Hounds of love

April 06th, 2017
Hounds of love
When viewed in full flight on the racetrack, greyhounds can look fierce and intimidating.

But as Mount Barker woman Carol Grubb knows, their true natures are anything but.

Carol started the walking group Greyhound Gatherings in her local district last May as a way for other greyhound owners to get together and enjoy a walk with their beloved dogs.

Through giving the breed more exposure in the community, she is hoping more people will come to see them as the gentle and lovable “couch potatoes” they really are.

“It’s a misconception that they need a lot of exercise,” she said.

“They’re sprinters so even though they’re wonderful athletes they’re basically a very lazy breed once they’ve had their walk or a quick run.

“Really they’re just a companion dog that wants to be by your side whether you’re sitting in your chair or out wandering around the park.

“And they’re extremely affectionate – the kind of dogs that change your life.”

Carol got drawn into the greyhound world five years ago when she adopted Vanilla Gorilla, a three and half year old hound whose racing career was over, through the not-for-profit Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) SA.

Now he’s known as Jasper and she could not imagine life without him.

“I often say to people that I’m really sorry I didn’t discover them earlier, because to me he’s the ultimate dog,” she said.

“He’s very quiet – he rarely barks – and he’s good with children right through to the elderly.

“He comes camping with us when we take our camper trailer out and is perfectly behaved in the caravan park.

“Basically wherever the family action is, he wants to be there.”

There are many more dogs out there like Jasper who – being either too slow or too old for the track – need long-term homes.

The greyhound racing industry has come under fire, nationally, for overbreeding and excessive euthanasia rates in recent years, with a Special Commission of Inquiry into the New South Wales industry last year estimating 50-70 per cent of the state’s racing greyhounds were euthanised once their track careers were over.

Greyhound Racing South Australia released figures last year to show 513 greyhounds in SA were euthanised in 2015, 31 of these due to injury, while another 639 were rehomed through adoption programs.

While acknowledging there are a mix of views on the sport, Carol wants the Greyhound Gatherings to be a time where members can put their politics aside and focus on the dogs themselves – lifting their profile so that as many as possible can have happy endings like Jasper.

“The more people who can adopt them, the less that are euthanised and that’s what we’re aiming for,” she said.

“We have members with a whole range of different views on greyhound racing but we don’t get into that.

“I just really wanted to promote the greyhounds and by having a walk we get lots of comments and attention from locals and passing traffic.”

People who pass them are encouraged to pat the dogs if they want to, which Carol said many do.

“You see everyone from children to ladies in the street with their walkers and they all want to pat them because they just give off a calmness,” she said.

“The greyhound as a pet is a fairly new thing.

“They’re fairly rare – not a breed that you commonly see just walking around so it’s something a little bit different for people.”

Group member Joy Fawcett, 75, adopted her greyhound Kasumi through GAP SA two years ago and recommends the option to other dog-lovers in the market for a new pet.

“She wasn’t very good at racing – she had 12 starts for 13 and she won $80,” Joy said.

“But I can’t even put a price on what she’s worth to me.

“If you’re thinking about adopting one, they really are delightful to have in your life.

“They’re the gentlest, sweetest things. They deserve to be pets even though not all of them get to be.”

In the year that she’s been attending Greyhound Gatherings, Joy said she’s built friendships, had fun and improved her fitness.

“It’s brought all these lovely people with these adorable greyhounds together and we get so much out of it,” she said.

“We do beautiful walks that keep you fit and healthy, and just seeing the most beautiful dogs all walking together is the most incredible sight.”

To date Joy has directly inspired at least one other local resident to welcome a greyhound into their home.

Mount Barker’s Lynda Moore adopted Twiggy, a black female, in October last year after seeing Joy walk Kasumi around the district.

Twiggy lives with Lynda’s cats and pomeranian-chihuahua cross, Basil, with no issues and plays gently with her two young grandsons.

“She’s so docile and friendly – she’s just no work,” Lynda said.

“It’s great to see more people coming in to just meet the group and to get an idea of what greyhounds are like, and hopefully to think about getting one of their own.”

Mount Barker Greyhound Gatherings take place on the second Sunday of each month from 10am.

Walks go for an hour and there is a shortcut option.

On June 11 they will take part in the Great Global Greyhound Walk, a worldwide event that aims to have as many greyhounds and owners walking together at the same time to promote the breed.

The next walk on April 9 is at Kuitpo Forest but the location changes each month. Visit the Mount Barker Greyhound Gatherings Facebook page for more information or to find out future locations.

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