Second Chance Greyhounds out of Douglasville, Georgia describes itself as a dedicated group of volunteers working to place former racing greyhounds into adoptive homes. But Second Chance is unique. Their dogs are fostered and trained by inmates in the Georgia prison system. One of the programs is at the Jenkins County Correctional Facility in Millen, Georgia—a program that provides an opportunity for inmates to give back to the community while alleviating boredom and tension in prison, resulting in a safer environment for both staff and inmates.
The goal of any training and socialization program is to increase retention of greyhounds in their new adoptive homes. Second Chance offers the added benefit of allowing prison residents to experience first-hand, the unconditional love of a pet—a novel experience to many inmates. One fascinating aspect of the program is the blog that provides an inmate report on the dog’s progress. Diggory’s inmate mentor named the dog Hector and here is a selection of his reports on Hector (Diggory).
3/8/2020 – Hi there from Hector the Handsome Hound! Hector’s trainer loves this guy already. He is so intelligent, loving and gentle.
3/29 – This week has been a great week for this sweet pooch. Hector is enjoying his time at Second Chance Greyhounds Academy. He loves being able to roam around freely and play with his toys, but nothing compares to the love he has for his bed. Relaxing during retirement couldn’t be sweeter for Hector.
5/10 – Well, we’ve reached the end of the 10-week training program. Hector’s inmate trainer says that he’s truly enjoyed working with this smart boy. You can’t help but smile when you’re around Hector! His inmate trainer says that he believes Hector is going to make a great addition to his new forever family.
Greyhounds are trained athletes that are bred for speed, endurance and an even temperament. They are handled a great deal during their early years by dog walkers, trainers, veterinarians and others, so they love being around people. But, since they are raised in a monoculture of other greyhounds, they may be uncomfortable around cats and other breeds of dog—especially small dogs that might resemble the fluffy, white rabbits they were trained to chase at the track. Part of the adoption profile is a statement of their tolerance of cats and small dogs. According to his profile, Diggory was not tolerant of either. In real life, however, he learned to get along with my son’s rambunctious golden retriever, Libby, and seemed to relish the company of a quiet, seven-year-old cocker named Alice.
The literature describes greyhounds as possessing superior intelligence while exhibiting a quiet but surprising independence. I observed those qualities when Diggory first walked into the room and surveyed all who were present. His independence was evident in the story his owner told of the time Diggory caught a bird in flight. Before Will could react, Diggory had eaten the bird in three gulps—feathers and all. It reminded me of our young, quail hunting cockers that must be trained to give up their birds. They, too, would eat the birds given enough time.
I feel a sense of kinship with greyhounds. We are both tall and lanky while exhibiting a quiet but surprising independence. But we do differ in at least a couple of ways. I have never been that guy who could walk in and take over a room full of strangers. In fact, I hate walking into a room full of strangers. And as to possessing superior intelligence, well nobody has ever accused me of that, either.