Adopting a Greyhound. A Love story
Reading time: 8 minutes
As April is officially Adopt-a-Greyhound month we wanted to tell you Millie’s story - one of our pack here at Hiro and Wolf.
Like thousands of greyhounds, Millie was bred to race, in her case she was a course racer in County Wexford in Ireland. After a time she just wasn’t fast enough for her owner and before long found herself homeless. Luckily for her, she was fostered quickly and together with Homes for Unwanted Greyhounds (HUG), Norfolk Greyhound Rescue (NGR) leapt into action to find her a new home. Lots of greyhounds aren’t so lucky - but that’s another story.
Hundreds of miles away Beatrice and Philip (that’s us) were desperate to find a rescue dog to bring into our lives, we started reading about the numbers of greyhounds who are bred for racing (legal or not) and they either don’t make the grade to race or just aren’t quick enough anymore, and are then just discarded. The numbers are eye-watering. We’ve both always had dogs, but never a greyhound so decided to check out Norfolk Greyhound Rescue who, as it happened, were having one of their Big communal greyhound walks.
The walk had over 50 sighthounds and we were struck by how calm and chilled the walk was through the local woods. For such a mass of hounds there didn’t seem to be any of the barking or snapping we might expect given the numbers of dogs. Then at the end of the walk, a marquee had been put up for everyone to enjoy refreshments, we wondered what the big space in the middle of the room was for. We were bowled over when, as the hounds were let off their leads instead of begging at tables, they sauntered into the cleared space and just all lay down, legs flopped over each other and pretty much just snoozed! A greyhound Love-in!
That was it - not only was the myth of ‘greyhounds needing loads of exercise’ immediately busted but their gentle, calm natures had been laid bare. We were sold!
We then went through the process of chatting to Richard at NGR about our lifestyle and what home life would look like for our rescue greyhound. We knew we wanted a mature female who we’d be able to work with to make sure she could accompany us in all aspects of our lives. After the home check, getting insurance ready, finding a vet and making sure we had everything she would need when she arrived - things got underway quickly. And a few weeks later we got the call.
Millie was likely the perfect new best friend for us, we’d be meeting her in a few weeks.…and it was love at first sight.
Millie on the day we picked her up. OMG!
Millie’s first few months were much better than expected given that she was getting used to a new house, new family, stairs, traffic amongst other new experiences. She walked perfectly on the lead, (if a little timidly at first) was well house-trained already and lovely every waking moment - and not so waking moments - she lives for her copious naps!
Millie has been part of our lives now for over 2 and a half years and we’ve since moved to the coast (which she loves). Her personality has blossomed over this time. She’s much more confident, has learnt to play, largely due to her ‘cousin’ Jesse (a young rescue Saluki cross lurcher with truly boundless energy) and of course since joining the Hiro + Wolf pack, who are now her extended family.
When we’re at the Hiro + Wolf office she happily chills with her pack or enjoys greeting people if she’s in the shop. Her absolute Love though is when we all get to do a photoshoot together - she actually smiles when she gets in front of the camera! She does love Hiro but she’s particularly fond of Wolf. Here she is in the beautiful Inca Pink set - Amy was asking them both to look at her - Wolf just decided Millie could do the standing but he was good sitting, and Ben (the fabulous photographer) captured this gem!
Above, Millie posing with her Work husband, Wolf! Below, making new friends with Jeffrey on the beach also wearing Hiro + Wolf
When we’re not social distancing we go everywhere together: camping, markets, down the King's Road, beach or walks in the woods, dog-friendly cafes and pubs. She, like so many sighthounds, is easy-going, adaptable and an incredible addition to the family.
Millie likes a lie in on camping trips and here she is looking as gorgeous as ever, the 'butter wouldn't melt' look.
Given that lots of rehoming charities like Norfolk Greyhound Rescue would normally be working with members of the public to find homes for greyhounds like Millie, I wanted to ask Hayley at Norfolk Greyhound Rescue how it’s going during this Covid-19 lockdown.
Bea: Hayley - what are you able to do given the lockdown across the UK?
Hayley: We’ve been able to get dogs off gumtree and also from the dog warden, as well as making sure the people who had been selected to re-home our rescue dogs are good to go when the dogs are ready to come over from Ireland. We’ve also been able to get all the dogs reserved that we did have on our list before lockdown. Next week we have three dogs coming over who will be re-homed which is great. We’ve also had 60 applications for rescues so we’re talking to those applicants and getting ready for when we can get on with finding the dog that’s the right fit for them.
Bea: Is there anything people can do while we’re in this situation that can help greyhound charities like yourselves? I know there are greyhound and sighthound rehoming groups all over the UK.
Hayley: They can always support their local rehoming charities - for instance, we’re doing an auction next week and still raising money as we have ongoing vets bills to pay so staying connected and helping remotely is all appreciated. We’re strictly anti-racing so we get all our money from our supporters rather than the Retired Greyhound Trust which is supplemented by the racing industry so depending on how people feel about racing there are lots of different groups who need help. If people are keen it would be worth them thinking about fostering. Fostering saves more lives - it’s the key to helping rescue dogs.
If we can get 2 dogs away from their trainers where they are no longer wanted (and stop them from being euthanised) in Ireland if we have places where those dogs can be fostered that frees up space to get more dogs away from the track. When a rescue dog is with a foster family, in a home - we can learn about their personalities and habits and be in a better position to match them with their forever home. If a dog's in a kennel - we can’t tell people about them - so their foster homes are absolutely the key.
Bea: If people want to find out more about rehoming a rescue where’s the best place to start?
Hayley: Quite a lot of people at the moment, because they’re in lockdown and at home a lot are looking at getting puppies - often from the internet or breeders. I would ask people to seriously consider if they are sold on getting a puppy please think about going to rescue groups - there are plenty of puppies that need homes.
We are getting ready for when Lockdown finishes because we know that there’ll be lots of puppies and dogs that will have been more work than people were prepared to commit to. Unlike someone selling a puppy for money - a rescue charity will always take back a puppy - because that’s what we do - we look after unwanted dogs.
One misconception that I’d like to talk about is that there are still some people who think that somehow rescue dogs are ‘damaged goods’. This is absolutely not the case - any dog who is bought home to be with a new family, if they’re a puppy or a 3-year-old ex-racer, needs to be worked with to become part of that family. Any dog can chase a cat, or a fluffy pet, some but not all, greyhounds just tend to be quicker so we make people aware of that. Dogs that have been in kennels take the same effort and care as any new pet - it all comes down to the individual personalities and needs of each dog.
From there you'll find that any good rescue group will help you in your choice and preparation and make sure you get a rescue that is right for you.
Thanks, Hayley, Richard and everyone at the Norfolk Greyhound Rescue - not just for your time today but for the gift of Millie. We’ve met so many people whose sighthounds (and of course non-sighthounds!) have enriched their lives more than they ever thought. You guys work so tirelessly and we really appreciate it!
To find out more about the work that Hayley and Richard do check out Norfolk Greyhound Rescue.