Greyhounds Only was founded by Linda Lafoone, who provided us with this remembrance of her hound, Linda, and her decision to found Greyhounds Only. For all of us for whom GO holds a special place in our hearts and in our lives, we are in her debt.
At the time I first met Linda, we had already adopted 2 greyhounds who happen to be brothers from a track adoption program. About 4 months after we adopted "The Bo Brothers", I had the opportunity to get involved with the track adoption program as a volunteer thanks to the adoption coordinator, who also became a good friend. I began fostering greyhounds. When an applicant would come to meet the greyhounds, I would bring my foster to meet the applicant.
I was thoroughly enjoying my new volunteer work and could think of nothing that I would rather be doing. When I met Linda, I did not have a foster at the time and was ready for a new one. I was not sure who to pick until the adoption coordinator introduced me to Linda. Linda was a 5 year old black female who had just retired. She had a long racing career and now found herself in the track adoption program. I had never met a dog with the same name as me and I thought why not! So, I brought Linda home.
All went well with Linda as my foster. She was scared to death of our 4 cats! She could not and would not dare to make eye contact with them. It was so funny! Here is a dog that is 7 times bigger than a cat and she is afraid of them! She seemed to enjoy the Bo Brothers and would play with them daily. I believe Linda was in my home about 2 weeks when I got a call from the adoption coordinator at the track. She asked if I would bring Linda to meet a young couple. I was on my way.
When I arrived the couple was already there. They had two young children and were very nice people. They were looking for a dog for her mother who wrote children's stories. The adoption coordinator was a little leery of doing a third party adoption, but it sounded like a great home for a greyhound. They met and spent some time with a few adoptable greyhounds including Linda. Well, you can guess who their choice was; of course it was Linda. It hurt to watch Linda go. She had been in my home for 2 weeks and I was getting to know her. This was best though. I was a foster parent. About 3 days later, the adoption coordinator got a phone call from a greyhound adoption group in the Chicago area who told her that the home that Linda was living in was a very filthy dirty place filled with birds. She called me and asked if I would like to go with her and do a home visit. We soon left and was on our way to Linda's new home.
It was a warm summer day and the door of the house was open leaving a screen door to see into the house. We knocked on the door and here comes Linda! She wagged her tail and was glad to see us. We knocked again and called out to anyone who might be home, but there was no answer. We looked through the screen door into the older home and to our astonishment saw numerous bird cages with birds in them and more filth then I think either one of us had ever seen.
The bird cages were all on stands with mounds of bird droppings and old bird food underneath the cages. There were cob webs everywhere, It was hard to miss the smell coming out of the house. There was a window to the left side of us as we stood on the front porch. On the ledge of the window we could see a mouse. This did not look like a very healthy situation for human or dog. We knocked a couple more times and still no answer. We walked around the house to see if anyone was outside with no results.
We walked to a neighbor's house to see if they might know where the woman who we were looking for might be. They did not know. We decided to go to a phone booth to call animal control. After numerous phone calls the adoption coordinator got in touch with the animal warden and would meet us in a little bit. The adoption coordinator was worried what her boss would think about this whole situation. She could not get in touch with any of the management from the track that day. Most everyone had the day off. She made up her mind to do her best to try and get Linda back. The animal warden met us and listened to our story. She knew exactly who we were talking about. She followed us back to the bird woman's house. When we got there the woman had arrived home. The animal warden asked the woman to bring Linda outside. Once Linda was outside, the adoption coordinator told this woman that she was representing the track and was taking Linda back due to the filthy conditions of her home. Of course this woman disagreed with us and there was a bit of tug of war over Linda, but with the animal warden's help we left with Linda.
I took Linda home with me.The next day, everything hit the fan. The young couple that I had met that adopted Linda had called the general manager of the track wanting Linda back. The adoption coordinator was called on the carpet and was totally humiliated by the general manager with her boss sitting right there and not saying one word to support her. She was suspended from her job at this time. I saw her shortly after that.
