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RELEASE THE HOUNDS 

Making fast friends with the noble greyhound

Do the cheetahs at the zoo ever have cause to sprint? They don't get to run down and kill the ibex in the next enclosure over, we presume, so the answer is pretty much no. Where then, to observe blazing holy-cow superhuman speed in the local animal kingdom? Look no further than the neighborhood greyhound associations.

To watch a greyhound switch on the afterburner is to behold one of nature's perfect machines. Of course, man had a hand in the breeding, but that mustn't dull our appreciation for this Lou Brock of the canine world. Unfortunately, many of the greyhounds used for racing are more or less released into the woods to meet lonely and ignoble ends after they have outlived their prime imitation- rabbit-chasing years -- that's where Greyhound Companions and similar organizations save the day. Collecting the superannuated speedsters from racing concerns, they match them with loving owners.

Up close, the breed may seem haughty, ignoring people in favor of curling up on a rug. Actually greyhounds are quite friendly and usually good with children, as folks find with a simple stroke of one of the dogs' smooth hide. "They're so skinny!" everyone who hasn't met one chimes. Yes, they are all ribs, with the slimmest of muzzles beneath two black-bead eyes. As is the case with most dogs, it's hard to resist their mournful looks. But you may not wish to adopt one if you own a cat. Some greyhounds, conditioned to pursue and eat small mammals with extreme prejudice, would like nothing more than to devour Fluffy.

Get to know these furry Ferraris in repose at the Greyhound Companions nail-trimming fundraiser, held the first Saturday of each month at PetCo in Florissant. For 3 bucks you can get your dog's nails trimmed and meet the hounds. But if they are napping, please, be very quiet -- they're dweaming of wabbits.

Greyhound Companions offers $3 nail trimming for all dogs and a chance to meet, pet and learn about greyhounds from noon-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, and the first Saturday of each month at PetCo of Florissant, 765 N. Lindbergh. Call 839-1525 or visit www.gcmo.org for more information.

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