The year was 2005, the season, spring. We had been “dogless” for quite a while, and I was looking forward to adding a canine companion to our family. Our dear boxer “Deidre” had died about seven years previously from cancer and its complications. I suppose I waited too long to put her down, and she suffered some sort of seizure at the end; and the pain and heartbreak very of losing her that way had weighed heavily for many years on my psyche.It was time for another dog. My husband had been talking about greyhound “rescue” for a couple of years, but it was not until the summer of 2005 that we actually met a couple of greyhounds at a local event in our village. So soft to the touch, so calm and regal looking! I think seeing those dogs that day planted the
seed for bringing a retired racer into our lives. It would be another six months or so (March 2006) before we looked up GAGR’s website, and went to a meet and greet at a close by shopping center. We held the leash of “Fly by Wire” (Francie), a mere seven days later! We decided to call her Millie, after my husband’s late grandmother Mildred. She was a beautiful golden brindle, not quite two years old and recovering from a common career ending injury for the species; a broken hock.
Although we may have gone through the adoption process in record time, the volunteers could not have beenmore thorough, caring or helpful, and I was very impressed with the group. Our adoption rep not only met us (moral support) at the bathhouse where we picked up our Millie, she offered the use of a crate and even went shopping with me to guide me through the doggie layette items! A few days after her arrival, we even got an e-mail from ClaireTyler out of Melbourne, Fla., asking how “Francie” was doing with her injury. This was in addition to e-mails and calls from our rep and the group president in Rochester as well, to see how she was coping with her new home. I could not have been more impressed with the level of caring from members of the group. I wanted to be a part of this organization.
It was easy to begin my GAGR volunteer career. Starting with the Park Ave meet and greet that very year, Millie accompanied my husband and myself to a slew of meet and greet events. She also made the perfect “sister” to nine foster dogs we took in over the next couple of years. I longed for a companion for Millie, but it wasn’t until a foster “Fliowa Tiny” (aka Jenna) happened along in the fall of 2008 that I got my second greyhound. She was a “bounce” with a severe case of separation anxiety. It took some convincing, and cajoling, to bring my hubby around, but by New Year’s Day 2009, he agreed that Jenna had found a permanent home at the Butcher house. After Jenna, we only foster about once a year, but I am pleased to say we have helped twelve or so greyhounds total in the transition from track to living room.
Fostering many dogs gave me the insight to become an adoption rep. Since every dog is a little different, I wanted to experience several dogs’ transition from racer to retirement. I always hope to give the prospective adopters realistic expectations regarding greyhound adoption and the transition that the dogs go through. I continue with this volun- teer activity and find this particularly rewarding. I enjoy working with the other GAGR volunteers, and meeting the potential adoptive families.
My all time favorite volunteer job was something I experienced only once; transport duty. I traveled with three other volunteers in the spring of this year to pick up some Dennis Tyler dogs in Gettysburg, Pa. The two dogs I walked briefly for potty break stayed close to me in the van on the way home; they really do bond so quickly! The icing on the cake was watching Dennis Tyler in action that day. Dennis and his wife run the rescue kennel in Melbourne and they drove the dogs up from Fla. Dennis had to have been exhausted from the almost-two-day drive, but I saw only joy and profound love on his face as he personally lifted each dog from the transport and gently set them on the ground; adding a final pat or word of encouragement and securing the collar and lead before the volunteers led them away. My spirit soared for a week.
Volunteering is an act of love and selflessness. Hard work and time spent engaged in the activity is paid back two fold in the joy and satisfaction one feels at the end of the day. I will always cherish my time spent volunteering, and I thank the wonderful people that comprise GAGR for allowing me to be a part of “Bringing Hounds Home.”