I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in fostering and fundraising for many charities over the years, both as a volunteer and as a member of staff. And so, I have a fair amount of awareness when it comes to placing dogs in rescue and how hard it can be to find space for even the most bomb-proof, cuddly fluff ball these days (especially since the pandemic puppy boom).

One thing that always comes up is elderly dogs or dogs with long-term health problems. These dogs are normally expensive, not to mention “kennel blockers”. A lot of adopters don’t want an elderly dog that they will get attached to when they know they won’t be with them for many years to come, and it can be alarming to a rescue to be asked to take in a dog that has a hefty monthly vet bill sat ready for them as soon as they arrive on the premises. Even if the rescue can accommodate them for a short period of time, how often do you get an adopter coming along saying “I’ll take the dog with the crippling vet bills, please”.

When I was lucky enough to be welcomed into the family of Greyhound Rescue Wales in August 2020, I was struck by how very different the culture was. The supporters, for a start, ADORED senior dogs. They flooded to the social media posts to fawn over them and they would always recommend senior dogs in their comments. As an owner of three senior dogs myself, I definitely felt like I had found my people.

Perhaps that was how Sponsor a Dog was born. It launched long before my time, but it definitely stood out to me as a reason for celebration. A charity project that took in sighthounds who were living with lifelong issues, whether they be for medical needs or mental wellbeing. Being able to find the perfect forever home with no concerns for their ongoing medical costs, as they would always be covered. And for dogs whose needs had sometimes not been met due to it being unaffordable, removing that risk all together and ensuring that their medical care never need be compromised for any reason, for the rest of their natural lives.

For some dogs, they have been transferred between internal GRW projects. Carys especially seems to resonate with our supporters. As a racing greyhound, Carys broke her hock and was facing risk of euthanasia. A greyhound with a broken hock will never race again, and surgery is expensive. There is no financial benefit to a greyhound trainer to pay out to fix a dog that cannot earn for them anymore. And so Carys came to us, under the care of our Last Hope project. Unfortunately for Carys, it was a complicated break and it has left her lame with ongoing problems around the plate that was needed to heal the break. Carys deserved a future though, and went to live with the wonderful Bob, a very kind and generous supporter of ours. She lives out her days in comfort, under the care of her loving foster guardian.

Carys isn’t the only ex-racing hound who has ended up needing lifelong support. Our wonderful Rodney was hugely over-raced as a young dog, being entered into hundreds of races in a few short years. The strain this put his body under resulted in him being crippled with extremely advanced arthritis at the age of just six. Rodney struggled with his behaviour and was quite irritable, but became a different dog as soon as his pain management kicked in. He now lives with our fantastic ex-treasurer, Darren, who regularly chauffeurs him back and forth to hydrotherapy and physio alongside his tablets, which has given Rodney a fresh start and the ability to live pain free.

And who could forget Amy? Poor Amy, born in racing kennels during covid and unable to race, just stuck in her kennel 24 hours a day. No socialising, no outdoor runs, very little human contact. We suspect the first time Amy left her kennel may well have been the day that she was handed over to the lovely people at Battersea. Unfortunately, Battersea is a large centre and Amy was thrown into a very noisy, busy world she didn’t understand. So Battersea reached out to us and asked if she could come to our quiet centre in the hills. She was with us for months before she could really go on a proper walk and even then, she was scared of her own shadow. Staff and volunteers wondered whether she would ever really live a happy life. But then Vivienne and Roger appeared, and offered a quiet, patient home that would allow her to go at her own pace. We offered lifetime backup and support and she has thrived under their care, going on lovely long walks and following them round with a bemused look on her face.

I could go on about all of the dogs. Blind Balo who was facing homelessness, Abbie and Albus, a truly horrific cruelty case, and Lucy, a typical example of so many dogs that come through our doors. We can focus on their sad pasts or we can do what they do and just revel in the joy that their futures are secure for the rest of their lives, as they should be.

I love that for us as a charity. I love that we can do that for dogs, and that our supporters are starting to fall in love with Sponsor a Dog all over again recently. It’s a difficult time for many with the Cost of Living Crisis, and our sponsorship has seen a massive decrease in support over the last few years, but we’ve really shone a spotlight on the cause recently and people are responding to it.

Sponsoring a dog with us now gets you complimentary GRW membership, a shiny welcome pack with a certificate and some merchandise and information about your sponsor dog, our bi-annual Greyhound Express magazine emailed to you, as well as monthly speedy news keeping you up to date on what is going on with the charity, and three email updates a year about your sponsor dog and what they have been up to. All for £5 a month, going towards a cause you really care about. You can even buy a sponsorship as a gift for someone else! 

So to conclude, please do check out our sponsorship page on our website, and consider signing up. You could help us to save a life!