By Sarah E. Anderson
Teresa Rosche Ott was not a dog person. She had always thought of them as smelly, loud and too much trouble. As a single mother of two, who was working and driving from Douglasville several times a week to attend school full-time at Kennesaw State University, the last thing she wanted was to spend time and money on a dog.
Then she met some Greyhounds.
A Greyhound rescue organization just happened to be on campus at KSU one day, and Rosche Ott found herself drawn to the animals. The dogs were calm and at ease with anyone who approached them. She'd never seen one in person, but was amazed at how simple and elegant-looking they were. "The way they looked at me seemed to plead for love. I later learned that was a ruse; they learn quickly to play us humans," she said.
That day, Rosche Ott made up her mind that she wanted to adopt two Greyhounds, but she wanted to wait until she finished school and got settled into a good job.
About seven years later she met Sara. Sara was a four-year-old Greyhound whose racing career had ended but still loved to run. She didn't seem to have as much personality as the other Greyhounds that were available for adoption, but upon spending a little time with her, Rosche Ott says she knew Sara was the one. "I walked back to the kennel where she was and crouched down on the floor to try to pet her through the chain link enclosure, and then I got all choked up. I'd waited for seven years and here I was, finally going to bring a Greyhound into my home. You'd think I had given birth to my first child."
Rosche Ott refers to Sara as her "neurotic dog," as she is scared of thunder, easily startled and has to wear "special shoes" because the pads on her feet wear out. However, Rosche Ott says that, "No other Greyhound I've had has been this high maintenance, but none have been as smart and well trained as Sara, either."
A year after adopting Sara, Rosche Ott was volunteering with the organization Southeastern Greyhound Adoption (SEGA), which is based in Atlanta, fostering dogs that needed a place to stay until they found a permanent home. When the organization received Grayson from a family who didn't want him anymore, Rosche Ott took him in, and he instantly bonded with Sara. Today, both Grayson and Sara are still a major part of her family.
Rosche Ott continues to foster other Greyhounds through SEGA. Some are from families who decided they no longer wanted the dogs; many are straight from the race track and need a few lessons about life in the real world.
Currently, Rosche Ott is fostering Freckles, a five-year-old Greyhound whose human parents recently lost their home. Rosche Ott, who has faced difficult times, herself, said she'd often talked to her husband, Brian Ott, about what would happen if they were put in a similar situation, and she knew parting with her dogs would be one of the hardest things she would ever have to do. "Yes, they're dogs, but they've become part of the family and it would be emotionally very hard. So when I heard through SEGA about the couple's situation I talked to Brian and he agreed to help. Hopefully, Freckles will be reunited with his family next month," she said of her current visitor.
Rosche Ott wants people to know that Greyhounds make great pets. She also wants people to know there are many myths out there about these magnificent creatures. For example, Greyhounds aren't necessarily mistreated while they are racing, because, as Rosche Ott put it, "a mistreated dog is not a winning dog." However, when a dog's racing career is over, the owner doesn't have much use for the dog anymore and sadly, many of them are euthanized when they are no longer able to race.
Rosche Ott also points out that Douglasville is one of the best places to own a Greyhound. The dogs love to visit many of the area's parks, such as Boundary Waters and Sweetwater Creek State Park. They also like to visit Brusters for a special Doggie Sundae, "they recognize where we're at when we pull up," she said.
Organizations like SEGA are great sources of information, and they can help you decide if a Greyhound is the right dog for you. Also, SEGA offers several opportunities for you and your dog to volunteer or attend events in Douglas County and throughout the metro Atlanta area. Rosche Ott says she has made many friends through SEGA, and many of them live in Douglasville.