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Rupert The Brave

“Rupert The Brave”

(The Protector)

By Kylie Southgate

Every night before going to sleep, my baby sister Chelsea asks me the same thing.

‘Please tell me the story of ‘Rupert the Brave’.

‘Aren’t you tired yet of that story Chelsea?’ I sigh in mock disbelief, I am secretly thrilled she still likes to hear it.

‘Noooo.  I love that story.  It helps me go to sleep and to feel safe,’ she says, her big brown eyes looking at me through her long dark lashes.

‘Okay then, as long as you promise to go straight to sleep afterwards, and don’t get up to wander through the house during the night.’

‘I promise, I promise.’ Chelsea bounces up and down excitedly on the edge of her bed.

‘Settle down young miss, lie on your bed and curl up nice and small,’ I say in my best big-sister voice.

Chelsea hops into her bed, puts her head on the pillow and tucks her long legs up beneath her.

Chelsea asleep

‘I’m ready Billie. See I’m being a good girl.’

‘That’s very good Chelsea.  Now, where shall we start?’

‘At the very beginning Billie. I want to hear the whole story.’

I settle on to the bed next to Chelsea and reach out so my paw is resting on hers.   The story of ‘Rupert the Brave has been passed down through the generations and has become legendry amongst our greyhound friends.  I never tire of telling the story to Chelsea and hope one day she will tell it to her children, and so on.

‘Once upon a time, a long time ago, when your great, great grandmother was a girl, greyhounds were forced to race around a track. Some of them had to chase terrified possums or rabbits and even cute piglets who were tied to a lure, squealing for mercy. Even back then, greyhounds were gentle creatures and didn’t want to hurt the poor little animals. They didn’t want to run for money either. But if they didn’t win, they were treated badly by their keepers. They were given poor food, little shelter and only had concrete floors for a bed.  There was no time for fun or long walks in the park.  Some got bad injuries and were left maimed and untreated.  Some were taken out to the bush and shot, with their ears cut off, their identities stolen forever.’  I pause for a moment to let Chelsea wrinkle her nose and shudder at the horror, as she always did.

‘But others were much luckier and were rescued by kindly folk who found them lovely homes.  They were allowed to meet with their friends, go on long walks together and sleep on warm soft beds inside nice houses’. Chelsea smiles, glad she has only ever known kindness, compassion and love.

‘One day, early in summer, a group of rescued greyhounds met at the park for a walk.  As each one arrived, they gave the customary greeting; a wag of the tail, a sniff of the bottom and a little kiss on the muzzle.

Jeffery was the only male in the group that day.  He was a big fair haired boy with kind eyes. Jeffery liked everyone and everyone liked Jeffery.  The big scar on his back leg was evidence that his life had not always been as happy as it was on that day though. He didn’t like to talk much about what had happened to him, but he was not one to hold grudges and was a fine example to the newer members of the group of how to remain dignified despite a difficult past.

Jeffery and Molly

Jeffery shared his home with Molly and sometimes he gave her snippets about his racing days.  She was normally a shy girl but knowing a little of what he’d been through she was protective of Jeffery, and thought of him as her big, gentle older brother.  She was petite and pretty with dark hair and dainty white feet.  Molly had been in some races too, but she didn’t like it, and she didn’t like having to share her food and her racing kennel with anyone else. Now that she was safe, Jeffery was teaching her to be tolerant and kind to other greyhounds.  She liked everyone else in the group well enough once she got to know them, but was still wary of strangers.

Lady was a gorgeous, quiet girl with blue hair and enquiring amber eyes. She had been too small to race fast enough so was given up by her owner, to whom she was of no use, to a rescue group. She now lived in a lovely, safe warm home.  She had fallen for Jeffery the moment she met him on her first group walk. He returned her affection in a way that made her feel special, but she noticed he was careful not to exclude the other ladies either.

‘Hello Jeffery,’ Lady said demurely, as she gently nuzzled his face. ‘Hello Lady, it’s lovely to see you again.  Would you care to walk with me today?’

‘Thank you, that would be most pleasant Jeffery’ she said, blushing profusely.

Casey was the senior of the group. She had been dark haired in her youth but was now greying around her long muzzle and her flanks.  Her eyes were kind but becoming hazy with age.  Casey had raced many years ago; almost too ago long for her to remember the bad things that happened. All she knew was cold water made her nervous, but she wasn’t sure why.

‘Okay, ladies, I think we’re ready.  Don’t get too far apart and we can have a lovely time today,’ said Jeffery as he moved majestically towards the path.

