A racing school dropout, Lancer loves his new life


Photo by Claire Flack
Lancer comes to the Tompkins Square Dog Run for the people. One of his tricks is to flaunt his old paw injury as a ploy to get food.


V PET SET | Thanks to an injury to his front paw during training, Lancer — formerly known as TNJ Lancer, his racing name — escaped life on the track, and found love instead with his owners, Felicity Conrad and Jules Bouckaert, in the East Village.

The greyhound, 5½, was bred in Texas, and briefly went to a racing school in Alabama. Luckily, Lancer never made it to racer status. He came to the city via Greyhound Friends of New Jersey, Inc., a nonprofit that rescues greyhound racers in need, and places them in a foster home while they acclimate to life outside a kennel.

“They don’t know how to do stairs, and glass or mirrors are a big thing,” explained Conrad, who adopted Lancer when he was 2. Adjusting to people took some time for Lancer, but now that he’s made the transition, he goes to the Tompkins Square Park dog run to interact with humans, not dogs.

“When we first got him, he’d stay in his bed,” Bouckaert said. “As racers, they don’t have a relationship with a human, and over the past three years he’s developed a personality. He didn’t know how to love.”

Lancer has come a long way with his owners and others. Bouckaert, a global brand manager for Ralph Lauren fragrances, spoke about a favorite game of his — to hide from Lancer when they’re in the dog park.

“I’ll sneak toward the exit, and Lancer will be across the dog park,” he said. “He’ll give up pretty easily and find a new person.”

“No, he won’t!” disagreed Conrad, who took the New York State Bar Examination last week and will start practicing law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in September.

Bouckaert assured her that once Lancer sees him, “He panics and sprints right over.”

“It’s the only way to get him to run,” Conrad joked. “Lancer is a very loyal dog,” she declared.

“Yes,” quipped Bouckaert, “I’ve seen him go with a couple of other people.”

Lancer knows some tricks for food, and even plays up his real limp when he wants something. He has an affinity for ice cubes and is a “pro” at eating watermelon.

“It’s a delicate art for him,” said Conrad, “He nibbles it so it’s even.”

“Like corn on the cob,” Bouckaert added. “He carefully eats it back and forth.”

Lancer recently discovered the pool in the dog run and “it’s been love at first sight,” said Conrad. When he runs around in a circle really fast, it’s called a “zoomie.” When he does that in the pool, it’s a “water zoomie.” He also frequently does the “apartment zoomie.”

“That’s when you notice his size when he’s leaping around the apartment,” Bouckaert said. “If you start clapping, he gets more excited, and does that for about 45 seconds. Then he lies down panting, and goes to sleep — as if he’s run a marathon.”

One of Lancer’s sisters wins a lot of races at the track. But he just likes to sleep a lot — up to 18 hours a day.

According to Bouckaert, greyhounds can run up to 45 miles per hour. But when Lancer runs with Conrad, “He’ll go for 100 meters, and that’s it for the week.”

“He’s the laziest dog,” she said. “He cuddles, and he’s the best apartment dog. He’s lazier than we are.”

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20 Responses to A racing school dropout, Lancer loves his new life

  1. The statement “As racers, they don’t have a relationship with a human" is completely ridiculous. I've owned and bred greyhounds as a hobby since 1980. Greyhounds most certainly have loads of human interaction – from the moment they're born to the day they leave for the adoption kennel. Probably a lot more than most other breeds.

  2. Congratulations Felicity and Jules on adopting a member of this incredible breed and taking the time to work with him. While it is true that some greyhounds require a period of adjustment after kennel life, it is a common misconception that they “don’t have a relationship with a human.” Greyhound puppies are raised on farms and generally are kept with their littermates for an entire year. The puppies are handled and loved-on by the farmer, kids, grandkids, visitors, etc. After that, they will go to “racing school” for another 4-6 months for more intense hands-on training, again being handled and exposed to multiple human beings. They are sprinted, massaged, groomed, bathed (sometimes in a really cool whirlpool), fed , played with, and cuddled. Some greyhounds are just naturally shy and take a little longer to adjust to being a pet. Remember, everything is brand new and they’ve never been without their “pack” before – especially if he’s the only dog in the home. For more information on your greyhound’s early life, visit http://www.allaboutgreyhounds.com or if you’re on Facebook, there’s a great group that connects adopters with owners, breeders, and trainers called The Pro Greyhound Movement.

