Life with Tyler, a retired racing greyhound

Tyler relaxing by the fireplace!
Tyler relaxing by the fireplace!

By Vanessa Costa

I have to give all the credit to my husband, Bill, for adopting Tyler, our retired racing greyhound, seven years ago. We wanted to get a dog, but with both of us working, I was concerned about how much time we could devote to a pet. Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton was having their semi-annual Open House and before hand my husband visited their website (www.greyhound.org) and immediately fell for one red brindle greyhound named Tyler.

I still remember Tyler being escorted over to us by Michael McCann, his “foster father.” He was very aloof, but obedient, as he took a nice long walk with us. Before you know it, my husband said to Mike – “we’ll take him.”

Since we owned a business, we were able to bring Tyler to the office with us every day. He adapted quite well to an office environment with the telephones ringing all day, fax machines humming, visitors, etc. At home we did not have a big yard for him to run around, but Tyler did not mind. We soon learned that he just wanted to cuddle up with us. I was also impressed that he did not jump up on the furniture and had no interest in chewing anything. The other surprising thing was that he did not bark.

Two years later we had our first child, Vangella, and moved to a new home in Holden with a good size yard and more of a neighborhood setting for him to take quiet walks. It took him about two weeks to get adjusted to the new home. He also adjusted very well to our daughter and had no issue with a baby crying.

Well, seven years has passed now and Tyler is a big part of our family. Like most of us, he loves routine and has become very confident. Over time we actually encouraged him to bark, so now if he wants something he will tell us with one bark, sometimes two. Tyler came to us with a leg injury and metal plates in his back right leg, so he really never wanted to run or take long walks. He is just very content laying around doing nothing. Our daughter has also learned to adapt to life with Tyler. At 5 she is up to speed on all things she can and cannot do with him. At age 2 or 3 she would sometimes get in his face or run around him a little too much. So,Tyler gently barked in her face a couple times sending her a message that enough is enough. Since then, she knows the limitations.

The other items we learned is that he is protective of his sleep space. So, if you are going to approach him on his bed, make sure he knows you are coming. Do not surprise him. He definitely does not like surprises and loud noises. If there are children playing outside, making a lot of noise he prefers to go back inside the house.

As we all age, we sometimes slow down with things we used to do quite naturally. The same has been true for Tyler. This past winter he refused to jump in my car for work each morning. I could not imagine what was wrong, as normally he could not wait to go with me each day. This went on day after day until I had to leave him at home.

He also started to hesitate on climbing the stairs in the house. We have been very lucky with Tyler. Despite the fact that he had a bad leg, there have been no other medical issues. He has been one very easy pet to have around, only requiring love and affection.

These days Tyler has a new daily routine of staying home. Fortunately, he is not alone, as my daughter is still only in preschool. So there is someone in the house all day with him. He is very happy but we limit his stair activity. We purchased a doggie ramp, but did not have much success in training him to use it.

Whenever people ask us about greyhounds, I tell them how wonderful, intelligent and loving they are. They are not what you would expect, and indeed just looking for a friendly quiet spot to call home. Their lives at the racetrack are not very good. So just about any other environment would make them happy. They are funny, silly, crazy and most of all sweet and loyal.

Daily life with Tyler has proven to be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. I highly recommend greyhounds to all families, you will not be disappointed. Please visit greyhoundfriends.org and take a chance on one of these sweet pets.