I paused to see if Chelsea was asleep yet.  ‘Don’t stop there Billie. This is where the good bit starts.’

‘Just rest your head Chelsea and I’ll tell you the rest of the story.’

‘Before the group had walked very far, a strange looking dog appeared, almost as though from nowhere.  To the tall, lean, elegant greyhounds, he looked quite odd. He had short legs, a stout body and a very short nose.  His hair was blonde and coarse and his head was square.  ‘Who are you?’ asked Jeffery suspiciously, the girls lining up behind him.

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‘My name is Rupert.’ His was voice loud and gruff, which startled the group.

‘What do you want with us?’

‘I would like to be your friend. I would like to come on your walk, and to show you how to have a good time.  I won’t hurt you.  I can protect you.’

Molly looked at him and scoffed.  How would this short, stout, ugly dog protect them?  They were large and fast and could outrun anything.

‘We don’t need your protection thank you Rupert. You can join us though, but if you upset any of the ladies, I’ll make sure you are banished from this park’ Jeffery growled.

‘Can’t say fairer than that.  Let’s go then,’ called Rupert cheerily over his shoulder.

Jeffery and Lady walked together, brushing shoulders occasionally. Molly sulked close by, unhappy Jeffery had let Rupert join them and spoil their walk. She didn’t like the look of him and wanted him to go away.

Casey walked quietly not far behind.  They all ambled slowly along the walking track, stopping to sniff bushes and trees along the way.  The creek meandered beside them, bubbling over rocks and around fallen branches.

Rupert stayed just ahead of the pack but every now and then he would dart back to make sure no-one was left behind.  He slowed his pace to fall in beside Molly to make sure she was alright.  He could sense her dislike of him, and had experienced this kind of discrimination before.  He couldn’t help the way he looked.  It wasn’t his fault that people were suspicious and frightened of him when they met him, even before they knew him.   He was an easy-going chap, but sometimes others wouldn’t even give him a chance to prove it.  He was determined to show the greyhounds, especially Molly, that he was not a threat to her, and that he was in fact quite nice.

‘Is everyone else okay?’ chirped Rupert.  ‘Yes were fine, thanks’ said Casey.  ‘We may walk slowly but we are happy to keep going’.

‘I’ve got an idea .  There’s a good place up ahead where it’s safe for us all to have a run and a play.  Who’s ready?’ Rupert asked enthusiastically, already bounding ahead.

‘We are.’ With Jeffery by her side Lady was feeling quietly confident.

Rupert led the group up a hill to a hole in the fence.  He ran through easily on his short legs, but he was startled to see the greyhounds had to get on their knees to crawl through.  How funny, he mused.  He thought of them as such elegant, graceful creatures but now they just looked plain silly; their long legs stretched out in front and their backs crouched down in a sphinx-like pose. One by one they squeezed through and when they topped the hill, there was open space as far as they could see.

‘Come on everyone, go crazy. Run. Just run for the fun of it.’ called Rupert as he darted from here to there and back again.

Greyhounds had not always been allowed to run just for the fun of it.  They had been made to run on a track and chase lures and be jeered at.  They had to run further and faster than they were able.  Sometimes they collapsed with exhaustion at the end of the race and even after they had given it their all, they were told they were useless and good for nothing.

But now, after many years of campaigning to close down the repugnant industry, greyhounds were finally free to run and run and do zoomies and spins, just because they wanted to.

greyhounds in park

Jeffery, Lady, Molly and even old Casey had a wonderful time playing in the sunshine.  But after ten minutes, everyone was pooped and had to lie down to rest for a while.

‘It’s time to head back down the hill now’ said Rupert. He ran around to everyone and gently nosed them to their feet.  ‘I’ve got a few other fun things to do before we’re done .’

Rupert’s enthusiasm was contagious, and although the greyhounds were feeling tired, they followed his lead and headed towards the creek.

At the bottom of the hill, there was a crossing made of large rocks that had been placed across the creek.  Rupert bounded ahead, very sure of his footing, and waited on the opposite bank.

‘Come on, it’s easy.’

‘Ladies first.’ Jeffery was always the gentleman.  ‘I’ll wait here to make sure everyone gets across safely.’

Molly, usually shy, was the first to try.  She put one long leg out and then the other and gingerly picked her way over the rocks without getting her feet wet. She was very pleased with herself on reaching the other side ‘Did you see how well I managed on my own, Rupert?’

‘You did very well Molly. Now please tell the others to come too’.

