Foster carers are some of the most important people in the greyhound industry. They are responsible for introducing greyhounds to their new lives as pets and WA trainer Linda Britton knows the great importance the Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) programme has in the industry.
On Sunday Britton opened her kennels up to 30 lucky foster carers so they could experience the life of a racing greyhound, as well as getting to see some of the young pups.
“It was basically to give the foster carers the chance to see how greyhounds are in training, in the hope that it will help with the transition to a pet home. It was also a great chance to see that it’s a myth that greyhounds are mistreated here.” Linda Britton explained.
“It was also for us to see where our dogs are going because we do get attached to them too. They are in our lives for up to four years and we really like to know where they go after they finish with us.”
The GAP open day involved a tour around Britton’s property to see the dog kennels and empty out yards, as well as the massage mats for the dogs that had many foster carers look on in amazement. Retired chaser Tonka Truck put on a show on the straight track, showcasing his short burst of energy for the crowd. The day ended with lunch and conversation between everyone about their greyhounds.
“It was great to hear stories about where our past dogs had gone. We also had a few owners there mingling so they could share stories about their experiences.”
Sofiana Alford was one of the lucky foster carers that came along to see Britton’s kennels. She has had three of Britton’s past chasers go through her home as foster dogs. Art, who raced as Rousay, Wabbit as Cool Wabbit and more recently Pongo, who raced as Moss Vale. All three chasers had successful careers earning upwards of $50,000 each.
“Linda likes to know about her dogs as well. It’s awesome how she wants to know how her old dogs are going in foster care, it shows that trainers do care.” Sofiana Alford explains.
“Going through the kennels it showed how much work goes into just one greyhound let alone 80 greyhounds. I was amazed that the kennels were really clean, even the puppy yards were dog poo free!”
Alford has been foster caring for about four years now and she believes that the most rewarding part of teaching the greyhounds about life at home is seeing them find their forever homes.
After constant speculation that the greyhound industry doesn’t look after their racing greyhounds, Alford was able to make her own judgement on the kennels and the environment some of her foster dogs have come from.
“My thoughts about racing have changed; I got to see that the dogs were really well looked after. It’s not as bad as what people are making it out to be. It was awesome going out there, they love their dogs more then people!”
With such a positive response from the foster carers Britton would love to make her GAP open day a regular event.
“Especially for new foster carers so they can have a better understanding of greyhound, because they do get challenged when they are walking around, being asked why they would have anything to do with Greyhounds WA because it’s such a cruel sport. They get to experience themselves that it isn’t cruel and that the dogs are well looked after.” Britton explained.
“The day was above what I expected. I didn’t have any negative questions and I was wrapt with the response. The people were lovely and genuinely cared for the dogs and that’s what we love to see.”
The open day was filled with an overwhelming love for greyhounds as a breed. One couple that deals with trouble foster dogs spoke about how hard it was to let the dogs go and how close they had come to a number of dogs, to the point of wanting to keep them themselves. It came down to one statement that summed up foster caring perfectly, acting as a constant reminder that there are other greyhounds out there that need to learn the ropes of retirement too.
The day we find a dog we don’t want to let go, that will be the last greyhound we can teach to be a pet.