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Petunia McClary


Petunia McClary PWS Sweet Magic

Born Dec. 3, 2009

Adopted March 10, 2012

Died Nov. 2, 2017

Our adopted greyhound Petunia was what the greyhound adoption world refers to as a “spook”. They are referred to this way not because a spooky greyhound is a ghost or a spy for the CIA, but because these dogs are easily “spooked” or thrown into a panic. Many times, these dogs are this way because they were not socialized properly as puppies. They missed those critical periods during puppyhood of being handled and being with people that would make them less fearful of people. Genetics can also sometimes play a role in the creation of a spooky greyhound. The spooky greyhound overreacts in an anxious and fearful way to things that normal dogs do not fear. Their panting, shaking, lack of eye contact and tail tucked way up under their body at the thought of you touching them is not easy to deal with.


Petunia was featured on GPA-Central Florida’s website as a socially challenged special needs hound. They described her as liking to hang out in her crate and mentioned that she did not walk on lead. I asked to adopt her because I had some things a spooky dog needs:

• A fenced yard

• Other greyhounds (spooky dogs do fine with other greyhounds; it’s people they fear)

• A routine existence

• Experience with shy greyhounds

• A patient husband named Marty (aka St. Martin)

• The understanding that it could be months, years, or never for Petunia to be more like a normal greyhound


Before she came to Rochester, Dennis Tyler’s wonderful GPA-CF volunteers in Melbourne, FL worked with Petunia every week to get her more used to people. One volunteer sat near her crate and read to her. Another pet her gently while Petunia was plastered to the back of her crate and, yet another got her to sort of walk out to the turn out pen by pushing her from behind a little at a time.


Petunia was a “project dog”, but we grew to love her and appreciate all the little improvements she made. It took almost a year before she let us pet her without capturing her in a corner to be able to do it.

After more months she would come up behind us and sniff and touch our hands with her nose as we walked to the door to let the dogs out. More time passed, and she started taking delight in pouncing and barking at the cats in the great room to make them run. In the yard she was happy and more confident. Eventually she let us pet her while she was standing up (but her tail would tuck, and she would droop). She much preferred to be lying on her dog bed in the bedroom when we pet her. She got so she really enjoyed it. Marty could pretend to chase her in the yard and she would run and wag her tail. She also started woofing at him for treats. She disappeared into the bedroom if anyone came over, so no one really got to meet her, so you’ll have to take our word for it that she improved over time.

She was never a normal greyhound that adopters prefer, but to us she was a gift that taught us patience and the enjoyment in making the difference in a dog’s life. In 2011, when Dennis Tyler saw her in another track’s kennel as he was choosing dogs to add to his adoption kennel, he picked Petunia as one of them. Not because he needed her, but because she needed him. We will always be grateful for Dennis’ decision and our choice to adopt her.



Nan and Marty McClary


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