Good Morning! I hope this message finds you well and that you are handling this heat ok! I know todays post is not food related however this is a matter that is close to my heart……
I was bought up with a love of animals, inparticular dogs. Growing up I always remember having dogs around. My parents, who are now retired, live on a beautiful property in the Hunter Valley NSW and train Greyhounds. It is their hobby and their love. Mum and Dads dogs are a real part of the family and they get treated almost like humans! (no kidding they have air conditioned dog kennels!) but what happens to the dogs that are too slow to race? That get injured? That get old?
My parents have a few “retired” Greyhounds that wander around the yard and have cosy positions on the lounges inside…
…but there is only a certain number you can keep and look after yourself…..that is why it is so very important I share with you todays story….
I have had the priviledge of doing 3 interviews for this story. First of all my Dad, Wal. A trainer, owner and lover of Greyhounds. Secondly from Lori, who is the re-homing and welfare operations leader of GAP and thirdly, an interview that will touch your heart, from a lovely couple, Nick and Monty, who have adopted a Greyhound “Jack” who is spoilt rotten!!!!!!
“GAP” Greyhounds as Pets
Interview from Wal – trainer and owner of Greyhounds
How long have you been training Greyhounds for?
On and off I have been training greyhounds since I was 16. I am now 62. During these 46 years I’ve had one long break of about 15 years. This was while my two daughters were growing up and we became involved in their activities such as physical culture, etc.
How did you get first involved in training Greyhounds?
I was one of 4 mates that would gamble on the horses every Saturday. Even though we were all underage we would get some adult to place our bets at the TAB. Sometimes we went to the races at Randwick, Rosehill or even Warwick Farm. One day out of the blue one of the guys suggested we buy a greyhound to race. So we did. We read the greyhound classifieds and purchased a pup from a local breeder at Chester Hill. Her name was Chris, racing name Crystal Ruler. She won at her first start at Mudgee but had a restricted racing career due to injury.
What do you like about Training Greyhounds?
It’s the excitement of the race. And the thrill when you win. Taking the greyhounds for a walk is also an enjoyable pastime; they enjoy it and you enjoy it. Although walking is not the main form of exercise anymore. It is considered that galloping regularly is more beneficial to their fitness.
Are Greyhounds aggressive animals? Why do they wear muzzles?
Definitely not, far from it ….well, as far as humans are concerned. Greyhounds natural instinct is to chase game, eg. Hares, etc. This is how they are genetically made. Because of this behaviour they are required to wear muzzles in public. If a fluffy little dog runs up to it the greyhound may consider it to be prey.
How many Greyhounds have you had?
Too many to count!!!!!
How many do you have now?
At the moment we have 10 greyhounds on our one acre property. Three of these are in full training as racing greyhounds. Five are ex-racers that have now retired and wander the property as pets. Then there are two 8 month old pups in the back paddock being reared.
What happens with your Greyhounds if they are not suitable for racing or when they get too old to race?
There are a few organisations which re-homes greyhounds as pets. You can find them on the internet. The organisation funded by the greyhound industry is called GAP.
What do you like about GAP?
We have used GAP a few times and have been very happy with the outcomes. They are professionally run by genuinely caring people. Once the greyhound is accepted by them they will keep the dog as long as it takes to find a new home and owner.
Do you think Greyhounds are good family pets and why?
Greyhounds make wonderful pets. They have featured on many TV programmes over the years and I think most people realise this. The muzzle in public give them a false appearance. As far as humans go, they love human company. They will follow you around all day and love to be patted. They are actually a low maintenance pet. They have short hair which doesn’t shed greatly. They are basically couch potatoes. They will sleep all day. They are very clean animals. They keep themselves clean as well as their kennels. They love to come inside and have excellent toilet manners. They are exceptionally friendly with children. A child can pull at, tease or even dress up a greyhound. They will show no aggression towards humans. As a watch dog they are fairly useless. Sure they will bark to let you know someone is walking past or at the gate, but if a stranger was then to come in they would lick them to death.
Interview from Lori – from Greyhounds as Pets
Did you have anything to do with Greyhounds before working at Greyhounds As Pets?
Yes, I’ve been involved with Greyhounds since I was about 8 years old through family friends who had racing Greyhounds and retired pets also. I’ve always loved animals but up until I met my first Greyhound at around age 8, I’d never had anything to do with them. I admit, like most people, I first thought they were just skinny dogs! I couldn’t have been farther from the truth and after my fist encounter I was well and truly in love with the breed and they soon became my passion.
When did you start working there?
