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Couple gives greyhounds second chance

By: Bruce Warren Journal Correspondent
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If you were an abandoned greyhound race dog, you would likely be counting your lucky stars if you ended up at the Greyhound Friends for Life shelter off Highway 49 north of Auburn. The shelter, run by Andy and Shana Laursen, currently houses 12 greyhounds, which receive five exercise routines daily. The dogs benefit from indoor and outdoor pens that are kept immaculate by manager Mary Anderson, now with Greyhound Friends for Life for three years. And the food is great, too. Anderson makes sure that the dogs get four cups of food daily on a regular basis — but because these are greyhounds, you have to be careful not to overfeed them. Leilani Vierra, chief executive officer of the Placer County SPCA, has worked with Shana Laursen in placing greyhounds in new homes, and highly respects her work. “Shana is really dedicated to rescuing greyhounds,” Vierra said. “Her love for animal welfare extends well beyond greyhounds. She’s not just a talker, but a doer and shares every possible resource.” Shana Laursen traces her involvement with rescuing greyhounds to when she lived in the Bay Area. She wanted to adopt a purebred dog from a shelter and greyhounds were the only breed she could find at that time. When Andy and Shana Laursen purchased 500 acres of land off of Highway 49, about eight miles north of Interstate 80, that’s when they had room for the greyhounds to run. They opened the shelter in 2005. But really, why greyhounds? “Their manner, appreciation just oozes out of them,” Shana Laursen said. “It’s almost as if they know you’ve saved them.” If you take the opportunity to visit the shelter on June 29 for a photo fundraiser to be held on the grounds, you can visit the pens where the greyhounds can kick back and relax. Taking a stroll down the aisle between the pens, this writer was amazed at the friendliness of the dogs, coming to the doorway of their pens to greet a stranger. “They really thrive on attention,” Anderson pointed out. Those unfamiliar with the breed think that greyhounds are too hyperactive to make good pets, but that is actually far from the truth. They do enjoy regular exercise, but they are also supreme couch potatoes and can be found snoozing on their mats, according to Shana Laursen. “They take a quick sprint or run and then pretty much conserve their energy for the rest of the day,” Shana Laursen said. “You put these dogs with a lab or shepherd, and they will pretty much run circles around them.” Shana, who will soon make her tenth trip to Africa in seven years where she enjoys photographing wild life, compares the greyhound’s habits to that of the cheetah. Both animals spend considerable time resting in order to conserve their energy for that quick sprint. Of course, that quick burst of energy is what makes greyhounds racing dogs. Right now, six of the dogs at Greyhound Friends for Life were obtained from a track in Tucson, Ariz., while the rest of the dogs were picked up from California shelters. If shelters do not offer to take in the greyhounds no longer up to speed for racing, then many go the way of euthanasia. The $300 per month cost of boarding just one greyhound is not covered by the $250 adoption fee, which is why Greyhound Friends for Life relies heavily on three main annual fundraisers in order to help meet costs. It’s a matter of love for these friendly creatures. In 2007, Greyhound Friends for Life succeeded in creating 140 greyhound adoptions. One senior couple, Helen and Jim Walker from Seattle, Wash., actually took the time to send an e-mail to Shana about the adventurous ride her new dog took with them by car along Interstate 5, and the flooding they experienced north of Portland, where a levee broke. Helen Walker writes about her dog Emma’s arrival at her new home in Washington: “When I got to big tree country, and that adds up to constantly chattering, out-of-reach squirrels, I played it cool, not coming out of my shell too quickly, slowly kissing up, letting them think that their pats and hugs had something to do with the new me,” Helen Walker wrote on behalf of Emma. “Then the old duffers threw me a curve. If you can believe it, Shana, they took me to a car wash for a bath!” Of course, the dog was still inside of its traveling crate. Still, how many adopters take the time to write an e-mail that would equal three pages written. “Emma is a wonderfully sweet and affectionate dog, thank you for bringing us together; though we’re puzzled as to why others didn’t grab her up,” Jim Walker writes. “However, we are too busy enjoying her to question our good fortune.” And by the way, Emma the greyhound is getting two meals a day, vitamins and treats. ---------- Greyhound Friends for Life will host the “Grace for Joy Photo Show,” on June 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the shelter located on Overhill Drive off of Highway 49, about eight miles north of Interstate 80. Andy and Shana Laursen will exhibit 20x30-inch photos of cheetahs and greyhounds, with print prices starting at $150 and mounted prints at $200. All funds will go completely to the shelter. The Laursens have made a number of trips to Africa to photograph wildlife and one of Andy’s shots was recently published in the KLM airlines publication. On June 27 from 6-10 p.m., for a $100 donation, the Larsens will host a special buffet with cocktails and promise a “special four-legged guest appearance.” On June 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be a family picnic with games, prizes, a deli lunch and tour of the foster facility. Reservations for either the June 27 or 28 events, can be made by calling Shana at (530) 320-9144, or by email at foothillfosters@yahoo.com. Directions to the shelter can also be found at the web site of greyhoundfriendsforlife.org.