Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I’m 77?

Blue, Bettina and Winslow greyhound
A scrum of greyhounds.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness and a renewal of faith in the innate goodness of humanity.  I have to say that for us it was a mixed bag.  We got a call from someone (we’ll call him Mr. Rescuer) just before Christmas.  He had gotten our number from a friend of his who lives near us and knows we are involved with greyhounds.

The reason he was calling is because he had found a male greyhound and didn’t want to send him to the pound.  He was hoping we could help.  Mr. Rescuer said that he had watched the greyhound sleep in an open field for two nights prior to his taking it in.  A canvass of the houses in the neighborhood of the field turned up no one who was willing to admit to ownership.  For those of you who don’t know much about Maine, it’s pretty cold here in the winter.  Though we’ve been having a “warm spell,” that equates to days in the 40s and nights in the 20s-30s.   If you can’t conceive of that, try
sleeping in your refrigerator for a night with no clothes on.

After speaking with Mr. Rescuer, he said he had no problem keeping the lost greyhound until after Christmas.  The greyhound was warm and safe and being fed.   They had taken a shine to him.  After Christmas we arranged for the kids and I to go and pick up the hound.  We would transport him to the Maine Greyhound Placement Service where he would be identified and cared for. 

Bettina and Winslow greyhound
Things are always a little less scary with a friend.
We arrived on the appointed day and time to meet the wandering grey and got our first shock.  He was a sweet, sweet old grey.  He had cataracts and a white face.  When I was finally able to get a look at his ear tattoo, I discovered he was 11 years old.  He was also clearly underweight with bones and ribs poking out all over.  His nails looked like they hadn’t been tended to for some time.  None the less, he was a happy boy and had taken a liking to Mr. Rescuer and Mr. Rescuer’s father.  I think the liking was mutual but unfortunately Mr. Rescuer had an elderly cat and they did not feel they could disrupt the cat’s world by moving a canine into the house.   They were definitely sorry to see this loving baby leave.

But the greyhound didn’t balk at all about hopping up into my car with Blue and Bettina as company.  That was how Mr. Rescuer got him home.  He opened his truck door and invited the wayward grey to jump in, which he did.  As we were driving to MGPS, Blue, Bettina and our guest got comfortable with each other and soon were curled into one big pile with three heads and three tails.  The folks at MGPS were awaiting us when we arrived. 

In the back of the car
And if 1 friend is good, then 2 friends are better!
The first thing they did was weigh this poor old fellow.  He weighed in at only 60 pounds.  He was slightly smaller than Blue but Blue weighs in at 75 lbs and I keep him on the thin side.  This old guy should have been somewhere between 70-75 lbs.  He was at least 10 lbs lighter than he should have been.  On a greyhound that 10 lbs makes a big difference.

He got his nails clipped and a thorough going over by the medical staff.  In the meantime others checked his ear tattoos and his microchip.  They discovered that he had originally been an MGPS hound.  His name was Winslow and indeed when he was addressed as such, he clearly knew who we were talking about.  Once he was released from his medical check he made a beeline straight to the comfy fluffy bed in the corner of the room.  You could almost hear him groan as he settled
Winslow gets checked over
Winslow gets checked over by everyone, including Cider.
himself into the softness.

Winslow held court from the bed, not moving from it during the time I was still at MGPS.   We learned that not only was Winslow 11 years old, he had raced in Raynham MA and had first been adopted in 2007.  Blue is 11 years old and HE raced at Raynham as well (probably they raced there at the same time).  I adopted my Big Poppy in 2007.  The parallels between this poor skinny neglected hound and my own best boy were so striking.  Since I cannot ever conceive of doing such a thing to any hound in my care let alone an 11 year old who had been nothing but loving, I felt pretty sick to my stomach that anyone else would. 