She was in tears saying that no one had ever talked to her like that in her life. She also asked me to bring Linda back to the adoption center as soon as possible, which I did. About two days later I received a call from the adoption coordinator's boss. I was very angry about the treatment that my friend had received and told him so in a very blunt and loud way. He wanted to know my side of the story , which I did tell him and also that she was very right in what she did. That home was no place for a dog. The animal warden that supported the adoption coordinator in her decision to take Linda called the general manager to let him know that she did the right thing by taking Linda from the home. My friend and I became concerned that the management at the track might give Linda back to the woman with all the birds. I discussed our fears were with my husband and we decided to adopt Linda. I immediately went to the track adoption center and adopted Linda. About 1 week after Linda was taken from the woman's home, my friend was fired. She was devastated.
Linda had become a member of our family in an unusual way, but we were glad to have her. As we got to know Linda we found that she was a bit on the aloof side, wanting attention on her terms. When we first got her, she would not let us give her any kisses or hugs, but with time she began to trust us. She loved the Bo brothers; they were her boys. She gave them love bites by chewing on the back of their ears. She became the boss AKA the alpha bitch, but in reality she was one big baby. Of our 3 greyhounds, Linda had the most spirit. She loved to get rowdy in the back yard with the boys and they always showed her respect.
If you didn't know Linda, and watched her play in the back yard, you would think she was going to tear the other dogs to shreds with all the growls and snarls that came out of her. That was Linda just acting tough. Linda had to run. It was in her soul. Every few days, she just had to go outside and run and run by herself. It was if it was something she had to do. I always stopped what I was doing to watch. I never got tired of watching Linda run.
Linda rarely gave kisses, but when she gave you one, it was like a present. She became our alarm clock, waking us every morning between 6-7 am. She never liked it if I tried to sleep in, even if hubby got up first and let her out to go potty. She insisted that I get up by barking and whining in my face until I did get up. There was nothing like a good long walk to her. She would get so excited and let the world know that she was going for a walk by barking very loudly and continuously until the leash was hooked on to her collar. Whenever I would bring a new foster to the house, she would get an attitude. She would have nothing to do with me and would let the foster know right away who the boss was. After about 2 days, all would be forgiven and she would be playing with the new foster dog and being her usual self. She was quite a gal.
After doing volunteer work at the track adoption center, I had gotten a taste of what it was like to work with greyhounds. I didn't want to stop. I contacted an adoption group in the Chicago area and applied to become a foster parent. The folks from this agency had heard of Linda's plight and were interested in meeting me. We met at a greyhound reunion in Wisconsin and afterward they came to my home and we spent some time talking. The lady who is the head of the adoption group suggested that my friend and I start our own adoption group. This was kind of a scary thing to me. I did not know where to start. I began doing research and making phone calls. On October l5th 1995, which was about 4 months after Linda came into our lives, Greyhounds Only, Inc. Adoption & Rescue became official. To this date, Greyhounds Only has found homes for over 200 greyhounds. We have grown and have many wonderful people to thank for all the hard work that has been accomplished. I have met so many great people and I sure have made a lot of greyhound friends.
Linda began to slow down last fall. She began coughing and tiring very easily on walks. We soon found out that she was in the beginning stages of congestive heart failure. It was also discovered that part of her larynx was not moving. She was scheduled to have surgery on her larynx, but because she was having other complications, it was canceled. A few weeks before Christmas Linda began limping. This went on for about 2 weeks. I made an appointment to take her to the vet. The day before I was to take her I had come home from Christmas shopping to find Linda screaming in pain. She could barely walk. I rushed her to the vet.
An X-Ray was taken of her right rear leg. She had bone cancer. It was decided to put her on pain killers to make her more comfortable. Her heart could not handle chemo or surgery. The pain meds were helping. She still had her spirit. She still chewed on the boy's ears and let the foster dogs know who was boss. Slowly, her spirit wasn't quite what it was and she spent a lot of time alone.
She was throwing up a lot at meal time, and could not keep much food inside her. It just got worse and worse. We knew it was time. Linda was put to sleep on January 24, 2000. I will miss her so very much. Meeting her changed my life and opened up a world that will be a big part of the rest of my life. Thank you Linda. I love you.
Linda LaFoone, 2000