Greyhound Welfare (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Greyhound Welfare

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:38:10
In the first part of the show, we heard about some actual dogs, the regions coyotes. Now, we got to the dogs once more by focusing on a particular canine which, through history, has been more or less a sign of status. Pharaohs kept these animals in ancient Egypt. English Gentry strolled through London with them on leashes. But the Greyhound's place in society, it's changed and as Lauren Hodges tell us, a local adoption group is working to find these dogs safe, loving homes.

MS. LAUREN HODGES

13:38:41
Bred from birth to be a racing champion, the tall, slender Greyhound can dash up to 40 miles an hour on its long legs. But you might say, a champ's day is all work and no play.

MR. DON SPELLMAN

13:38:51
They have this very set, you know, routine. You know, they turn them out on the same schedule every day, they have a race, you know, maybe once or several times a week.

HODGES

13:39:00
And as Don Spellman points out, once a Greyhound reaches retirement age, usually two years old, it can face a lifetime without routine and seemingly without purpose. Spellman is the President of Greyhound Welfare, a foster care organization that has placed more than 900 dogs in the DMV since 2002. He and his wife, Diane, live in Woodbridge, Va. and didn't know a lot about Greyhounds before they got involved.

SPELLMAN

13:39:23
And as it so happened, it was a neighbor who had adopted a Grey in a flea market in Florida and actually ended up returning.

HODGES

13:39:30
Spellman and his wife found the organization online and contacted the founder, Kopal Barnouin-Jha. And she said...

SPELLMAN

13:39:36
Well, if you guys are wanting to foster them -- and that's sort of how the story began. So fostered him.

SPELLMAN

13:39:42
Today, they own two Greyhounds, a 12-year-old male named Journey and a 9-year-old lady named Topaz. Journey broke his leg on the track in his glory days and has to have regular physical therapy. In fact, they just returned from a session this afternoon.

SPELLMAN

13:39:56
He got the ice pack and the massage and some funny exercises. We're trying to -- try to help this old man -- old man work.

HODGES

13:40:06
Journey rises shyly from his bed to introduce himself.

SPELLMAN

13:40:10
Journey, come here, come here.

HODGES

13:40:10
You can see he's limping slightly.

SPELLMAN

13:40:13
Here puppy. Here puppy. Would you like to say hello to the camera?

HODGES

13:40:17
Spellman attributes Greyhound Welfare success to the people who donate their time and homes to give these dogs a second life.

SPELLMAN

13:40:23
That's a big group. I mean, we have, like, over a 100 volunteers, dozens of foster homes. Where you going, Journey? That's what really makes it possible for us to help as many dogs as we -- to be in charge, you know, you really need great people.

HODGES

13:40:37
Spellman says Greyhound adoption began as a cause in the mid 1990s when people began to ask what happened to the dogs after they stopped winning at the tracks. He says most dogs were euthanized because they'd exceeded their use to humans and weren't viewed as ideal pets.

SPELLMAN

13:40:51
They haven't been around children. They haven't been around other animals, other dogs. They never experienced all the things that go on in a home, from vacuum cleaners to automobiles to everything else.

HODGES

13:41:03
And Spellman says that's precisely why these dogs need an adoption organization of their own.

SPELLMAN

13:41:08
Our job as a group and by fostering the dogs, we kind of start their orientation to home life, you know, living in one of our foster parents homes. That's a very important process.

HODGES

13:41:17
But as Spellman will tell you, the hard work isn't without its perks.

SPELLMAN

13:41:20
I mean, these dogs are just -- they're just such sweet, gentle creatures. They have such a nice disposition. They just make such wonderful companions.

HODGES

13:41:29
And as with any charitable activity, Spellman says a sense of fulfillment comes from giving a previously neglected population a new chance at happiness.

SPELLMAN

13:41:37
You know, sort of the added bonus is the fact that these are rescues. You know, these are dogs who we've, you know, provided an opportunity to come into a home and make the transition from track life.

HODGES

13:41:49
Topaz finds a spot next to her owner and plops down on the carpet with a satisfied groan. She's regale and beautiful, carrying the dignity that made her breed such a hot commodity for centuries. There's no more finish line to chase for these loyal companions. Here they are content to sit and stay. I'm Lauren Hodges.

SHEIR

13:42:08
To see photos of Journey, Topaz and their fellow Greyhounds, visit our website, metroconnection.org. You can find more information about Greyhound Welfare there, too.
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