  3. “As racers, they don’t have a relationship with a human, and over the past three years he’s developed a personality. "

    Utter Rubbish. I have three retired racers and one of the things that makes them such greyt pets is that they DO have so much experience with humans. They interact with humans on a daily basis throughout their careers FAR more than any shelter dog would, and they often form bonds with trainers, track workers, adoption workers, previous fosters, etc. Greyhounds are amazing pets, but let's focus on the dogs, and not misrepresent them to advance a separate agenda…

  4. “As racers, they don’t have a relationship with a human, and over the past three years he’s developed a personality. He didn’t know how to love.”

    I really wish people would stop repeating ridiculous AR statements such as this one. I am sure the adopters are lovely people just believing the false information that an AR group passed along.

    If you want to take an anti-race stance fine. But do some research and base it on truth not the lies that have been perpetuated ad nauseam! Take a stand but stand on facts and truth!

  5. I started out adopting my first greyhound…FROM THE FARM…and at 8 months she was perfectly comfortable with people. This was in 1991. A few years later, I worked with people individually across much of the US adopting out greyhounds..coming straight off the track..and walking into homes and checking out sofas and hopping up on them. I have been to the tracks, to the track kennels where I have cuddled with them..and also been their 'stuffie' of the day to play with. I have been IN the crates with them, and helped with turnouts. There is constant contact with humans

  6. Greyhound racing? EEK! No, thank you!

  7. My hound was so spoiled at the track. I blame the racing kennel for her Diva ways :)

  8. As a greyhound adopter, I know that my dog was extremely well socialized with humans who took great care of him at the farm and at the track. It is utterly false to think that MOST retired racers in the United States have had either no relationship with humans or been in abusive situations. These dogs LOVE people and TRUST people – you don't get that by being neglected or abused – you get that by being cared for and having good things happen when people are around. Whatever your position on racing – it is sad to see these lies perpetuated as it ultimately damages the perception of greyhounds in the public eye and cultivates the image that these great dogs won't make good pets because they have not been socialized or have been abused.

  9. This article disturbs me on many levels.

    I hate words like "greyhound rescue" — few greyhounds are "rescued". Here's a good description of the terms: RETIRED GREYHOUND : A Greyhound who has been retired from racing for one reason or another. RESCUED GREYHOUND : A Greyhound who was found running loose, taken out of a kill shelter or for whatever reason was in a situation where it's life was in danger. RETURNED GREYHOUND : A Greyhound who, for whatever reason, had to come back into an adoption program to find a new home (sometimes due to a divorce, family moving, financial reasons or sometimes they were just not the right fit for a particular family).

    And whole thing in this article about greyhounds not being socialized. Rot. I've never seen such well socialized dogs. The retired racing greyhound is such a wonderful dog BECAUSE of their socialization and race training (thank you to all the wonderful people who helped to shape my fabulous adopted greyhound!). Of course, there are some who are naturally more shy or even a true spook. Just like in any breed or even in people. They are not mistreated to make them this way, they just are genetically like this.

    I haven't met a greyhound yet who isn't full of love. "Don't know how to love"? Greyhounds have cornered the market on this!

  10. Nice article, but do your homework! My retired Greyhound was whelped in her racing owners home and knew loving human interaction from the time she took her first breath! Daily human interaction and living with their litter for a whole year makes them some of the most well balanced dogs out there!

    While some dogs take longer for their true personality to emerge than others, three years is a real stretch.

    These dogs are some of the best loved, best maintained and most misrepresented by reports that life is hell for them. Really, escaped life on the track? Found love instead? Please deal with reality and get to know a trainer who melts into a puddle when a dog leaves the track for retirement or moves to another track.

  11. Claire Sommers

    I adopted my first retired racer in 1998 and adopted 3 more thru the years my latest one in 2012. They have all been so very calm confident and loving that they have all became certified therapy dogs and visit the elderly in nursing homes. And participate in the Reading to Rover program in public libraries. Couldn’t ask for a sweeter more loving breed of dog. I have also fostered many thru the years. I am fairly certain I have more experience than the author of this article.

  12. I will tell you i have lots of dogs that i have a “relationship” with my dogs love me and anyone else they see at the track they are a very loving breed we feed them why would you think they dont love us or have a relationship with us we are their owners and handlers from when they are young wr make them the animald they are god i pity your view of greyhounds and greyhound racing

  13. Have to say that I've now owned six greyhounds and the five who came direct from their trainer were instantly affectionate and loving. I can't understand why people would say they're not! Sure they have to learn about stairs, vacuum cleaners, buses and traffic etc, but they learn incredibly fast.

    The thing I've had to work on most is that they're usually not used to living as an only dog, and none of mine have taken longer than three or four days to get used to that, so it's not exactly a huge problem!

    The sixth was never a racing dog but was picked up as a stray (not earmarked, so never even in the racing industry). He had more behaviour issues than all the others put together, but he was a GREAT dog, and learned incredibly fast.

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