Littermates. I have them, and people notice them. It’s something unusual in the Greyhound world to adopt two ex-racers who were born together. Even if you happen to be that fortunate, it may be hard for people to tell that your dogs are related, since they may look nothing alike. In my case, my girls share a strong physical resemblance: both brindle, both tending toward the small side (Midori has only two pounds and zero inches on her sister), both possessed of a light, petite build. It’s easy to spot the relationship.
It’s no surprise that my family has fielded several versions of “How?” in the last several years. People want to know the story, and sometimes how to adopt littermates themselves. The number of things that have to go right makes successful adoption of littermates the exception, not the rule. If you’re looking for littermates of your own, the best thing I can tell you is this. Be prepared to put in the work, and accept that you may be disappointed. Unless you find a matched pair already up for adoption together, there are a lot of hurdles to clear to bring full siblings together.
Please carefully consider the commitment you are making before you pursue adoption of a littermate.
Let’s say that you have a Greyhound, and you love that Greyhound so much that you’d like to adopt another dog from the same bloodlines. Your first stop should be Greyhound-Data and Trackinfo. These sites will allow you to view records such as your dog’s littermates, parents, half-siblings, and so on. They can also give you an idea of whether or not any of these dogs are still racing or breeding, and where they might be (you’ll need a free membership to view complete records on Greyhound-Data). If one of these dogs is currently up for adoption, Greyhound-Data sometimes lists the adoption group currently responsible for the dog. Trackinfo is better for locating a dog who’s still racing, as it tends to have the most up-to-date race results. If you can’t determine the dog’s current status through either site, try a Google search of the dog’s registered name. You may get lucky if the dog is currently listed on an adoption group’s website.
Once you know where the dog is, find out how to get in touch with an adoption group that can help you. I stress the words “adoption group,” because these are the people who know the proper procedures for getting a dog into adoption upon retirement. If the dog is still racing, find out what adoption groups work with the track where the dog is running. Ask these groups if they can inquire after the dog on your behalf, and if they are willing to consider you as a potential adopter. The most important thing to remember here is to be polite. Adoption groups are under no obligation to help you get that specific dog. The dog may already have an adopter in line, or may not be the right fit for your home. A group may have restrictions on out-of-state adoptions, or other rules that prevent them from helping you. If the answer you receive is a firm “no,” accept that answer with grace, thank the group for their help, and remember that there are thousands of wonderful Greyhounds out there who need a loving home like yours.
You will still need to be realistic if the answer is, “Yes, we will help you.” The adoption group can’t promise that a trainer or owner will give them a particular dog. They can’t promise that the dog will have the temperament to succeed in your home. They can’t promise that the dog will retire any time soon, or without injury or other medical concerns. Have a plan for what will happen if you are unable to adopt the dog upon retirement, and be sure that you and the adoption group have a clear understanding and agreement about what happens if the fit or the timing just isn’t right when the dog becomes available. Say, for instance, that you have a Chihuahua already in the home, and the dog you wanted displays a high prey drive toward small dogs during the temperament test. You cannot and should not try to “make it work” because your heart was set on a pair of siblings.
Transportation is the next big step after adoption approval and temperament evaluations. How are you going to get your dog if you live in Virginia, and the adoption kennel is in Florida? Work with the adoption group to find the best solution for you and them. Be prepared to make a long trip if necessary, or to help with transportation expenses if there’s room on the next dog haul. When finalizing arrangements to get your dog, be sure that you have all important details, from fees to adoption contracts, in good order. Remember that adoption groups depend on volunteers and donations to operate. When they seek out a specific dog for you, they are putting in extra effort. Show that their work is appreciated, and do what you can to help support them.
How did I make it work?
My family was lucky with Midori. Her adoption group in Mobile worked with us to find Midori and help ensure that our home was right for her. A second adoption group assisted with transportation, and provided neutral ground where I could reintroduce Midori to her sister, and make first introductions between her and Irish.
Midori and Maia’s tale is a happy one, with an almost ideal ending. However, I’ll leave you with some words of caution. If you choose to adopt a littermate, understand that there is no guarantee your dogs will get along, or that they will resemble each other in temperament or even appearance. Midori may look like Maia, but she has a distinctly different personality.
Are you ready to accept a dog who may not be what you expected? Do you have the ability to work with the adoption group toward a solution if the dogs see each other as enemies instead of friends? If the answer to either of these questions is no, let the littermate dream pass. The well-being of each dog outweighs any blood relation between them.
I hope that I’ve satisfied your curiosity, and offered something to consider if you, like me, have thought of finding your Greyhound’s family. Would I adopt littermates again if I had the chance? Absolutely, under the right circumstances. But I also know that Greyhounds whose families have’t crossed since 1875 can often share an even deeper bond than siblings. So don’t rush out to get that littermate if your dog’s best friend is already at an adoption center in your own backyard.