I started in my role as Greyhounds As Pets Co-ordinator NSW in September 2011, in a maternity leave position. My predecessor has since returned to work in a different role within Greyhounds As Pets and my position title is now Re-homing and Welfare Operations Leader for Greyhounds As Pets.
What do people have to do if they want to adopt a dog?
Adopting one of our Greyhounds is simple. The first step in starting the ball rolling is to submit an adoption application and property checklist form. Once we review this to determine that a Greyhound is in fact suitable for the applicant based on their home life and lifestyle as well as the presence of other pets, children etc. we survey the current dogs in the program to determine which dog may be best suited to the applicants situation. An applicant may have certain requirements for example sex, colour, cat friendliness etc and we best accommodate these were possible in order to get the right dog for the applicant. At the time if there is no suitable dog (there usually is) we discuss this with the applicant and hope that they are willing to be patient until such time as a suitable dog comes about which usually doesn’t take too long. We can give an applicant any dog but we pride ourselves on getting the right dog from the start. This doesn’t always happen…bottom line is that they are animals and can be unpredictable but we do all we can to make sure we get things right from the start.
Why do you think people should adopt a Greyhound? In your opinion, do Greyhounds make good pets?
Greyhounds make wonderful pets and are very easily adaptable to different lifestyles. There are many misconceptions about the breed and until you get to know them you will understand that these misconceptions are very untrue.
For example, the elephant in the room is the muzzle issue. People see a dog that is more often than not muzzled when in public and naturally form a negative opinion. The reason why Greyhounds are/were muzzled is due to an outdated law from the 1960’s when Greyhounds tended to be thought of as a racing dog only and not the much loved pet that they are so widely considered as now. However, thankfully the law was changed in 2011 to allow Greyhounds that complete a 6 week re-training program and are then successfully assessed can be issued with a muzzling exemption and special ‘Greenhound’ collar to signify that they are safe with small dogs and legally allowed to go muzzle free in public. Presently, Greyhounds As Pets is the only Approved Program of the Greenhounds initiative in NSW where our program can have dogs available for adoption with this muzzling exemption already in place. To achieve this the Greyhound has done a minimum of 6 weeks of fostering and socialisation prior to being re-assessed for Greenhound status prior to being re-homed.
Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, Greyhounds don’t need much room. Although they are an athletic breed they are sprinters, therefore have little amount of stamina and are happy to snooze around for much of the day provided they are given a walk once or twice a day like any other breed.
All our Greyhounds (adopted via Greyhounds As Pets) are assessed to ensure they are safe with small dogs amongst other testing for safety around food, toys etc. Some of our Greyhounds are in fact cat friendly.
Greyhounds make a terrific companion tp dog families with children, single people and the elderly, alike. They do not have a doggy odour and have a thin coat which sheds little thus making them suitable for people with allergies etc.
What happens if the Greyhounds don’t get adopted?
The Greyhounds that enter our program are assessed, and pending this they are then desexed, have their teeth cleaned, are microchipped, vaccinated (completed prior) then undergo a minimum of 6 weeks of fostering either by our carers out in the community or within one of the 6 positions available within a women’s correctional facility whereby the female inmates work through this fostering time with the dogs, whilst simultaneously completing TAFE approved courses in animal care etc. At the end of this time the dog is available to be re-homed and if there is no one available to take on the dog at this time the dogs stay within its foster home until such time as a suitable applicant becomes available. The dog continues to gain valuable life experiences to assist it in its future life.
Is there a minimum and maximum age?
No, we have dogs enter the program of all ages. Occasionally we have puppies available (this does not happen too often), however ages of dogs within the program mostly vary from approximately
18 months to about 5 years. We often have dogs older than 5 years and have recently re-homed two females, 8 and 9 years of age respectively.
How do you know if the dogs are suitable to go to homes?
As previously mentioned our Greyhounds undergo a behavioural assessment prior to entering the training/fostering program to determine their suitability and safety to go into a home, often suburban environment. The fostering program is a time of constant evaluation and learning for both the Greyhounds and our staff which assists us in placing a specific dog into a specific home.
Where are your GAP dogs located?
We have a number of dogs in foster homes within the community of the Greater Sydney area from the South Coast to Newcastle as well as our foster kennels at the women’s correctional facility in Western Sydney.
How can I get involved?
There are a number of ways you can get involved:
- Adopting – adopting a Greyhounds As Pets dog is a rewarding experience that keeps on giving.
