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Book Review
Adopting the Racing Greyhound
by Cynthia Branigan

Review by: Kate Connick, March 2003

If you want to adopt a Greyhound that has been retired from the racetrack, Cynthia Branigan's Adopting the Racing Greyhound is required reading. Literally. Many Greyhound adoption organizations require potential adopters to read this book as a prerequisite to adoption, and it is easy to understand why.

Approximately 150 pages long, this paperback book is well organized, well indexed, simply written, and cuts to the heart of what anyone needs to know about bringing home a Greyhound. Not merely a cookie-cutter book that discusses Greyhounds in "any dog" terms, this content-rich book is full of very breed-specific information. To her credit, Branigan has the gift of succinct yet informative writing. Her devotion for these animals is obvious.

Branigan presents a brief history of Greyhounds, describes the typical life of a modern day racing dog, and explores Greyhound character and care requirements. She comments on a wide variety of breed-related concerns, ranging from drug sensitivities to a propensity for reflexive snapping if awakened abruptly. Management tips including crate-training, collar selection, and advice on teaching dogs to negotiate linoleum floors are included.

In this second edition, Branigan sensitively examines the interactions between children and Greyhounds and makes special comments regarding hypothyroidism and tick-borne diseases. I do consider it a noteworthy omission that she discusses neither bloat nor bone cancer, given their relatively high incidence in the breed.

The story she relates of an obedience-trained, ordinarily reliable hound who impulsively bolts from the park one day only to be killed in traffic is chilling and utterly convincing that Greyhounds require leashes. "We can only hope that when he ran between two parked cars and into the path of a bus that his death was swift and painless."

It is hard to fault this comprehensive yet concise overview of Greyhound ownership. Although appropriately illustrated with black and white photos, the book's eye appeal could certainly be enhanced with color illustrations. The Appendix, which contains a lengthy resource list of Greyhound organizations, is probably the most vulnerable part of the book, as that information tends to become outdated rapidly. For that reason, as well as due to some content improvements, the book's second edition is superior to the original.

I consider the relatively neutral tone a strength, but some Greyhound aficionados will resent the author's failure to head-on denounce the racing industry and assail its cruelties. My feeling is that the book remains true to its focus as an adoption guide by maintaining an apolitical demeanor. The author does allude to cruelties (track injuries, euthanasia of retirees, raw diets, tick-borne diseases, etc.) in an understated and deceptively compelling way.

I enjoyed this book when it was originally published in 1992, and I like the 1998 edition even better. This is a must-read handbook for Greyhound lovers and for anyone considering Greyhound adoption.

Adopting the Racing Greyhound, by Cynthia Branigan.
Published by Howell Book House, 1998. ISBN: 087605193x

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