It doesn’t need to be dog’s life for old greyhounds
AFFECTIONATE and inquisitive, there is no animal more grateful than a greyhound that is experiencing family life for the first time.
But with an estimated 10,000 dogs retiring from racing in the UK every year, rehoming them is a constant battle. It is a desperate situation that former veterinary nurse Lois Sinclair became painfully aware of after she started work at a surgery in Loanhead.
“Through working at the practice, I saw a lot of greyhounds come in and I just fell for them,” she says. “They are such wonderful dogs. There’s just something about them – when you meet them they get under your skin. I just felt I couldn’t walk away from the situation.”
After much careful consideration, Lois established Gracehounds – a rehoming service that has only just received its charitable status. It is now her mission to establish a register of foster carers so greyhounds that have retired from racing can get used to family life before being rehoused permanently.
“If a dog is racing, it is essentially a working dog and living in kennels,” says Lois, “Its whole world has revolved around either the kennel or the racetrack, so it has led a very sheltered life. Some of them have never met another dog except when it is racing. So when its racing days are over, you are taking on a dog with very limited experience.
“Fostering a greyhound is so rewarding because you are introducing the dog to home life. Although they are adult dogs, they will never have seen a Hoover or a washing machine. It’s wonderful watching doors open in their world as they experience new things.”
While there is no dog track in the Lothians, there are lots of trainers and they take their dogs to race at tracks in Ayr, Gretna and Fife. A greyhound’s career often ends when the dog becomes injured but sometimes a dog will refuse to run and so they too are of no use to the trainer.
If a dog has had a successful racing career, it will only be between three and four years old so have many years of life still ahead of it. And while some greyhound trainers will be responsible and do their best to find a new home for their dog, the treatment handed out by others can be cruel and there have been cases where dogs are abandoned with their ears cut off – done so the owner cannot be traced by ID marks tattooed inside the dog’s ear.
“A lot of these dogs need help and, for some, it’s been a very hard life – they are either running or they are of no use,” says Lois.
“Some times they are brought in to the vets to be put to sleep at the end of their career but some trainers will try hard to find new homes.
“Sometimes they are just tied to trees and left in the woods. It can be very unpleasant.
“But I’m not saying I’m against racing and we have to work with trainers to make sure these dogs are looked after when their careers are over.”
Lois has the backing of her former employer, the Ian C R Butt Veterinary practice, and although Lois is based at Lasswade, she is appealing for animal lovers from across the region to help her rehome these dogs.
Those who are already fond of greyhounds or just want to meet one before committing themselves to foster or permanent care are welcome to join Lois at Vogrie Country Park on the last Sunday of every month.
To find out more about Gracehounds, visit www.gracehounds.plus.com.
A LONG PEDIGREE AND BIBLICAL CONNECTIONS
ORIGINATING in southern Arabia, the greyhound is one of the oldest breeds in existence and has been traced back thousands of years to early cave drawings. It is also the only dog mentioned in the Bible.
The Retired Greyhound Trust says that around 10,000 dogs are retired from racing each year and the average age they are no longer required by trainers is between three and four years.
Grateful for the affection, greyhounds make great family pets and, because they are a pedigree breed, they normally stay fit and healthy into their teens.
The Trust describes the greyhound’s temperament as docile, gentle and laid back and, despite their racing history, it is stressed that the animals need only two 20 minute walks each day.
Because their coats are short and smooth, they also don’t get too dirty and can come back from muddy walks relatively clean, generally requiring little grooming.
SITE TO AVOID
ANIMAL rights groups have slammed a cruel website that buys stray animals to sell on to research labs.
The site – I Buy Strays – pays its users 7.50 for cats and up to 25 for large dogs.
And it tells pet owners to sell their old animals and replace them with new puppies and kittens every six months.
The new website highlights the process as helping advancements in medical science. But anti-cruelty experts are urging the public to keep away from the site.
The site tells its users: “You can enjoy their wonderful puppy/kitten stage and then reap a cash reward for having grown such a fine specimen. Start over with a new kitten every six months!”
Joanna Wilson from the Scottish SPCA said: “We are appalled by this website. It is particularly galling that the site encourages people to view their pets not only as disposable but also as a form of income.
“We would urge the public not to glorify this site by giving it any further attention – thankfully this simply could not legally happen in the UK.”
• A HUNTING dog shot his owner dead after stepping on the trigger of a loaded shotgun.
Perry Alvin Price died in hospital from severe blood loss shortly after the accident in south-east Texas.
Police said Mr Price, 46, was hunting near Stowell, about 60 miles east of Houston, when he shot a goose.
Mr Price then put the gun in the back of his truck and was about to open the tailgate to release his dog when the shotgun fired. The blast penetrated the truck’s tailgate before hitting Mr Price in the thigh.
Paw prints from the dog, a chocolate Labrador retriever named Arthur, were found on the muddy shotgun, Sheriff Joe LaRive said.
Daniel Groberg, Price’s hunting partner, said he tried to stop the bleeding with clothing before driving him to seek help.
“It’s the strangest case that I’ve seen,” Sheriff LaRive said. “We couldn’t talk to Perry and Groberg was at the front of the truck when he heard the shotgun blast and didn’t see what happened.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east