Sonia Stratemann and her
"Elite" Greyhounds

By Lois Spatz for Around Wellington Magazine

Sonia Stratemann wants you to know greyhounds are one of the most sensitive, loving, loyal and beautiful breeds of dogs – and she should know. Stratemann owns Elite Greyhound Adoption in Wellington . She has worked, lived and loved animals all her life and fostered hundreds of dogs for different agencies for several years before starting her own agency on her Loxahatchee farm on Hyde Park Road.

Before her own agency, Stratemann worked with the Greyhound Adoption league, Greyhound Pets of America and Animal Rescue League.

“I worked with Carol at Pet Haven rescue for a while, but we decided the greyhounds needed their own group here in the Western Communities - and she helped me with everything,” Stratemann said. “I finally went and did all the paper work and we were approved as a non-profit agency.”

Before Elite became a non-profit agency, the Palm Beach Kennel Club gave Stratemann financial assistance for advertising and start-up costs. She worked closely with local greyhound trainers from various racing facilities in the area to get the dogs as soon as they are retired or if they become injured.

“Most of the trainers are really good about it and will call me as soon as the dogs need to be taken,” she said. “I get at least a couple of calls a week and I want to take all of the dogs in but our problem is we can only take so many. We can take them in and take them in but they need to be going out as well.”

Stratemann said people who haven't had previous contact with greyhounds usually have so many crazy and common misconceptions about the breed.

“People think they want to take off all time or they are crazy and need a lot of exercise, but the truth is they are really lazy dogs,” she said. “They are great for older people too, because they are so good on a leash and want to sleep a lot, but they are also great with kids because they love to play.”

Her passion and experience certainly provide her with the knowledge to clear up so many preconceived notions people have about greyhound adoption. The most important detail she wants to get out to the public is the fact that greyhounds are great family pets and are fantastic with children, even though they are raised in kennels all their life.

“Most greyhounds have never even seen the inside of a house but they seem to have an immediate bond with children,” she adds. “I have three children who child-proof all the dogs for me. When the dogs see children for the first time, they go insane with happiness and automatically love them.”

“The other thing is that even though these are full-grown dogs, it is like getting a puppy because they've never been through the stages of puppyhood. It is a short training process which usually only takes a month or so, but I try to always keep a few dogs in the house in case someone comes who is adamant about having a house-trained dog.”

Sonia recommends males for active children because they love to play and the females for older people because they like to mainly sit around and be petted. But the first thing she teaches her future greyhound owners is to keep their new dogs on a leash or inside a fenced yard.

“If these dogs are not on a leash and they see a bird or a squirrel, they are not going to think about anything but chasing because that is what they are trained to do on the track,” Stratemann warns. “When they are on a leash they will stay right by your side, they are extremely loyal dogs. Most greyhounds can be trained to be around other small animals like cats and birds. My step-mom has one [greyhound] with birds. She has cockatiels that fly all around the house and the greyhound doesn't pay any attention to them. It just takes a while to train them to share the house with other animals.”

Stratemann says the greyhounds are very clean and do not have the occasional bad smell like other dogs she has worked with in the past. Their shedding is quite minimal; they do not eat any more than any other large breed dog, (about four cups a day). They are also known to be an extremely healthy breed. And all her dogs are vet-checked, spayed and neutered and have all their vaccinations before they are adopted.

Stratemann grew up around horses in a polo pony family but when she was eighteen she got her first greyhound named Jackson . She has had a deep passion toward the breed ever since. The adoration gleams from her heart as she stands beside the cages in her small but immaculately-clean adoption facility and talks about her greyhound infatuation.

“I love all dogs but there is something about a greyhound that is very special. Most people who adopt them say they will never have anything but a greyhound ever again. They're healing dogs. They are so sensitive to people's needs, especially when you are sick, they will just come and sit with you the whole time. They are especially good for people who need to feel loved because they will follow you wherever you go.”

You can visit Stratemann and her greyhounds by appointment at 851 Hyde Park Road, Loxahatchee, Fl. 33470.

For more information on Elite Greyhounds or to find out how you can adopt a greyhound, click here to contact Sonia.