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Song helps get lost greyhound back home

SAN MARCOS — Trying to catch a greyhound is like trying to catch the wind because they go so fast, said Francie Murphy.

And appropriately enough, it was the song, “Catch the Wind,” by Donovan that helped to find a runaway greyhound named Aston in a San Marcos neighborhood earlier this month.

Murphy, a volunteer grant writer with the San Diego-based Greyhound Adoption Center, explained that with the help of volunteers, social media, including Facebook, and the posting of flyers throughout the neighborhood, the 2-year-old greyhound was located and returned home to his owners.

On June 4, after five days and nights on his own, while volunteers and residents sleuthed and searched for him, there was one Facebook post that caught the attentions of volunteers.

A group of searchers that included Denine Hunt, made an attempt at locating the dog.

And then there he was.

Careful not to spook Aston, Hunt sat down with her back to the dog, explained Darren Rigg, founder and president of the Greyhound Adoption Center.

It’s tempting to just try and approach a dog that’s been missing for days, but that would’ve been a mistake, he said.

“As soon as she (Hunt) was within earshot of Aston, she started to sing this Donovan song…which was a song she used to sing to him at the kennel,” Rigg said.

And instead of bolting off like they thought Aston would do, he sauntered up, wagging his tail and she grabbed him.

“It was a happy ending,” Rigg said. “And I can tell you there’ve been a few of these dog searches over the years end in other ways than happy endings like this. This one worked out great.”

Aston came to the Greyhound Adoption Center about a year ago, along with 19 other dogs from Kansas, Mo., Rigg said. “He was almost a year old at the time and a fearful young dog. He’d not had any exposure (to) being handled, being singled out from a group of other dogs,” he said.

They assumed Aston was raised in a crate and kennel environment.

He was too young to race and he didn’t have the disposition to it.

Aston was full of fearfulness and it took a year to find the right people to care for him.

Brooke Raudenbush and her husband Rob had just adopted Aston only two months ago. She said Aston is now doing fabulous back at home.

But during that time he was missing it was horrible she said, amounting to a lot of sleepless nights.

Raudenbush said that greyhounds are great as pets. “He (Aston) doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

“The situation with Aston was just unfortunate.,” said Rigg. “He just happened to take flight at a moment of something scaring him, which, I think, was the garage door.”

Rigg expressed that track dogs not being good pets was a common misperception perpetuated by the racing industry. Rigg, being around greyhounds since he was a kid, knew that wasn’t right.

“To say these were not suitable as pets, when in actuality greyhounds, track dogs especially, make very, very good pets, and they’re quiet and they’re well-behaved and they hardly shed,” he added.

Yet, with fewer racetracks and fewer races going on than there used to be, the surplus of greyhounds is still huge, Rigg explained.

“Greyhound racing is a for-profit business, that up until the last 10 years was producing tens of thousands of surplus greyhounds every year in the United States,” said Rigg.

“We don’t know the exact numbers now, because the industry doesn’t publish numbers anymore,” he added.

Rigg called his founding of the adoption center an “accident,” but he’s been doing it now for over 30 years. The dogs they receive range anywhere from about 2-and-a-half to 3 years old, that have either raced for a few seasons and either become injured or washed up.

Many of the dogs have the ability to race until they’re 5 years old.

“The worst is yet to come, I think,” Rigg said. “Because there’s going to be a deluge of dogs in the next five to 10 years,” he said.

Murphy said the center’s full capacity is 60 dogs. Right now, they might have close to 50 rescued greyhounds.

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