‘Come on girls.  It’s okay, even a bit fun.’ Molly called out across the creek.  She was enjoying herself immensely and was surprised at how nice a non-greyhound could actually be. Perhaps she had been too quick to judge him.

Lady came next and reached the other side easily, even stopping for a drink of the cool, clean water half way across.

Casey was more reluctant.  ‘I don’t think I can do it Jeffery’ she said, embarrassed.  ‘I’m too old to learn new tricks and I’m scared I might slip into the cold water’.

‘It’s okay Casey, I’ll follow right behind you, and I won’t let you fall’ he said, nudging her gently.

Rupert, ever the optimist, encouraged Molly and Lady to give Casey some support. ‘Ladies, let’s make Casey laugh and forget her fears’.

Come on Casey, come on, come on, come on Casey come on!’ he led them in song.  Despite her apprehension, Casey couldn’t help herself and barked out loud.

Slowly but surely, and with Jeffery to steady her, Casey made it to the other side without incident.  ‘Now we know where the saying comes from – you can teach old dogs new tricks .’ Rupert quipped. ‘Well done Casey, we’re proud of you.’

‘Thanks everyone.’ Casey smiled to herself, realising she must have finally overcome her fear of water.

On the way back to where their walk started, there was green, lush grass under big shady gum trees. They had another lie down, a roll on their backs and a frolick.

‘The sun is now high in the sky and we’ll start to get burnt.  I think we should go home now; it’s time for our mid-day nap anyway.’ Jeffery took charge as usual.

‘Yes, I’m tired and thirsty; it’s been a big day so far’ said Casey. ‘But a lot of fun.’

‘I know a place where we can have a drink and cool our feet on the way back.’ Rupert seemed blessed with boundless energy.  His eyes were bright and his little legs had to go at double speed to keep up with the long strides of the greyhounds but he didn’t show any signs of tiring.

They rounded a bend and before them was a beautiful sight.  There was a big swimming hole and the creek spilled gently over at one end, creating a little waterfall. Large gum trees flanked the banks of the creek and their rugged boughs stretched out, dappled shade providing protection from the hot sun. A huge flat rock bordered the water and allowed the greyhounds to stand comfortably to drink and to paddle to cool their tired feet.

‘This is a lovely, peaceful place Rupert, thank you for bringing us here.’

‘It’s my pleasure to show it to you, Molly.  It’s one of my favourite places to rest and paddle and I’m glad you like it too.’  It seems he was finally winning her over.

Rupert went for a wander and a sniff further down the creek where he knew some of his other friends had been earlier in the day, and checked his wee-mails.

The greyhounds replenished themselves with the clear water and stood quietly for a few moments.

Without warning, their peace was shattered.  A small, angry, fluffy, dog, full of self-importance came hurtling over the creek bank and ran straight into the middle of the greyhounds.  He yapped and yipped so loudly and fiercely nobody could understand a word he said.  His voice was loud and squeaky but he sounded angry. He darted from here to there, nipping at heels and jumping at faces.  Nobody knew what to do. They were not used to being attacked by other dogs.

‘Get this annoying little thing away from me.’ Molly finally found her voice, no longer able to contain her disdain for something so small.  She reeled around and snapped back at the little critter, making him more angry. He screeched at her and bit her painfully on her hocks.  ‘Ouch, that hurt. Go away you little monster.’ Molly, with ears flat back and her head stretched out, was ready to strike if he tried to bite her again. ‘Jeffery do something, don’t just stand there.’

Jeffery, usually calm and composed, was terrified that Molly and the other ladies would be seriously hurt. He wanted to help, but he didn’t like confrontation and didn’t know what to do.  He stood rooted to the spot, himself frightened of the crazy rampaging fluffy dog in their midst.  He remained standing still, his tail between his legs, embarrassed by his incompetence.

‘Help. Help. Rupert where are you?  Please help us,’ Lady called out desperately.

Rupert was busy sniffing in the bushes, exploring new scents.  He was vaguely aware of a kerfuffle going on back at the creek, but assumed Jeffery, as their leader, would be able to deal with it.  But on hearing his name, Rupert jerked his head up high, cocked an ear to the sky and immediately knew what he had to do.

‘I’m coming.’ Rupert charged out of the bushes like a mad man, his tail held high, his chest puffed out in front of him, and his square head looking formidable, ears pricked forward showing he meant business.

