For the week of August 26 thru September 1, 1998  

Emotional Rescue

Greyhound adoption comes to Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

The National Geographic special showed wheelbarrows filled with the carcasses of murdered greyhounds.

Candy Funk was stunned.

The carnage was disheartening. These good-natured, beautiful dogs were killed after only three to five years of running their hearts out around a track in Colorado, Texas or Idaho.

Their short lives were lived in a crate, with a muzzle and only two walks a day. Their diet was generally only raw meat, which lead to gum disease and pain.

"It was so sad," she said. "They have no life at the track. They’re just a number and then they’re killed. For a while a big thing was selling them to research labs. It’s not legal, but it’s done. They’ve changed the laws, now they put them to sleep."

Or, with the advent of organizations like Greyhound Pets and Greyhound Rescue, the dogs are now available for adoption.

Greyhound Rescue of Idaho is coming to Ketchum Saturday along with dogs available for adoption. Oliver’s Animal Center on First Avenue will host the canines from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., then the group moves to Chapter One Bookstore on Main Street from 1 to 2 p.m.

Greyhounds are polite, sweet, affectionate dogs that do well with people and other animals. They have very little hair or body fat, so must be kept as indoor house pets.

The sleek dogs can run up to 42 mph, and can get to that speed very quickly, so they must be kept in a safely fenced area or on a special greyhound leash and collar. They are sensitive, loving and the most forgiving of all animals.

They date back 8,000 years to the time of the Pharaohs and until the 19th century were only allowed to be owned by royalty. King Tut, Cleopatra and General Custer were all owners. Frederick the Great of Prussia asked to be buried with his greyhound.

Funk wanted to help an animal and become an owner, too. She contacted Greyhound Pets and applied to adopt a retired racer. It wasn’t long before she found herself in Boise waiting for her dog’s flight to arrive from Coeur d’Alene.

"Nicky is just a love," she said of the brindle-colored, friendly female. "She’s a part of our family. She has her own little corner in my room and her own space in the backyard. We got a second dog, a mutt named Cowboy, who she loves to play with. Nicky just likes to lay down and have somebody near."

According to Greyhound Pets, greyhounds were bred with four goals in mind– speed, health, intelligence and sociability. They are kennel trained, but may require a little house breaking and medical care. They seldom bark, do not cause allergies, and do not sweat or have doggy odor.

When Candy brought Nicky home to meet her husband and two small children, her husband, Jim, was initially convinced she’d taken leave of her senses.

"He was horrified," she laughed. "But now he’s cool."

The children, Sam and Lexi, had to learn to respect Nicky’s space and not to make any sudden movements. Now they enjoy walking her around the block a time or two or on the bike path.

"She’s great on a lead, but you can’t let her run," Funk explained. "Greyhounds are sight hounds, and if they see a squirrel far away, they’ll run and not let anything get in their way."

Greyhounds can not be let free. They have no street smarts and will run until killed by a car or stopped by a fence. They run so fast and so far, they lose their way home. The one time Nicky went free, the mistake of a baby-sitter, she ran until she was bit by a rattlesnake– in Hailey.

A trip to the vet was in order, and Funk found Dr. Karsten Fostvedt, who once had a greyhound himself and was aware of the animals’ sensitivity to anesthesia. The dog was resilient and soon OK.

Nicky was very timid for her first six months with the Funks. Lots of TLC brought her around, and now she loves people.

"She gets so excited to see some of my friends when they come over that she bowls them over," laughed Funk. "But greyhounds are really gentle dogs."

Funk highly recommends adopting a racer, but warns they’re not for everyone.

"If you have a small condo and nowhere for the dog to run around, it’s not a good idea," Funk said. "And, the animals have to be cat-tested and children tested through placement in a temporary foster home. They also have to be introduced to glass and stairs."

Author and resident Elise Lufkin has been instrumental in getting Greyhound Rescue of Idaho to come to Ketchum Saturday. She met representatives at a book signing she did at Barnes and Noble in Boise and, as a true animal lover, there was never any question she would help.

The adoption fee is $150 and includes spay/neuter, teeth cleaning and all vaccinations. For more in formation, call (208) 377-0645 or 377-8057.

Nicky will be at Oliver’s checking out the adoptions.


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