Quick tips from greyhound lovers: A how-to workshop on doggy first-aid

Playful encounters and wet kisses are just a few of the delightful perks of canine ownership, along with unconditional love and companionship. Then there’s the icing on the cake: big, soulful eyes expressing adoration and contentment.

Our love affair with man’s best friend has always been an integral part of the American experience—birthday parties, chic clothes and holiday portraits are de rigueur for many dog owners. 

As with children, however, our most fervent wish is for their health and well-being.

To that end, dog owners may want to dash over to Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe this Friday, Jan. 21, when greyhound owner Debi Woodman will be sharing her expertise in canine first aid. Representing Fast Dog, Fast Friends Greyhound Adoption, the volunteer organization she heads, Woodman will be dispensing valuable first-hand knowledge that can save hours of needless fretting over symptoms such as fevers, rashes, wounds, lethargy or ticks. 

Attendees will glean information on bandaging dogs, in addition to news on safe over-the-counter medications. Discussions will also touch on the importance of building an animal first-aid kit that should include items like Neosporin and Betadine, staples of any well-stocked medicine cabinet. There’s another “must have” staple as well that begins with the letter G, but you’ll have to attend the seminar to find out.

“One of the most important things we can do for canine first aid,” says Woodman, “is keeping a log of everything you’re doing. This way you save the vet a lot of time and energy; they know what you’ve already tried.” 

As a devoted greyhound “mom” of six, Woodman also will use the occasion to educate her audience on why greyhounds make such stellar therapy dogs and family pets. 

“These are such big, sweet, gentle dogs; absolute ‘cuddle bugs’ for kids,” she says. They are also excellent with seniors, since they are so docile and shy.” 

Attendees will be able to judge for themselves, with four of Woodman’s greyhounds joining her for the program.

According to Woodman, the breed is more than 6,000 years old— the oldest domesticated canine, often referred to as “hunting dogs of the Pharaohs.” 

Greyhounds are also known as the “hounds of history.” Owned by Cleopatra and King Henry VIII, the breed is mentioned in the King James version of the Bible.

Woodman’s group, launched four years ago with the help of her husband and two committed friends, helps to keep bring modern-day relevancy to the breed with origins in history.

Since its launch in 2001, organizers say, the group has placed more than 350 retired greyhounds in loving homes. The goals for this year are to find adoptive “parents” for 120 more dogs, to develop an emergency medical savings account for their care and to expand the number of volunteers.

Woodman has had more than 125 foster greyhounds in her home in a span of five years and has been doing canine adoption work since graduating from college in 1982. 

She decided to tackle this immense project after owning her own greyhounds for a year and a half. “I wanted to find good homes for these animals” she says, “and make sure that they were well cared for once they were retired from the racing industry.”

Versatile pets
When discussing the versatility of greyhounds, Woodman loves to stress the ease with which the dogs relate to each other. She relates that, because they are used to being together, the dogs don’t have any barking or growling issues.

According to Woodman, up to 10 years ago, many greyhounds were destroyed. Public outcry and opinion has since propelled breeders and owners to get more involved with the placement process. As such, the majority of greyhounds now end up in one of the nine adoption programs in the state.

The fortunate “adoptees” involve a lifetime commitment. That’s the concept Woodman and her organization want to spread. 

“We’re concentrating on how stable the dog’s environment will be,” she says. “Unfortunately, pets are a disposable commodity, according to many. If it’s inconvenient to move across the country, the pet typically has to go.”

Woodman knows that families with fewer transition problems are less likely to give up their dogs. To ensure a seamless transition, her organization provides guidance and support to families via frequent phone check ups. 

Time to play
There are several opportunities during the year for the dogs to romp and cavort with each other as well. The group sponsors different events for dogs and owners, such as the recent greyhound birthday party held at a Scottsdale park. 

Replete with the dogs, their adoptive parents and other assorted greyhound lovers, the event included a human birthday cake, dog cake (made of liver), games and prizes.

Domestic life can be overwhelming for these shy, reserved dogs, who have never encountered stairs before. According to Woodman, greyhounds have very structured and disciplined lives in the kennel environment.

What lies ahead for a greyhound that’s just retired? According to Woodman, they get “the works” before being eligible for adoption. First, dogs go directly to the vet’s office where they are spayed or neutered. A microchip is implanted to make identification easier if the dog gets loose and is picked up by a shelter. 

The dogs are then brought up to date on vaccines, plus tested for heartworm or any kind of internal parasites. The final touch is a thorough tooth polishing. 

To find out more about adopting these sleek, sweet and lovable animals, contact the organization at (623) 773-0534. 

Or you can visit the website at www.fastdogs-fastfriends.com to see pictures of all the dogs in the program and, if interested, start the adoption process. 

Remember, there are also 25 foster homes across the Valley. Call if you would like to temporarily open your home to one of these dogs.

Changing Hands bookstore is located at 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. (480) 730-0205. Lecture is at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21. 

Free, but donations are welcomed.