I imagined Blue out in that field.  My Blue who loves and asks for nothing more than a soft place to lie down and a nice big dinner and some treats.  The first thing Blue does in any new place is greet all the people and then find the softest place available to lie down.  Blue wears a light fleece coat in the
Winslow has his microchip checked
A soft place for old bones.
house in the winter and a coat and snood over that when he goes outside because his old bones get cold so much easier than a younger hound.  He has memory foam bedding to make sure he’s comfortable.  He has an electric blanket in his crate to make sure he stays nice and warm at night.  Any greyhound who reaches the venerable age of 11 deserves to be pampered and loved an extra measure.

How could someone be so cruel and so heartless to put any dog out like that,  let alone one who is more vulnerable because of his breed and age? 

We got a call from MGPS later that day after we had returned home.  They let us know that they had tracked down and spoken with the original adopters and pieced together a story of divorce and the handing off of Winslow to someone else who clearly didn’t care for the dog.  Winslow will stay at MGPS where he’ll be fattened up and spoiled for awhile and then put up for adoption. 

If there is any sort of god, Winslow will spend his last years in a loving home being spoiled rotten.  Good things will come to Mr. Rescuer and his father for saving Winslow from a worse fate.  And there is a special corner of hell reserved for whoever turned that greyhound out into that freezing field.

Post Script:  There has been more contact with the person who took Winslow after the divorce.  He says that Winslow escaped during a visit from the UPS man.  He has offered to pay treatment and dental costs and any other costs to have him returned.  I have some personal doubts about how hard anyone searched for Winslow given at least 2 days having elapsed since his escape and 5 more days elapsing while in the care of Mr. Rescuer and no posters up as well as his being so underweight and teeth and nails neglected.  But it certainly can happen that a moments inattention can result in something terrible like this happening.  I hope for Winslow's sake, and for the sake of my faith in humanity that this is all true and it has a happy ending.  


  1. Hmm, I share your doubts about Winslow going back to his owner. I hope he gets to spend his golden years being pampered, not neglected.

  2. Maybe Winslow needs to be in the greyhound witness protection program!

  3. I can think of a lot of what ifs there. A person inexperienced with Greyhounds suddenly getting one might not realize that nail cutting needed to be done (I grew up on a farm with dogs who never got their nails cut because they naturally wore them down) and weight loss can happen in older Greys no matter how much you feed them. That was true with Lilac. I thought I'd pull my hair out at times over that dog. I'm not saying that Winslow's condition was okay, it wasn't and I'd be horrified about it, too, but I can see where it could happen with a person who was uneducated about the breed and had good intentions but no knowledge. I hope that no matter what happens, Winslow will enjoy his later years in comfort with someone who loves him deeply!

  4. What a very sad story. I understand how things happen and dogs escape etc, but I would be very wary of handing Winslow back, I think. Is there any way you can do so on a conditional basis so that you get to follow up with him over the course of a year and if at any point he's not looking 100% you can get him back?

    I'm a great believer in keeping dogs with their people if possible and of giving people a chance, but not at the expense of the dog. Poor old guy. I want him to never have to suffer that again. If I were nearer, I'd take the old fellow. I'm sure he'd fit in just fine with my (extremely spoiled) old boys!

  5. It's true what Houndstooth says, though. The oldies can lose condition frighteningly fast. My Jeffie is like that. He's the thinnest dog we've ever had and yet he eats like a horse and has nothing but the best in unlimited quantity.

    1. It is a sad story and I am personally very torn about what the best thing to do is. I don't know if a conditional return is an option but I like that idea. I agree that keeping dogs with their people is usually the best thing. And a lot of times mistakes that are made are made because someone didn't know. I also agree with you and Houndstooth that older hounds can lose condition very quickly and due to no malicious actions on the part of their people. Fox, who just passed, was a very good example of this. He was frightfully underweight but, like Jeffie, despite all sorts of extra food (and a resorting to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a "snack") we were only able to put a tiny bit of weight back on him. It's just very difficult to know what the right thing is. And my sticking point continues to be how little was done to find him after he escaped. This is the sweetest old man (hound) that I've ever met. I want his remaining time to be comfortable and I want him to be spoiled like crazy. I guess in the end I'm glad that it is not me making the final decision as to what becomes of Winslow. That is such a heavy responsibility and I know that I don't have the answers.


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