He ran full pelt at the angry little dog, shouting at him with words the gentle, gracious greyhounds had not heard before.  The plucky little dog saw him coming and for a moment contemplated tackling him head on; but quickly had second thoughts when taking in Rupert’s strong jaw line and deep, menacing eyes.

He took one last nip at the shuffling, nervous feet of the greyhounds and then high-tailed it up the bank, Rupert in full-flight only metres away.  The little dog was nimble and sure footed, but his strength was no match for the stocky and powerful legs that propelled Rupert.

Rupert was on his tail in a few paces; there was no need for violence; harsh words and threats were all that was required, and the little dog was no longer so self-assured.  Frightened and intimidated, he ran for his life.

‘Go away and stay away. You’re not welcome here if you’re going to be nasty to these lovely dogs.’ Rupert continued to follow the yappy dog, angry and threatening. He knew it would not come back.  He stopped and watched for a while longer until it was out of sight. He returned to the creek bank and stood at the top, looking down at the huddle of greyhounds, still unable to move.

‘It’s okay, he’s gone and won’t be coming back.  You’re all safe now.  Is anyone hurt?’ he called down.

‘My foot is sore.’ Molly held her hind leg up for effect. ‘But I’ll be okay. Thanks to you.’ Molly bowed her head, glad to she had given this larrikin a chance to be her friend.

‘Thank you Rupert.  You were so brave.’ Lady sidled up to him and gave him a peck on his cheek.

‘Oh Rupert, thank you.  I was afraid the little dog would pick on me next as I’m old.  But you made sure I was safe.’ Casey kissed him gently on his short muzzle.

Jeffery had finally recovered his composure. ‘On behalf of myself and the ladies, I would like to thank you, Rupert, for your courage and bravery. You must come on all our walks and be our protector.’

“It would be my pleasure.” Rupert puffed out his chest, ran around the group, giving each greyhound a friendly lick on the nose. “I will make sure greyhounds are free to run without fear whenever they want,” he vowed.

And so the legend began – ‘Rupert the Brave, Protector of the Greyhounds’.

‘THE END’

I looked at Chelsea. She had tucked her nose under her paw, a smile on her long lips. Her eyelids fluttered gently. I knew she was already having sweet dreams; looking forward to the time she’d be old enough to have an adventure like Jeffery, Molly, Lady and Casey. And of the plucky little fellow who would keep her safe.

‘Good night baby girl, sleep tight.’ I brushed my lips across her forehead and lay down beside her.   We surely are the lucky ones.

 

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Chelsea (left) and Billie (right)

 

 

 

 

 


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A New Year, A New Dog

Happy New Year to all our friends in blog land.  I haven’t had much time lately to follow all your lovely posts so I do apologise.   I have been very involved with our rescue group – Amazing Greys – helping with the administration – answering emails, sending adoption and foster applications out, organising house checks, updating the website etc.  So I’m afraid my blog has been a little neglected of late.

But we have some good news to start the new year – we have foster failed again and will be keeping Chelsea!  Despite our best efforts, and my husband’s determination to prove that we can foster dogs without keeping them, she’ll be staying with us!

You may remember from the last post in September a few weeks after she’d arrived that she was a little CRAZY when out walking on seeing cats or other dogs, and jumps around like a lunatic when it’s walk time?  Well, she’s still a bit like that, but she has settled down a lot at home and gets on really well with Billie and Rupie – they have all become pretty good friends.

She’s quite the goofy girl and is extremely affectionate and even quite smart.  She’s learnt to sit when there’s food around (not an instinctive thing for a greyhound to do) and is no longer pushy when we sit down for our dinner.  She happily sleeps in her bean bag, or beside our bed all night and only jumps up in the morning for a cuddle.

It’s definitely more work to have 3 dogs than 2 (lots more poo to pick up!!), but she’s brought a lot of laughs into the house and she seems so happy here that it would be a shame to uproot her and get her settled with someone else.  (That’s our excuse anyway!)

So we’ve failed again – but it’s a good fail!!  Welcome Home Chelsea xx

 

 

 


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Chelsea Girl

Nearly two weeks ago, we decided it was time to foster another greyhound!  It is nearly 12 months since our beautiful old girl April went to the Rainbow Bridge and we felt it was time to help another dog in need of saving from the cruelty of the racing industry.

The rescue group we’re involved with – Amazing Greys – had 5 on the books needing a foster home.  So we asked if there was a female available (Rupie seems to like the girls best) and there was – a lovely fawn girl called – Crazy!

