I’ve always loved animals and we had dogs, cats and rabbits when I was young. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad saying ‘that dog is not lost and we are not taking it home’. I also helped out at the local riding school and that gave me the ‘horse bug’.
Having lost our chickens last year and had our ancient cat put to sleep, I have just two dogs and one horse at the minute.
I started rescuing greyhounds when I began my own business as a PR consultant working from home in 2003. I felt the circumstances were finally right for getting a dog. I read about the plight of the thousands of greyhounds that retire from racing every year, and I was hooked on this beautiful, noble breed.
If you add up all the dogs I’ve helped, it probably runs into hundreds. It’s a drop in the ocean but there are lots of people out there doing the same and hopefully we are making a difference.
Racing industry figures show that 8000 greyhounds retire every year. Some are rehomed via trainers handing them over to the Retired Greyhound Trust (RGT), which has rescue centres across the UK and is part-funded by the racing industry. Others are taken in by smaller rescues, usually run on a shoestring via a network of volunteers. Many greyhounds are picked up as strays, and because dogs at council-funded pounds have seven days to be claimed before they can be sold or put to sleep, finding a rescue space and then transporting them there – sometimes over many miles – can be an urgent job that needs a chain of volunteers.
As well as fostering and fundraising, volunteers also do home visits to help the rescue match the potential owner with the right dog. We’re not visiting to check the dust on the skirting boards! The more the rescue knows about the adopter and their lifestyle, the better job they can do.
Greyhounds are the original 40mph couch potatoes and good natured, gentle dogs who like their sleep. They don’t need lots of exercise, most of them are happy with a couple of 20 minute walks a day and the odd off-lead run, but appreciate some longer walks too. They are easy dogs to fall in love with and once you’ve got one you’ll want another.
I couldn’t choose a favourite rescue dog but my newest dog, Gorgeous George, is only three and knew nothing of life outside a kennel. Things such as carpets, stairs and televisions had his eyes out on stalks for months! He’s such a clown, he makes me laugh every single day.
My heart will always belong to pointy dogs. They have done their bit for the racing industry and they deserve a life away from the track. With patience and love they will repay your kindness over and over again.