Gator and his foster family left on the 3:15 ferry out of Portland, heading out to Great Diamond Island for a weekend visit with friends. The line for the ferry was long, with dozens of dogs waiting with their owners. Gator's family attracted lots of attention because they included two other greyhounds. Managing three fairly large dogs in an ever moving crowd of people, dogs, rolling coolers and equipment is a feat not everyone would dare to attempt. Gator wore his muzzle as a precaution, as no one knew how he would react to the crowd, the ramp onto the ferry, or the sounds and vibrations of the engine.
Gator had been matched with his foster family through the Greyhound Pets of America-Central New Hampshire Chapter. Rather than the more traditional methods of greyhound rescue programs, this group only operates through foster families. His first week included all the firsts that greyhounds experience when they begin their second chance at life; stairs, being inside houses, furniture, appliances, getting house trained, going for walks, other breeds of dogs, children..... Gpa-cnhc feels that teaching greyhounds how to be pets through fostering them in homes with families gives them a better chance for a successful adoption into a forever family of their own.
Greyhounds are a unique breed, having lived their entire lives in a pack, and with the specific purpose of racing. When they are no longer able to race, they become retired. That's easy to say, but they have no skills for retirement life. Gator had made the trip to New Hampshire from a racetrack in Florida, along with a large group of other retired greyhounds, bound for various rescue groups along the way. He had been living with his family in southern Maine for five weeks at the time of his adventure to Great Diamond Island. When he first joined his foster family, he was very shy and very nervous. Everything but soft voices and gentle movements startled him. He spent most of his time in his crate, watching the goings on from the safety of something familiar to him. As the days progressed however, he learned and tried new experiences. There were days that he'd make progress, but then have to go back and start over, after an accident or getting into an argument with his sister greyhounds. Soon though, he was playing and burying his head into the basket of dog toys. He learned manners and started understanding words. He learned that he couldn't walk through sliding glass doors, and that it felt good to be loved just for himself.
So his excursion on the ferry, to the island, for an overnight visit in someone else's home, on a night full of booms and crackles from the fireworks going off, was nothing short of a hope and a prayer that it would be a success. The passengers and workers on the ferry asked questions and plied him with love and attention; so much so that he was not bothered by the noises or vibrations of the boat and the sounds of the waterfront. He loved all the walks, and meeting the other dogs that belonged to his island friends. He loved hanging out on the wide porch that wrapped around the house, loved listening to his 'parents' and their friends talking and laughing, loved looking across the lawn and through the trees to the water. But the thing he liked the best was walking on the beach, in the water, and swimming. Who would have ever thought that this cowardly greyhound would love swimming and lounging around in the ocean?
If you would like more information about Gator the foster dog, contact gpa-cnhc.org for information on the adoption process and an application. His info is being updated soon on the website. He is well mannered, and small dog/cat safe. He gets nervous when small children crowd him or are rough with him, so he would be better off being placed in a family without children younger than 8-10.