Oh dear.  Did her name reflect her personality?  We had agonized over the decision to bring another dog into the house – we have a lovely balance and friendship with Rupie and Billie.  Everything is calm and organised and routine.  What would a dog called Crazy do to that harmony?

We were assured her name wasn’t an indication of her personality (an ironic name, perhaps?) so we said we’d foster her, as long as we could change her name.  After all, what young lady wants to be called Crazy?  So we re-named her Chelsea.  Less than a week later, after picking her up from a road transport, she arrived!

She was quite anxious and excitable, but she’d had at least a 10 hour road trip in a small dog trailer so it was no wonder.

After initial introductions, all seemed well, although Chelsea was quite full on and in Billie and Rupie’s faces.  They gave her a few grumbles and she turned the other cheek, not retaliating, so that was a good sign.  She is very thin so we’re fattening her up with some good dry kibble and puppy food.

Very quickly she proved to be friendly and affectionate and she settled into home life very quickly.  She is a quirky girl who loves to ‘roach’ with her back legs up the wall.  She wiggles and wiggles and her tail never stops.  It’s like a whip though and poor little Rupie is just the wrong height and cops it in the face!

In the past two weeks, Chelsea has grown in confidence and is in fact very pushy for affection, and quite crazy at times!!  So, it appears her name was not ironic – she is the most enthusiastic greyhound I have ever met.  She can be hard work, and goes  CRAZY when she sees a cat on our walks, but she is funny and cuddly and loves to follow us around.  She’s very easy going with Billie and Rupie  and I think they’ve actually come to quite like her, even when she’s standing all over them!

We have foster failed in the past (ie. ending up adopting them) but we’ll have to think very hard about this young lady.  We love her and she’s wormed her way in, but it certainly has  changed the peace and quiet of our home!  Perhaps when she’s had more time to settle, there may be a suitable home for her with energetic children she can play with!

Here are some photos of the beautiful Chelsea and her new friends!  They belie everything I’ve said about her being full of beans – but she does also love to flop down and relax!


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Harley

I work for a pet minding business in Melbourne, Australia.  I answered the phone a couple of weeks ago and on the other end was a lady who was in desperate need to re-home her 10 month old Rottweiler pup.

It’s not something that we have the resources for, but as the story unfolded, I could see that the pup had to be taken out of the situation or it would be put down.

This is the story she told me.  The dog,  Harley, had bitten her young child when he was only 15 weeks old, quite unusual for a puppy, I thought.  The vet had advised her to surrender him but she didn’t want to.  She took him home and he was behaving well around her four children.  However, their landlord had visited on the previous weekend and when he leaned over to pat Harley, he attacked him and bit his hand quite badly, drawing a lot of blood.

She said ever since then, Harley wouldn’t go near anyone in the family and had growled at her menacingly.  She had become frightened of him and couldn’t trust him around her young children.  She was pregnant again with a  child who would have special needs and she couldn’t risk her health either.  He wouldn’t eat any food, and by now this was 3 days after the ‘attack’ had occurred.  She said he looked terrible – was thin and looked sick.

Things were not looking good for young Harley.  But I couldn’t let this fellow go to the rainbow bridge without being given a second chance, whilst understanding the need for him to be re-homed asap.    I made some phone calls to a behaviourist and some rescue groups.  They agreed that it was a dire situation, and depending how aggressive he was, Harley might not be able to be saved.

I spoke to a couple of lovely ladies from Homeless Hounds Rescue Group, and it turned out they had a soft spot for rotties.  They arranged to have someone visit the house that same night to assess whether they thought they would be able to re-home Harley safely. He was timid but friendly towards her so they agreed to help.

But they weren’t going to be able to pick him up until after the weekend.  When this was conveyed to the owner, she became quite defensive and said she’d rung the local council to arrange for a ranger to pick him up.  Based on what she’d told me, Harley would be destroyed straight away if he went to a pound.

Well, I went into a panic – I just felt this young boy needed to be helped.  Things the owner told me didn’t seem to gel with what the assessor from the rescue group had seen.  With some frantic phone calls, texts and tears, we convinced the owner to let him remain at her house over night and we’d pick him up the next day.  She agreed.

Harley was picked up, taken to the vet for a checkup and taken home to the co-ordinator of the rescue group for assessment. He met her dogs, her cat and her child and was sweet and friendly.

This is Harley – the so called aggressive, frightened, skinny dog who was saved from certain death!

