's thrilling to watch!), they need no more exercise than any other dog. A nice long walk on the leash three or four times a week is recommended (and it's good for humans, too!). Many adopters have discovered that Greyhounds make great jogging companions, while others enjoy finding fenced areas to let their Greyhounds really stretch out. While a fenced yard is ideal for both Greyhounds and their owners, it is by no means a requirement. Many, many former racers have found happy homes in apartments and condominiums.

Can I let my Greyhound walk with me off lead?
Only in completely fenced areas. Greyhounds have been bred to chase for thousands of years. Because of this genetic make-up, even the most obedient Greyhound will not come when called if he sees a rabbit or squirrel to chase. They will pursue their quarry oblivious to their surroundings, including cars or the distance they have run from their owners. For that reason, adopters must agree in their adoption contract that they will never allow their Greyhound off lead in any unfenced area.

Do Greyhounds make good watchdogs?
No. Greyhounds bark very little, and usually are as friendly with strangers as they are with their own family. Greyhounds' sizes may intimidate potential "bad guys," but that's about the extent of their protective abilities.

Do Greyhounds have any genetic abnormalities common to the breed?
Because racing Greyhounds are bred exclusively for function and temperament rather than to emphasize a particular "look," they have no genetic-related abnormalities. For example, they have one of the lowest incidences of hip dysplasia of all the breeds. Greyhounds' low percentage of body fat makes them somewhat sensitive to some anesthesia agents, but there are commonly used anesthetics that are safe for Greyhounds. Adopters should discuss anesthesia requirements with their veterinarian and make sure that he is familiar with Greyhound sensitivities in this area. Greyhounds should not wear flea collars, but the new flea treatments like Advantage and Frontline are safe for them.

How much do Greyhounds eat?
We recommend 2 to 4 cups of a premium dry dog food per day for former racers. Ideal "pet weight" for Greyhounds is no more than 5 pounds over their registered racing weight, and we always urge adopters to resist the temptation to "fatten up that skinny Greyhound" by feeding him as much as he will eat. Greyhounds can be "chow hounds," but will hold the right weight very well if fed a moderate amount of a good dog food.

Do Greyhounds need much grooming or bathing? Do they shed much?
Very little, on both counts. Because Greyhounds have little oil in their skin, they have no "doggy odor," and stay sweet smelling for long periods between baths. Their coats are short and sleek, making Greyhounds very low maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming. While we wouldn't go so far as to characterize Greyhounds as hypoallergenic, many Greyhound adopters who have previously had allergic reactions to other breeds of dogs report that they have no trouble with a Greyhound in their home.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Make a Fast Friend…Adopt a Greyhound!

Greyhounds are one of the best parts of my life.  I was first introduced to greyhounds when I was at Georgia Tech.  One of my fellow civil engineering students posted flyers about greyhound adoption on the main bulletin board.  Also, she sometimes brought a greyhound to class.  I learned of the need for greyhounds to find homes when they finish their racing careers, and I saw firsthand what loving companions they are.  I really wanted to adopt a greyhound!

Robert and I got married the year after I got out of Georgia Tech.  At the time I had a sweet cocker spaniel, but Robert was willing to adopt a greyhound, too.  Just two months after we got married, we adopted Trooper, our first greyhound, and we’ve had at least one greyhound ever since then.  That was nearly 18 years ago.

We got involved with Southeastern Greyhound Adoption (SEGA), an all-volunteer group that finds homes for as many greyhounds as possible.  SEGA transports greyhounds from the racetrack; makes sure that they are spayed/neutered, get their shots, and receive any other needed veterinary treatment; cares for them at its kennels and in foster homes until adoptions are completed; manages the adoption process and follow-up; and promotes adoption through meet-and-greets.  Additionally, through SEGA’s parent organization, the Southeastern Greyhound Club, adopters can enjoy activities with their greyhounds like pet therapy and social events.

Like people, each greyhound has his or her own personality (doggone-ality?).  These are Robert’s and my greyhounds through the years.  We have loved them all.

Trooper (born 1992; adopted 1995; died 2003)

Walker (born 1995; adopted 2000; died 2002)

Cosmo (born 2000; adopted 2003)

Mr. Spock (born 2003; adopted 2004)

Annieray (fostered 2007)

Hyatt (fostered 2008)

Woofie Wags (fostered 2010) with Shelly the beagle

Lily (born 2002; fostered 2010; adopted 2011)

Think a greyhound might be right for you?  Visit SEGA’s web page at, or come to a meet & greet.  If you can’t adopt now, consider sponsoring a greyhound.  Your donation will help care for a greyhound until he/she finds a forever home.