Thanks to your support, 24 galgos started their new life in the USA with American Greyhound during the month of October. In the last newsletter, I shared with you some information about the galgos and why it was important for American Greyhound to be there for them. Now, I'd like to share some information about another group of sight hounds that also need our help. These dogs are called lurchers. American Greyhound has been helping lurchers for many years and we plan to continue as long as they need our help.
What is a lurcher?
By definition, a lurcher is a sight hound, often a greyhound, crossed with a terrier, herding breed, or large scent hound. The idea behind this breeding is that these dogs will bring great intelligence, scenting ability, and tenacity. Lurchers are primarily used as hunting dogs. They are also bred for competitions called field trials that can include coursing, treeing, and even swimming. Lurchers are bought, sold, and traded regularly as they are considered a commodity and not pets. Most lurchers live their lives outdoors chained or kenneled when they are not competing. Much like retired racers, they make great pets and are often referred to as "couch potatoes". They have not lived in a home prior to coming into rescue (remember; neither have retired racers). Household noises, sounds, surfaces, and smells are all brand new to them. With love and patience, they assimilate nicely into life as a companion pet. Just like retired racers, they should have the same precautions regarding a fenced yard or leash at all times. Also similar to retired racers, they can have a high prey drive, or they can live happily with cats or small dogs. These traits are dependent on the dog. Lurchers are commonly found all over the country. These dogs deserve to live their life as a loved family pet!
What are field trials?
Field trials developed in the United States nearly a century ago. It started as owners of coonhounds gathering to see how fast their coonhounds could tree a raccoon. Usually, the lurchers that we see are one of two types: running dogs and swimming dogs. Running hounds can be anywhere from ¾ greyhound to nearly full greyhound. Swimming dogs are usually ½ greyhound and often ½ coonhound. The running dogs are often used in treeing field trials. Owners release their hounds and they race to the tree. Often, bumping or otherwise impeding the other dogs is encouraged (this is different from regulated NGA racing). The events take place in heats over 1-2 days. There are various levels of competition indicated by a dollar amount. In swimming field trials, dogs are released from a starting box and they jump into a body of water. A caged raccoon is pulled across the water with the dogs swimming after it. There are two goals the dogs must reach; First Line and First Tree. The first dog to cross the finish line wins the First line. The first dog to bark inside the circle drawn around the tree wins First Tree. In both running and swimming events, there are different levels of competition and lotteries held for the selling and trading of the dogs.
How Can I Help?
We are always in need of foster families willing to open their hearts and homes to lurchers in need. Many times, people are nervous or unsure about fostering or adopting a lurcher over a retired racer. I think that is because people are somewhat unaware of their past or where they came from. I hope that this information helps clear that up. We have even had multi generational lurchers in our care! We recently brought in a lurcher that was the pup of a previous lurcher that came through American Greyhound. Sometimes we even know exact whelp dates for the lurchers, just like retired racers. If you would like to help the lurchers by fostering or assisting with transport, please let me know. These hounds are such wonderful animals and deserve our help and support.