Harley 2 Harley

 

I’ve just heard that he has a potential new forever home on 10 acres with two female Rotti’s in country Victoria!!  They are meeting him this weekend so fingers crossed for Harley that it will work out for him. 🙂

I’m so glad that I fell for the lies the previous owner told me about Harley and that I was able to assist in him finding a much more suitable home who will love and care for him.  My theory is that they got caught out by the landlord in having a dog when they were not meant to, and he gave them an ultimatum to get rid of the dog, or lose the house.  With 4 children (if even that’s true) and one of the way, poor Harley had to go, and she made up all those terrible things about him just to get rid of him.

It really saddens me that people still treat dogs as commodities to be got rid of when they no longer want them.  I don’t know how rescue groups have the strength to continue to do what they do, but I’m glad they do!

Have a happy, long life young Harley xx


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Little Wilbur

A blog post that my friend Paulette at The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap posted recently inspired me to tell a lovely story about what love and compassion can do for a dog, especially an old dog.

I work in the office of a pet minding business, Lonely Pets Club.  A couple of weeks ago we were contacted by a lady in distress. She owned a little 16 year old Jack Russell called Wilbur. She’d had a bad car accident 12 months prior and was unable to walk and unable to care for Wilbur. So he was staying with her ex-hubby but he wasn’t caring for him properly and wouldn’t let him in the house due to his incontinence. So poor Wilbur was left outside in the cold with little shelter.
Wilbur2
His mum Katherine was desperate to get him somewhere safe and warm.  So we put the call out to our beautiful carers and so many offered their help.
Jess, who had recently lost two of her own little dogs,  was the first to offer her love and is now his foster mum. She is caring for him until his mum Katherine can find a place where she can look after Wilbur again. When he first arrived, he was in a bad way, and Jess got him straight to the vet.  He had excess fluid on his lungs from lack of medication, poor conditions and cold weather. He  needed to wait another week while she fattened him up and got him a little better to have his vaccinations done and he required a blood test to check on his kidneys.  He also got a top up of medication and an arthritis injection and while he was violated for a temperature check and then again for a prostate check… he was willing to accept the apology treats the vet was spoiling him with!!  Wilbur is partly deaf and partly blind but he can still see well enough to avoid collisions and hear well enough for when Jess tells him to go wee wee’s. His incontinence is severe and it prevents him being able to follow them around the house and snuggle for very long… he hates having to get out of bed or up off the couch in the cold.
Wilbur with Jess on the day he arrived

Wilbur with Jess on the day he arrived

A couple of days after his visit to the vet, little Wilbur was looking so much better! His real mum Katherine was being a wonderful support to Jess and providing for all his medical costs.  Jess arranged for Katherine to visit Wilbur, the first time she’d seen him  in 12 months!!

Foster mum Jess said “It was beautiful to see how happy Wilbur was to spend Saturday with Katherine (his real Mum) – he was running around like a mad rat haha.

Unfortunately we have had some bad news from the vet though, Wilbur has been diagnosed with kidney disease and has been put on a special diet to take the stress off his kidneys. Luckily he loves his new food!

Happier news, he has put on more weight, his chest infection has cleared and he is running around my house and playing like he is a puppy again”.

Jess hasn’t been able to take many photos as he looks like a blur roaming around after her cats!! He has also been playing with all the toys they have around the house and loves tug of war!

He has some new jumpers to keep his little body warm when he’s not snuggling up to his hot water bottle, and wears a little nappy to prevent accidents due to incontinence caused by his medications.  So he now has free roam of the house, and love to snuggle into Jess.

So, at 16 years young, Wilbur is again feeling loved, warm and secure. And Jess has fallen big time for the little man!!

Thanks again Jess for everything you’ve done for Wilbur and Katherine xx

Wilbur and his guardian angel Jess

Wilbur and his guardian angel Jess

Wilbur in his warm bed in his nappy

Wilbur in his warm bed in his nappy

Wilbur in his stripey jumper

Wilbur in his stripy jumper

Wilbur in his red jumper

Wilbur in his red jumper

 

 

 

 

 


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Story of Adoption

Our love affair with greyhounds started in September 2010.  We had previously decided that our next dog would be a greyhound as we had a friend who had adopted one and she was beautiful. We’ve always adopted pets from shelters so saving the life of a greyhound fitted with our beliefs. But we didn’t realise that day would come as quickly as it did, as our two dogs, Ralph and Rupert, were only three years old.

Instead of telling you all about us and how much we love greyhounds, we’ll let April, our first greyhound tell you our story.

Hi, I’m April!  It all began in NSW in 2002.  My mum Stacey gave birth to my sisters Shawee and Baby, my brother Milagro and me.  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.