- Foster caring – the role of the foster career is so valuable to the Greyhounds in their quest to pet life, with the foster carer assisting the dog in this transitional period from life as a racing dog to life in the slower lane of being a pet! All equipment and dry food are supplied to the carer by Greyhounds As Pets
- Foster with a view to adopt – for those of you that are keen to help but are not sure at this point if you can commitment to full time pet ownership fostering or fostering with a view of adopting is like a ‘try before you buy’ and allows you to fully experience Greyhound ownership whilst assisting the dog for its future yet not with the decision hanging over your head if you want to commit of a full time basis after the foster period of 6 weeks.
Contact details (Freecall) 1800 696 377
Interview – Nick and Monty – recently adopted “Jack”
Have you owned or adopted a dog before?
We both grew up in families that had pet dogs, but before Jack we hadn’t had one as adults.
Have you had anything to do with Greyhounds before?
Only the occasional visit to the races at Wentworth Park for a fun Saturday night out. We would bet on the ones with the coolest names, and admire their speed on the track and what beautiful dogs they are.
What made you decide to adopt a dog?
I guess that is a question like “why did you decide to have children?”… it’s just something that is part of who we are. We are both ‘dog people’ rather than ‘cat people’ and once our circumstances allowed it, we were keen to have a dog become part of our family, and bring on the next chapter of our lives.
What made you choose a Greyhound?
We did a lot of research about different breeds and the type that would suit a small house in the inner city as well as our fit into our busy work schedule. We are both tall and wanted a largish ‘hound’ breed, rather than a small fluffy one, and we needed a dog that would cope with being at home by itself while we were at work. We also wanted to get a rescue dog rather than contribute to puppy breeding.
We were happy to learn that greyhounds are really lazy, sleep a lot, don’t need much exercise (contrary to many people’s perceptions), and tend not to bark. Everything seemed to point towards getting a greyhound. Also, people always say you end up looking like your dog, so better to get a tall, muscular, handsome one.
The only negative at the time we got Jack was the muzzling requirement – but that law has since been amended, and Jack now has his green hound collar and no longer needs to wear a muzzle when out in public.
Why did you choose Jack?
Take a look at the photo and ask who wouldn’t! It was love at first sight.
What do you love most about Jack now that he is part of your family?
There is so much to love about Jack. He has a big personality and over the two years he’s been with us, we’ve watched his confidence grow. He is very affectionate with us, and in the evenings when he is relaxed he will often roll onto his back to get his tummy scratched (yes, he does have us well trained!). He rolls his eyes back so only the whites show, and opens his mouth so he looks like he’s grinning – he looks ridiculous. If we dare to stop scratching, he’ll reach out his paw to remind us what we should be doing.
Getting home from work is a lot of fun too. Jack gets very excited and is always happy when he hears the keys in the door and will run up and down the house, give us kisses and sort of spin around to do little dances with us.
Jack seems to really enjoy life, and loves going on car journeys, exploring new places like the beach, and meeting new people. He has got to know our friends and family, and is great friends with Monty’s five-year-old nephew.
We are also lucky to have got in touch with Jack’s trainers, Wal and Helen, from his racing days , and they have now become part of the family. Jack loves going to visit, as he gets to see his mother Susie, his sister Sophie and his brother Max. He gets very excited when he sees the other racing dogs training and wants to join in. It’s also good to know Jack’s past, and that he was well taken care of before he came to us.
Please tell me about the experience with dealing with GAP?
GAP were excellent. Lara brought Jack to our house to introduce us, and checked our home to ensure it was suitable for him. The GAP team is very supportive, providing help and advice, and there is even a manual covering all the information you need to own a greyhound.
We keep in touch with GAP via Facebook and newsletters, to hear about greyhound events where we can socialise Jack with other dogs and hopefully show other people what awesome pets they make.
Would you recommend GAP to others and why?
Absolutely! Getting any dog is a big decision and GAP support you through that process. They will take the dog back if you feel you have made a wrong decision or if your situation changes in the future – the welfare of the greyhounds is their top priority.
Although we went straight to adoption, you can also foster a greyhound for six weeks as part of its transition into pet life – this would be a great way to see if the breed works for you.
A massive THANK YOU to Mum, Dad, Lori, Nick and Monty for taking the to speak with me and share these stories. I hope that todays blog has informed you, interested you and inspired you to consider adopting a dog that needs a loving home……
Are you looking for a new pet to love, who will become a member of the family? Do you think you can help out with Foster Caring? Why not contact Lori and the staff today……
(Freecall) 1800 696 377
Wishing you a wonderful rest of the week!
Take Care of You,