An Alternative City Dog

Holly Atkinson writes for Vegan Life on the benefits of adopting a rescue greyhound in a city and how she fell in love with Bob.

Living in London for ten years, working full-time and frequently travelling meant that I could never responsibly keep a dog in the city.  That is, until now. You see, my husband’s work situation has changed. He works for himself now and spends a lot more time at home. Growing up with dogs, we had been talking about having a companion for a long time and had our heart set on a Rottweiler puppy: a sensible and robust breed yet fluffy and engaging. But, living in a smallish flat in Zone Two meant that we had to completely rethink our plans as there was no way we could safely accommodate a messy pup at our place.


So, very much with an open mind, we adopted Bob. Bob’s a 4 year-old greyhound with black fur and the odd white patch here and there, rescued from the racing industry.  Oh, and tattoos in both ears. He weighs over 30 kilos and, with his head reaching around 85cm off the floor (on four paws), he’s definitely a kitchen counter surfer – so no food is to be left unattended, that’s for sure! I love him. But, before Bob, I actually never wanted a greyhound.

After the journey home, Bob was very shy with us at first and didn’t like to make much eye contact. Fortunately, Bob was already house-trained and knew how to walk beautifully on the lead. He initially behaved in a reserved manner and we only saw his playful side start to come out after having him for around two months. Now that he is fully settled at home, we are seeing more of his real personality and he is growing used to being a family companion rather than a racing commodity. I realise now how much I never knew about greyhounds and how adorable they can be. Bob loves nothing more than snoozing all day on the sofa and he will cuddle up to whichever one of us is nearest.


It won’t be surprising to readers that Bob loves to chase things. What might be surprising, however, is how little exercise greyhounds require on a daily basis when compared to other large dogs. A couple of short walks of 20 to 30 minutes per day are sufficient for most greyhounds! Don’t get me wrong, Bob’s still extremely fast and we couldn’t catch him off the lead. We’re having to work on his recall which is taking some time but, luckily for us, there are lots of dog-walking areas in our local London parks where he can run freely to burn off his energy. At home, Bob isn’t boisterous and doesn’t take up a lot of space. He sleeps on a soft padded quilt on the floor.


An elegant dog, Bob is extremely careful around our flat and, with the exception of anything furry, he won’t interfere with our stuff. He seems to stay pretty clean and, with the help of tasty chicken treats, Bob has swiftly learned lots of new commands. From what I can tell, Bob is one of the more fortunate dogs that has actually reached an adoptive family following the end of a racing career and, by looking at his general condition and the state of his teeth (which – we were told – could fall out if not brushed daily), I believe he was relatively well looked after in his previous life.


Since adopting Bob, I have learned much about the greyhound racing industry, through sheer interest more than anything else. I’ve particularly enjoyed finding out Bob’s racing satistics and history via a wealth of online resources. On the other hand, this research on my part has unearthed a number of sinister practices that I’m guessing most people who go to the dogs just aren’t aware of. I’d encourage anyone looking to buy a dog or a puppy to look instead at adopting a greyhound, simply because there are so many ex-racers that are discarded after running only for a couple of years. There’s a lot of money in the racing industry, even now, yet animal welfare standards need to be improved. I’m reminded of this every time I see the mysterious inch-long scar next to Bob’s left eye, in the shape of a crescent moon.


Greyhounds are most certainly built for speed. I have also found that mine is built for lounging, built for cuddles, built to learn and, perhaps most significantly, built for a city life.


For more information about greyhounds, visit



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