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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 early 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 the 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 contacted Greyhound Rescue and 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 Kayleigh from Greyhound Rescue took me to meet 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.

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.

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Two years later, Martina from Kay’s Greys (now Amazing Greys) put out a desperate call for a foster carer for a young dog who needed rescuing from a trainer’s kennels.  Kylie and Mike had fallen for me big time (and who wouldn’t??) and they couldn’t bare to see a dog at risk of being killed.  So, they offered to take in New Girl (she didn’t even have a name) and in a few days, we had a skinny, dirty, woolly, frightened young girl living in our house.

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Rupie liked her straight away and I guess I did too, but she was a bit scared of us, of Kylie and Mike and every single noise that she heard.  We named her Billie, and gradually, with lots of love, encouragement and space, she came out of her shell and became part of the family.  When it came time to put her up for adoption… well, Kylie and Mike foster failed again!  So she was officially adopted by us in October 2012.

Now we couldn’t imagine life without her – she’s always wandering around, checking to see that everyone’s ok, gives gentle little kisses on noses, hogs the bed and steals all the attention when we have visitors because she is now so beautiful.  The ugly duckling has grown into a graceful swan.

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She’s only three years old and likes to play which has kept Rupie and I from growing into old grumps.  We have a lot of fun together and we’re really grateful that we have a nice happy home in which to live the rest of our lives.  We hear that some of our kin are not so lucky.

So the moral of the story is that we’ve all given something to each other – Billie and I have a lovely new home full of love, Rupie has two new friends to play with (and boss around!), and Kylie and Mike have had the opportunity to experience the joy of caring for us and watching us flourish into wonderful pets.

Thanks for reading our story – please consider adopting a greyhound when your circumstances allow.

April, Billie, Rupie (and Kylie and Mike)

The gang

 

 


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Run For Your Life – Part II

racing greyhounds

“They’re off and racing” says the starter as the gun fires, loudly enough to make anyone turn and run the other way.  Jack jumps off with a leap and bounds after everyone else.  Bill, Jack’s trainer, is impressed with the start.  Jack is in the middle of the pack – not losing, not winning. “Come on you lazy bugger”, Bill yells with the crowd.   “C’mon, I need you to do this one for me”.  As they turn the second bend, one of the runners in front of Jack falls, Bill thinks it might be Bruce, and all the dogs behind trip over him.   Jack can’t stop in time and is flung high in the air.  His long legs and tail are flailing and as he hits the ground Bill hears the crack.

“Bugger, not another one”.   Bill looks for Jack’s owner, but he’s already walking away, heading for his SUV.

Bill called his handlers over to help him cart Jack away to the vet in the kennel complex.  Once certified dead, Jack’s carcass is discarded with the others who were also injured in other races at the meet and are too injured to be repaired, or for whom their owners were not willing to dish out  the vet bills.

Bruce is brought in to be inspected by the vet.  Miraculously his injuries are relatively minor and he is taken back to Bill’s scruffy kennels to recover.

Bill is tired from the emotion of the day and just wants to relax, have a beer and wish he was somewhere else.   But he knows he has to tend to Bruce, as well as all the others.

He summons up enough energy to throw them a few scoops of food.  “Settle down you mad buggers”, he yells unkindly to the dogs who are jumping and whizzing around, having not  had any contact or attention for over twenty four hours, while Bill was busy getting Jack, Bruce and Roger ready for today’s meet.  Overall a pretty disastrous day, he mumbles to himself.  Jack, the most promising, gone.  Bruce injured and future uncertain.  Roger, well, no hope for him.

Bill didn’t want to think anymore more about the dogs today.  He’d had enough of them – hopeless bloody things, eating him out of house and home.   He decided to deal with them in the morning and retired to his old, draughty house.  He didn’t think of it as a home, though he’d lived in it his whole life; a home should be warm and comfortable, and full of country cooking.   None of these things exist here, and hadn’t since his dear Mum had departed for, he hoped, a better life over fifteen years ago.

The day after the disappointments dawned cold and menacingly gloomy.  As usual, Bill rose early and began his chores.   His bones ached with the cold and his fingers were numb while he scooped food into the clanking buckets.

He did the rounds.  One fewer to feed today he realised.  Jack’s pen was strangely bare; perhaps Bill did have a bit of a soft spot for the young fella after all.  He’d have to ring the owner today and chase the outstanding monies owing for Jack’s training.  With yesterday’s result though, he doubts he’ll see any of that.   He’d give the pen a bit of a clean later in the day and fill it with another hopeful.

