"Look at that greyhound. He can't even slow down for a walk!"
So observed a passerby of my dog, Elvis. But he was trotting only to keep up with my fast-paced gait. If it were up to him, he wouldn't even be on this walk, but instead curled up in his beloved La-Z-Dog recliner.
But after talking with "Fitness Unleashed" author, Dr. Marty Becker, about the importance of canine exercise, I realize that Elvis needs to start moving his tail. I also know that a couple of times each month, volunteers from Golden State Greyhound Adoption rent a fenced dog park for the exclusive use of their ex-racers. For one hour, as many as 30 hounds romp unencumbered around a grassy yard the approximate size of a baseball field. Stu Homer, who organizes these activities, said the dogs have a great time exercising and socializing. Bring Elvis, he encouraged.
I've never taken advantage of these playdates though, because they're always scheduled the same time as church. And frankly, I need all the spiritual help I can get. However, one day I realized what a disservice I was doing to Elvis, denying him the chance to dally with his "dawgs." Surely the Big Fella wouldn't begrudge me an occasional absence in order to tend to one of His four-legged flock.
And so, early one crisp autumn morning, I took Elvis on his first playdate with his greyhound brethren. I envisioned a pack of hounds racing around the fenced field, free of leashes and flying like the wind. I know greyhounds are lazy, but surely they would embrace this opportunity to stretch their legs. I couldn't wait to see Elvis run, too.
The operative word being "wait."
Because Elvis was in no rush to run. Just like the other two dozen or so ex-racers who were far more interested in cozying up to strangers for a scratch behind the ears. Several dogs were sunbathing, leisurely stretched across the still-dewy grass, while others were busy sniffing tails and marking bushes. A few were shy and velcroed to their guardian's thigh. Some grizzled veterans bore nicked ears, slight limps or faint scars, reminders of their racing days. All wore racing muzzles, which still allows the dogs to open their mouths and drink water. The muzzles are necessary only because as ex-racers, when the dogs start to run in a pack and pick up speed, they can hurt their paper-thin skin just by accidentally scraping against another dog's tooth.
Not that running was an issue. The only trotting taking place here was by the guardians who were trying to motivate their lackadaisical hounds into moving. I half expected to see a pack of people start racing around the yard while the dogs sat back and watched.
My boy certainly wasn't interested. If he could talk, I'm sure he would say, "Hello! Retired--look it up in Webster's." Anyway, he was way too busy making the rounds, approaching each person and tucking his knobby little head between their knees for a much-loved neck rub.