Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) Senior Sanctuary of Florida is a greyhound rescue organization with a base in Maitland, Florida and a foster network that extends throughout Florida. GPA Senior Sanctuary is committed to matching senior greyhounds (over the age of seven) to suitable families, and placed 19 rescued greyhounds into new forever homes in the last year alone. Their rescue dogs come primarily from breeding farms that give away brood moms once they are past breeding age and families that give up greyhounds after they come on hard times or medical issues.
For the past seven years, GPA Senior Sanctuary has volunteered their senior greyhounds for wet labs in Chi institute’s acupuncture programs. The short coat and naturally thin frame of the greyhound makes them ideal practice patients for novice acupuncturists since skeletal landmarks are one of the primary ways that acupoints are located. Chi students also appreciate the quiet and gentle temperaments of the greyhounds, who readily allow students to palpate them and check their tongue and pulse. The relationship is mutually beneficial because the greyhounds get complimentary acupuncture and herbal treatments from Chi instructors and TA’s during their visits. These senior dogs respond particularly well to TCVM treatment since they tend to suffer from arthritis, liver deficiencies, and other chronic ailments that TCVM is particularly well-suited for treating. According to Senior Sanctuary President Jo Ann Ball: “It has been a wonderful partnership. All the greyhounds that we have brought to the Chi Institute have been rewarded with better health.”
“We have learned so much from Chi,” says Debby Moyer who has been a member of GPA Senior Sanctuary for over six years – “Not only about acupuncture and herbs, but also what to feed our dogs.” Debby refers to Chinese food therapy, a branch of TCVM that utilizes the energetics of food to treat and prevent imbalance in the body. “We used to feed lamb and chicken to all our dogs before Chi vets told us it was too hot and causing them to be cool-seeking,” adds Maryann Atkins, another volunteer. “Now we know to balance their diets with fish and duck [which are cooling foods].”
Running a rescue for aged pets presents unique challenges. GPA Senior Sanctuary provides full veterinary services to all their greyhounds, and because the dogs are older, all of them usually require full blood work panels and other tests. “It gets expensive real quickly,” says Debby, “but we’ll do anything for these dogs.” Greyhounds are regarded by those in the organization as a “best kept secret.” Though bred and raised for the racetrack, most greyhounds are docile and loving by nature and are very low-maintenance, making them a great addition to almost any home. Though some are apprehensive about adopting an older pet, GPA Senior Sanctuary members contend that it is one of the most rewarding things one can do, particularly for a retired greyhound. Debby offers the following perspective: “even if it’s just a few short years, it feels amazing to know that you gave an animal the best years of his or her life.”