By mid morning the essentials were done and Bill went into his old shipping container office to do some paperwork.   He wasn’t good at this part as he’d left school as soon as was allowed so he could help his Dad with the dogs.  He didn’t realise there’d be forms to fill and ledgers to balance.  It was always a struggle for him and there was no way he could use a computer so all the bits of paper were haphazardly filed in piles on his desk.  He had to find the phone number for Bruce and Roger’s owner.    He’d have the conversation with him about yesterday.   What did he want to do with the dogs? He knew the answer – it would be the same as usual – “I don’t want them, get rid of them”.   Although Bill knew there was no point in keeping dogs around who weren’t going to make anyone any money, he didn’t like the thought of getting rid of them.  Sometimes he’d given them to another trainer who said he’d deal with them for him.  Bill didn’t ask what the other trainer did with them, but he had a fair idea and although he didn’t like it, it was a cheap option so he just let it go.

But perhaps Bill was getting a bit soft in his older years.  He felt there had to be a better way of getting rid of the dogs who had been mildly injured while racing, like Bruce, or who weren’t the slightest bit interested in running, like Roger.   He knew they were nice dogs really and surely they could have a life after racing.

Bill had the predictable conversation with Roger and Bruce’s owner who said he’d pay their food bill for one month only and then it was up to Bill to ‘deal with them’.   His predicament gnawed at Bill for a few days – get rid of them the ‘usual’ way, or try to find another solution.  He mulled it over and over – he really was keen to find a better way of dealing with these dogs when their racing days were over, or once it was clear they had no interest in the chase.  There was no point in them languishing in his pens, costing him and the owners money.  They were still only young dogs so had many years of life ahead of them.

The trainer had a flash of brilliance!  He knew of a lady in town who helped injured wildlife – maybe she might know what he could do.   He found her number in the local directory under the piles of old contracts, long out of date and no longer relevant.

Bill summoned the courage and called her, but he wasn’t sure what kind of reception he would receive.  She was reticent at first when Bill told her he was a trainer.  But as he explained his dilemma he could feel her softening.  She told him she would look into it and get back to him.

Two days passed and Bill began to think she had fobbed him off, just being nice to get him off the phone. When he felt, reluctantly, that he was going to have to go down the old route, he received a call from a young woman called Marina.  She said she ran a greyhound rescue group and would be interested to meet with him and see the dogs he needed to get out of his kennels.

Bill agreed to meet with Marina the next weekend.  She arrived, confident and compassionate.  Bill didn’t often spend time in the company of women so was anxious, and he stammered in her presence.   She quickly put him at ease and explained what she did.  He would have to officially surrender Bruce and Roger to her, in the name of the rescue group, and she would find foster homes for the boys.   Once they had spent some time in a home environment, they would be adopted out to a forever home and live their life on a couch in a warm house.

It sounded like the perfect solution to his problems.   He thought of all the other dogs he’d be able to bring through his kennels now that he knew there was a way to re-home them afterwards.

Marina returned the following weekend, got Bill to fill in the relevant paperwork, and took Bruce and Roger to the city with her.  They were wide-eyed and nervous in the car, but settled quickly.

Marina took Bruce and Roger home for the night to rest and have a gentle play with her special greyhound puppy Joe.  They were inquisitive about all the things in the house – the mirrors, glass doors, stairs (oh heavens how would they manage those!) and seemed surprised when they were each given their own bowl of food.  At the end of an anxious day, after experiencing a whole new world of sights, smells and kindness, they slept soundly on a soft mattress at the end of Marina’s bed.   In the morning she put out her usual call for assistance from the amazing network of foster carers who were involved with the rescue group.   Mary said she had space for the boys to stay with her for a while until they knew how to live as a pet.

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Mary taught Bruce and Roger what kind words sounded like, and showed them a gentle hand ,  stroking their heads at night, while they lay on the couch beside her.   They soon learnt how comfortable a double bed was and enjoyed being snug and warm in their fleecy jumpers.  Mary watched their personalities develop and their dirty, woolly kennel coats give way to sleek and shiny ones.  She knew it wouldn’t be long before the boys were doing zoomies in the backyard and would be ready to make a lucky family very happy in having two such beautiful, gentle and kind dogs in their life.

Marina was nearly out her doorway on her way to work a couple of weeks later when the phone rang.  She hesitated, but felt she should answer it.    “Hi, it’s Bill. I have two more needing homes, can you take them?”

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