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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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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.

greyhounds on couch

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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A New Beginning

Sunday arrived, and it wasn’t too gloomy.  I busied myself around the house making preparations for the imminent arrival of New Girl, at the same time burning off some nervous energy.

April went for her customary short walk, after which she usually settles down in her bean bag.  This morning was different though.  She could feel something in the air.  She paced about and followed me everywhere, sometimes whining at the door.

Rupie was at the cafe with Mike while he had a Sunday morning coffee.

Amongst the soap suds of  washing last night’s pots and pans, I realised there was a slight knock at the door – April didn’t even bark, just whined a bit more loudly.

New Girl was here!

I met her at the car with Martina – she was skittish and nervous but a handsome looking girl. She was petite but muscular and although her coat is woolly from living outdoors, I could see that she will be beautiful.  She has piercing brown eyes, full of life and expectation.

We walked her along our street where we met Rupie and Mike coming back from the cafe.  New Girl and Rupie said their hellos in the usual doggy way – a good sniff and a lick of their bits we’d rather not mention! Once those formalities were over, they walked along side each other, sniffing at trees and posts like old mates.

The next challenge was being  introduced to April, who gets very overexcited on meeting new doggy friends.  We walked them together on the nature strip where April pulled and strained and tested Mike’s strength.  After a while we let her get a bit closer and she tried to take a nip of her rump –  muzzles were firmly in place though so no damage was done.  A bit further along a sniff and another attempted nip but with no malice intended.  On we continued and eventually we let them do their normal doggy greeting – a bit of a sniff and lick of parts and that was that – best girlfriends from then on!!

Over the next few hours they got to know each other and both Rupie and April tried to play with her.  Although she’s only 2 years old, she has only ever had contact with other dogs through the fencing of their pens so she doesn’t know how to play.  It won’t take much encouragement though.

April has been very chilled out with her, and Rupie has been very excited now that he realises he’s got two girlfriends!  He’s been barking and running around like the clown he is, but we have to supervise them closely, as Rupie tends to get a bit too full on with his play.

New Girl eventually ate some food – apparently she only used to get fed every couple of days so is a bit thin and wormy.  Her coat is thick, dull and dirty so we gave her a very quick bath to get some of the dirt out.

She’s been de-flead, wormed, fed and brushed.

She is a little timid and anxious at the moment. She paced around the house and garden non-stop for about 3 hours, despite us offering her a soft bed in any number of rooms!  She’s not used to sleeping in comfort – just a concrete floor.   I saw her a few times catching a cat nap while on her feet.  She will be exhausted from today’s activities – everything she’s done and seen today is new.  Never been in a car, never been in a house, never seen a train or a tram, never had a bath and never seen us or April or Rupert.

But she is now resting quietly in the spare bedroom on a soft bed, while April cockroaches in her bean bag and Rupie’s snoring rumbles through the house.  Everyone is clearly exhausted from the excitement of having a new girl around.

She has already given me a couple of little doggy kisses as she passes by so I don’t think it will take long before New Girl becomes affectionate and comes out of her shell.  I think she’ll be quite a character, and extremely good looking too.

Today is the first chapter in New Girl’s life – she’s starting it off with us and with a new name …………

Handsome girl settling in with Rupie in the background

Yummy – finally got some decent food!

I didn’t mind too much having a bath – I know it will make me look much better!


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Something in the Air Tonight

There is something in the air at our place this evening.  The central heating is on, but it’s not that.  The incense is providing a lovely aromatic waft, but it’s not that.  The candles are flickering and providing a warm atmosphere, but that’s not it either…..

It’s an excited, but nervous, sense of  expectation.

Tomorrow a new girl is arriving at our place.

She is two years old, has blue hair and brown eyes.  She’s shy and doesn’t have any friends.  She doesn’t even have a name.

She is going to stay with us for awhile so that we can teach her how to enjoy playing with friends; to learn that the world is a better place than she has experienced thus far;  and how to become a wonderful companion to a deserving family in the future.

New Girl has lived her life in horrible conditions in a trainer’s pen

New Girl is a greyhound, one of the thousands discarded by the greyhound racing industry every year.

Her ‘crime’?  She’s not interested in chasing a lure around a track.

