My name’s April and I would love to share my story with you. It all began in NSW in 2002. My mum Stacey (racing name Leonardo’s Bride) gave birth to my sisters Shawee and Baby, my brother Milagro and me. Our dad, Stately Bird, was no-where to be seen at the time as he was busily winning races! But that didn’t matter – we had each other and we were grateful for that. When I was being born, I got a bit stuck and had to be pulled out. Unfortunately it did some damage to my foot and it’s never been normal since. We grew up with a trainer and he and his wife were good to us. As we grew from gangly, short-nosed pups, our owner could see that my siblings had inherited their mum and dad’s good racing pedigree and started their training. It all seemed very glamorous to me, but because of my club foot I did not join them. I had to wait in the backyard for them to come home and tell me all about the outside world. They were given lovely racing names, but I was only ever called April, after the month in which we were born (not much imagination there!) as it had become obvious that I would never race. I could only hop around on 3 legs most of the time as it hurt to put my foot on the hard services. If was on grass or chasing my siblings, I forgot about the pain and used all 4 feet! Despite my obvious disability, I grew into a handsome girl who looked just like my mum and sister and was pretty happy about life – nothing much fazed me and I enjoyed spending time with my family. I spent a lot of time lazing about but most of the time it was on concrete so I developed hard callouses on my elbow which is not very ladylike!
We were some of the lucky ones – our owner kept us even past the time we could win any races, and of course I couldn’t ever do anything but be sweet and hop around a lot. Eventually, however, in 2010, hard times fell on our owners and they couldn’t keep us anymore. Janet and Peter from Greyhound Rescue took us in as a family (including Princess who is my half sister from an earlier litter) and let us live with them for a while with all their other dogs. It was fun, but there were so many of us they had to find us new homes. Shawee, Baby, Princess and Milagro were all found lovely forever homes quite quickly but mum and I were going to be a bit of a problem. Mum was now nearly 14 years old and I was 8 and had special needs as far as my leg was concerned.
On the saddest day of my life, my beautiful mum Stacey passed away in September 2010. I didn’t understand what had happened and was very stressed. For 8 years of my life I’d never been apart from mum and my siblings and now I found myself alone. What would become of me? Who would want an old girl who couldn’t go for very long walks?
And then it happened – the start of the rest of my life! Kylie and Mike in Melbourne had been considering fostering a greyhound a year and a half after their beautiful dog Ralph passed away aged 4 from lymphoma. They didn’t know if they were ready to have another dog but Ralph’s brother Rupert had been depressed since the loss of his best mate and they thought a new friend might cheer him up.
So they thought they’d try fostering for a while to see how everyone got on. Next thing I knew I was on a plane (that was a bit weird!) to Melbourne and a couple of days later I met my new family. Rupert (I now call him Rupie) is a cutie – he was a bit wary of me at first and bossed me around a bit to let me know it was his place and he’d lay down the ground rules – fair enough, I reckon. I was just happy to have a new friend and some owners who really love me. I was given a beautiful soft bean bag to sleep in (no more concrete and callouses for me!), a jumper, a coat, a very stylish new collar and really yummy food and treats. My first couple of days were a bit strange while we all got used to each other and the routine in the house, but to everyone’s amazement, I soon settled in as though I’d lived there forever. Even with my funny foot, if I crouched down enough I could use the doggy door so that I could pop outside and lie on the grass (yes, grass!) in the sun when I wanted, or go back inside and snuggle up on my bag when I needed a snooze (the life of a greyhound can be quite exhausting!).
When it came time to put me up for adoption, it seemed I had wormed my way into the hearts of my new family – they say I am quite a character and make them laugh – and they decided they could not let me go to yet another home, so they made the adoption official.
So now I live in comparative luxury, get a walk every day on grass, (I already know the W word!), get loads of cuddles and tummy rubs and when I’m really good, which is most of the time, I’m allowed to sleep on the floor on my mat (or the doona) at the end of the bed (Rupie sometimes sleeps on top of the bed but I can’t get up there anyway because of my foot). Don’t tell Kylie and Mike but I quite like the new wing chair in the sunroom and have a bit of a snooze on that when they’re out! I’ve even got a nickname – Pixie – because my ears stick straight up when I’m looking at something interesting! And now I have another – Apie Scrapie – because I like ‘scraping’ my bed into a nice little nest before I settle down!
I’m now 10 years old but very young at heart. I love my walks everyday but because of my club foot, I can’t walk for very long – about 15 mins if I can walk on grass (or I love to walk on sand when we go on beach holidays). However as I age, even though I’m very fit now, I can’t walk for long on the hard surfaces of the inner suburbs where we live (Mike actually carried me part way home the other day – very funny – Rupie didn’t quite know what was wrong and showed lots of concern, though I was just enjoying the ride!).
A while ago Kylie and Mike realised it was going to get harder for me to join them and Rupie on walks, and they were still keen to involve me in outings. They knew there had to be a solution. So, after a bit of research, they found Classy Tails, a business that specialises in mobile pet carriers. Now, as I’m about 27 kilos (a very lean girl at that) I couldn’t exactly be carried around in a ‘Paris Hilton’ type handbag! The lovely Fotini from Classy Tails had just what we needed – a very slick looking stroller that I could hop into once I’d done enough walking, and still continue on the adventure with the rest of the family. Mike was a bit embarrassed at first about pushing a large ‘baby’ around, but now likes the attention I get – everyone wants to know why Rupie has to walk and I get pushed around like a princess!
If you’ve ever thought of finding a new doggy friend, why not do a bit of research into what greyt pets we greyhounds make and you could make a dog like me very happy!