It’s an unexpected match made in heaven, but retirees hoping to give their time to a good cause could find one in a four-legged friend looking for a home.

With National Volunteer Week (16 – 22 May 2022) soon upon us, it’s timely to recognise all volunteers. But there’s a very special group of retirees who go the extra mile for Greyhounds.

Contrary to popular belief, Greyhounds are big goofy sooks and will swamp you with adoration and love. They’ll also adopt a place on your couch or bed as a loyal pet. This is why many volunteers and foster carers not only adopt a grey or two, but also actively want to save them from greyhound racing.

Greyhound Paddy (the ball thief) lives with Fran.

Not surprisingly, the RSPCA does not support greyhound racing due to the many unresolved animal welfare concerns associated with the so-called sport. These concerns motivate rescue groups, as well as activists.

CPG (the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds) is a dedicated group of volunteers across Australia who work together to inform the public about the cruelties of dog racing – FB, web, Insta, media coverage

Retired nurse Annie is one of CPG’s amazingly enthusiastic volunteers. She’s a media spokesperson for the group and is often busy doing radio and newspaper interviews. Her love affair with Greyhounds started long ago.

“I saw an ad on Facebook by Gumtree Greys for foster carers, applied and was introduced to Holly. This beautiful black greyhound girl had been an Irish Champion and ‘Bitch of the year’ in 2012. She was bought by an Australian syndicate at two years old and kept to breed from,” said Annie.

Holly whelped many litters until she was nine years old and had her last puppies by caesarean. When Annie took Holly to be desexed, the vet said she was a mess inside and had been sewn up with nylon non-dissolving sutures.

“Holly taught me all about how gentle, quirky, dorky, loving and unintentionally hilarious greyhounds are, like the way their jaws quiver when they are happy. All of my future foster greyhounds learnt how to become great pets with guidance from gorgeous Holly,” said Annie.

“I foster greyhounds because they deserve the chance of a good life as a dog and pet, not just a product or commodity. Greyhounds bring me so much joy. In return, I speak out for them because of what they suffer on Australia’s many racing tracks.”

Annie says she’s appalled by the fact that in 2021, there were 212 greyhound deaths on Australian dog tracks and over 10,000 injuries, according to statistics from official stewards’ reports. Because of this, she volunteers for CPG and other greyhound-related voluntary bodies. She’s also a motorbike enthusiast and uses her motorbike riding to raise money for greyhound welfare.

Alicia – one of CPG’s newest volunteers – is semi-retired. She works part-time in journalism and interior design, but adores Greyhounds. Her male black Greyhound, Fluffy, is now nearly seven years old and has been retired from racing for four years.

Alicia and her greyhound.

“Fluffy is one of the lucky survivors from the greyhound racing tracks, as he only won one race and is loving his retired life on the couch! He’s a soppy sook despite his size and the name suits him down to the ground as he is not an Anubis or Nero by nature,” said Alicia.

“My lovely boy is very nervous due to his past racing days. He’s frightened of loud noises such as cars or motorbikes, as well as thunder and lightning. He absolutely loves children and babies, as he instinctively knows they won’t harm him.”

She says greyhounds are ideal companions for retirees as they are lazy couch potatoes, love cuddles, are very affectionate and generally don’t need more than one walk of 20 minutes a day.

“I volunteer with CPG by writing content for publication. They really need more people who have at least five years’ experience writing news releases and placing them with media outlets. Greyhounds are innocents with no voice, so we speak up for them,” said Alicia.

She said CPG’s five-point plan is aimed at reforming the racing industry. As well as increased penalties for mistreatment, the plan includes tracking each dog from birth to death so they don’t ‘disappear’, reduced breeding, sanctuaries and safer tracks.

Fran, previously a lecturer in Environmental Science, is spokesperson and leader of the Tasmanian activist group Let Greyhounds Run Free (LGRF), which formed as a result of the ABC’s Four Corners program on live baiting and the subsequent Parliamentary Inquiry into the Tasmanian Greyhound Industry. LGRF has held several rallies against greyhound racing, and continues to lobby for the end of this cruel, archaic industry.

Fran (centre) with friends at the Let Greyhounds Run Free demo in Tasmania.

Fran began her greyhound journey back in 2000 when she came across a Greyhound Adoption stall at a local event. She was instantly hooked after meeting a few of these four-legged beauties and adopted the timid and scared Miss Ruby. It was Ruby who introduced Fran to the dark life of a racing greyhound.

Ruby was soon joined by regal Jena. Ruby was terrified, and Jena was injured and a severe epileptic – why we may never know, and it was then that Fran vowed she would do whatever she could to end greyhound racing.

All these years later, having had the joy of six hounds and several more foster hounds, she now has the privilege of living with Paddy and Jennifer Jane.

Paddy became well known in promotions for Let Greyhounds Run Free’s rallies. He is also a champion at helping timid and shy foster greyhounds come back to life after their traumas, and adjust to life as it should be, in a safe and loving home.

“I have stories about all the beauties who have blessed my life. They are the most gentle, loving, soul-filled, quirky beings and I’m so very grateful I met ‘Miss Ruby Two Shoes’ way back then in 2000” says Fran.

Meanwhile, retired lawyer Jeff is also a tireless campaigner, volunteer and lover of greyhounds. He’s been a supporter of the worldwide campaign to end greyhound racing for the last 15 years or so.

Jeff and greyhound Rufus.

“When my pet greyhound died in 2015, I promised myself to continue fighting for the cause. That was the year when the live baiting scandal broke in Australia,” he said.

“I followed the news reports and the inquiries closely. When an opportunity arose to become an admin at the new Facebook group ‘Ban Greyhound Racing – Australia Wide’, it was an ideal way to support the growing anti-racing campaign.”

Jeff said the group’s focus has always been on activism.

“There are many other social media outlets where people can share pictures of their rescued greyhounds and discuss their care, behaviour and feeding. On our page, we try to be a resource for current information about the Australian racing industry.”

Those interested in adopting or fostering a goofy hound, should contact one of the groups listed here, while anyone interested in volunteering with CPG, can find out more here. For further information about greyhound welfare issues, see CPG’s hot topics listed here.

Images: Supplied

This article first appeared on OverSixty.