We are dedicated to helping  these beautiful dogs, and although there are approximately 25,000 bred every year in Australia, only 5,000 or so are found homes.  What happens to the rest?  You guessed it….

So, we are going to take another small step towards assisting  (we adopted April nearly 2 years ago) and will foster her to get her out of the horrible conditions where she awaits her inevitable fate unless we can give her another option at a better life (thanks to Kay’s Greys rescue group for finding her and giving us the opportunity to help).

The first few days/weeks/months  will be a challenge for her and for us but we are determined to show her what love and respect mean so that she can enjoy the rest of her life as a happy and healthy friend and loyal companion.

We will do regular blog posts on our progress – we hope you will follow our story and rejoice in the awakening of a new life.


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Positive steps..

Just thought I’d do an update on some of the welfare issues that have been prominent in Australia over the past few years/months.  To everyone’s cautious joy, there are some positive steps taking place. It seems that the pressure of the welfare groups and rescue organisations, as well as a growing public awareness, has been having an impact and making our governments take some action.  Not before time.  There is still the issue of Breed Specific Legislation which is a very complicated, emotive can of worms that needs to be tackled.  However due to the passion and polar opinions within the community it needs to be addressed very carefully.

In no particular order of importance (they are all super-important)  the following have occurred in the past 2 weeks:

1. Pets Paradise, a chain of pet shops which sold puppies and kittens, has been put into administration, amid claims of selling puppies who subsequently died of parvo virus, tracked back to their supplier – a Gippsland puppy farm.

2. The RSPCA has made raids on at least two notorious puppy farms – one in Queensland and one in Victoria.  The animals have been seized, taken into care and will hopefully be rehomed.  Here is an excerpt from the article today: 

On Thursday 9 August 2012, five RSPCA Inspectors attended a property in the South Gippsland region of Victoria. What was found was later described by even our most seasoned Inspectors and Senior RSPCA Veterinarian as one of the worst living environments for animals that they had ever seen. Simply, our rescue team was shocked and appalled. 62 dogs, including puppies as young as two days old, were living in filth and squalor. Sadly, they were made to live in as much as 3-4 inches of their own waste, in tiny pens or cages – some without water. One particular dog that was rescued could not be identified by breed because its hair was that matted and caked in mud and waste.Extremely concerned for the welfare of the dogs, as well as the other animals on the property, RSPCA Inspectors issued the owner with a warrant to immediately seize all of the animals in her care. 62 dogs and puppies, a number of cats, five guinea pigs, one horse, one hen, one budgie and a deceased turtle were rescued from the property.Our rescue team learned that the property is an ex-breeding establishment. What they could not understand, is why the owner did not seek support to rehome these beautiful animals instead of allowing a ghastly situation like this occur?All animals from the property are currently being assessed by our expert clinic and shelter teams. Whilst it is unknown at this stage, many may require extensive rehabilitation from RSPCA staff and volunteers.

3.  Victorian Government sets up animal welfare fund: Posted August 09, 2012 12:50:11

Fines from illegal puppy farms will help fund a new animal welfare program to care for neglected pets.

The State Government is committing $1.6 million to the fund to help animal shelters and welfare agencies rescue abandoned animals.

Treasurer Kim Wells says the proceeds from penalties and seizures of illegal puppy farms is unpredictable, but the Government is guaranteeing $400,000 each year, for four years.

“Under the Minister for Agriculture’s authority we’ve been able to increase fines, increase inspections and have a situation now where we’re able to be on top of the illegal puppy farms and we think that’s a good move,” he said.”

4. Oscar’s Law – anti-puppy farming campaigners and advocates of adopting, not shopping,  has announced simultaneous rallies in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide on September 16, 2012. 

It is extremely encouraging, and rewarding, for all the people who have been involved in campaigning to stop animal cruelty over the years to see that perhaps some positive steps are being taken and the public is getting behind their campaigns.  There is a long way to go, obviously, but whatever we can all do to help them will be greatly appreciated.

I would also like to mention a few rescue organisations who are doing an amazing job of running their groups with volunteers and donations only and have a strict no-kill policy (unlike some government funded ‘shelters’).  The number of animals they are rescuing seems never ending but their dedication and love for these poor souls is also never ending.

Thank you to their wonderful founders and volunteers for your passion and dedication to help those who can’t help themselves and are so deserving of a better life.  You are truly the good people of the world.