Thursday, 17 April 2008

Dog Rescue, Greyhounds and YouTube, oh my!

It's all getting pretty exciting at Dogs Trust HQ with the expansion of the digital department. Part of my job this week will be getting hold of snippets of Dog Rescue to upload to our YouTube channel, which is currently full of lovely videos of staff interacting with dogs in one of our 17 Rehoming Centres.

One of the clips I'm most keen to get on the site is one featuring Betty the Greyhound, whose owners decided to hand her over for rehoming with us when she had to retire from racing. Retired Greyhounds might well have enjoyed their years dashing around the track, but few are lucky enough to be taken in by racing owners as pets or responsibly handing in to a centre for rehoming. Many are destroyed or sold abroad where their welfare is greatly in question and they are likely to be killed once they’ve outlived their money-spinning usefulness.

The work of charities like ours and the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 means that life has improved on and off the track for these beautiful animals, but things are still far from perfect. One of the biggest challenges we face is convincing potential adopters that a Greyhound makes a suitable pet.

For instance, did you know they're the couch potatoes of the dog world? Despite the ability to reach speeds of 40mph, Greyhounds like nothing better than a long kip on the sofa. Just two or three 20 minute walks and brief off-lead sprint a day will suffice for fitness. Chatting about them in the Dogs Trust office, Jo commented on some friends who adopted a pair of Greyhounds in the hope that they'd accompany them on long walks in the country. After half an hour, the dogs have to be walked back home before they can continue the stroll as they simply lose interest...

These docile giants are child-friendly, clean and sociable animals, who sadly have a bad reputation because of a handful of negative news reports.

They do have a deliberately bred chase instinct, but provided you invest time and effort in training (and use muzzle if necessary), that shouldn't cause any problems. Some greyhounds have been known to chase any smaller dogs, rabbits and even cats, but common sense and responsible ownership should prevent any issues. In fact, their sociable nature means they make for particularly good second pets as they tend to socialise very well with other animals; your local Rehoming Centre will be able to give you all the advice you need.

Who knows? Your next dog might just be one of these graceful, delightful animals.
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