Retirement can be sweet for greyhounds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 8, 2006

They can run like the wind, but when their running days are over, most are not put out to pasture to a relaxing retirement.

Most are euthanized.

&#8220Retired greyhounds are some of the gentlest dogs you could ever have as a pet,” Charles Sipper of Rutledge said. &#8220My grandson, who is two years old, sleeps on them just like they're a pillow.”

Sipper is referring to Tater, an eight-year-old black greyhound, and Ace, a white and tan fellow who is six.

&#8220These two raced in Florida, and my son and daughter-in-law bought them in South Carolina in 2002.”

Joshua and Rachel Sipper, who live in Montgomery, have a fenced yard. The greyhounds stay inside most of the time.

Charles Sipper, who refers to Ace and Tater as his &#8220granddogs,” said that the hounds have to stay slim because if they get overweight, it could break the dogs' legs when they run.

&#8220You can't overfeed them, that's for sure,” he said.

On this particular morning, he was taking the pair to E.L. Turner Park for a good run.

The prime age to race a greyhound is around two to three years old.

&#8220Most of the dogs are retired by the age of four,” Sipper said. &#8220They try to adopt all they can, but otherwise, the greyhounds are put to sleep.”

&#8220If the dog is not making any money, it's useless to the greyhound track,” he added.

The normal lifespan of a greyhound is around 16 years.

Sipper said that since the dogs have always led a confined life, they are accustomed to being indoors.

&#8220If you let them out, they'll run off, and they won't be able to find their way back home.”

He admitted that they had gotten away from him more than once.

&#8220If they get loose, you have to chase them in a vehicle; you can't do it on foot because they can run up to 40 miles per hour,” he said.

&#8220I've had to chase them a couple of times,” he added, laughing.

Sipper said that anyone who was interested in adopting retired greyhounds should check online for greyhound adoption agencies.

&#8220Any greyhound you get from them would be spayed or neutered and would be house-trained,” he said.

As the two gentle giants waited eagerly for Sipper's commands, he laughed and said, &#8220The only time they get really excited is when you ask them if they want to go for a walk.”

&#8220Isn't that what retirement is all about?”