Greyhounds are known for many endearing characteristics; lazy, silly, friendly and low-maintenance, but they can also be very timid, and after racing, a period of getting used to the ‘real world’ can work wonders for their confidence.
Often, when a dog transitions from the track to retirement a period of foster care – or socialisation – is necessary to expose the dog to things they may not have experienced; like slippery floors, other breeds of dog and how to climb up onto your bed.
The Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) fostering programme has been developed with that objective; socialising the dogs so they fit into your home, and on your bed, as quickly as possible.
Most dogs are fostered by dedicated volunteers with a well-practiced schedule for their charges to experience life in a home; the noises, sights and smells we take for granted. Even a ringing telephone or a glass door can be problematic in the early stages.
Not all foster carers have the luxury of taking the dogs out into the suburbs however.
Two Victorian minimum-security prisons – Tarrengower and Dhurringile – joined with GAP in 2007 to create the ‘Prison Pet Partnership’ to get prisoners involved with socialisation and rehoming efforts, and this month the 400th foster dog graduated from Dhurringile.
Dhurringile is a 68 room Italianate mansion near Shepparton, completed in 1877 by wealthy pastoralists who had made their fortune in the goldfields, and swapped the gold cradle for cattle.
During WWII it was used as a prisoner-of-war camp and hosted some high-ranking Germans captured in North Africa. After the war, it housed orphans from England and Scotland, until the state government purchased the property in 1965 for use as a prison. By 2007, extra outbuildings had been constructed to increase the capacity to 200 prisoners – and four greyhounds.
Recently, pawed-prisoner number 400 – a three-year-old called Quik – has passed the six-week course and is ready for a new home.
The prisoners and their dogs have a tight routine. Out at 8am, kennels cleaned and it’s down to the oval for two hours of walking and GAP-supervised training. As all prisoners at Dhurringile work around the property, the dogs go with them. Many a greyhound has made friends with the cows at the milking shed, by all reports.
The greyhounds stay with their handler through dinner at 6.30 and socialising until it’s back to the kennels at 10.
Quik was initially described by his handler as ‘the heavy-handed bulldozer’ for his tendency to pull on the lead, but by the end of his sentence had been downgraded to ‘bouncy and silly’. In other words, normal greyhound.
He can even do stairs (down only), executes some impressive zoomies and learned how to chase a ball (bringing it back is a work in progress, of course). All in all, he’s ready to take over a lounge-room.
GRV’s prison pet partnership has provided much to many; the dogs have received love, attention and education; their handlers the same.
Hundreds of greyhounds are fostered in the community every year. It’s a vital piece in the rehoming and welfare priorities of GRV. If you would like to know more about getting involved in this valuable re-homing role, see gap.grv.org.au.
Quik is just one of the dogs who will be ready for adoption at the next adoption day on Saturday October 6 at Sandown.