Thursday, 30 September 2010

Betty, the retired racing greyhound

I adopted Betty via the Retired Greyhound Trust when she was three years old and the racing kennels at Billingshurst, where she had previously lived, was sold. Not having the temperament for racing, she had stayed there as one of a couple of extra dogs along with the racers.

Although already house trained and great on the lead, she had to be taught to use the stairs and could only be let off the lead in an enclosed place - she could still run pretty bloody fast even into her old age. Only once did she respond to another breed of dog: we met a German Shepherd which had been a guard dog at the Hove greyhound track; the owner said his dog would remember every dog it had ever met, having been stationed next to the traps to stop new dogs being substituted for the ones checked out by the vet before the races.

Betty retained her athletic musculature throughout her life, along with a distinctly regal bearing, despite being extremely lazy - only venturing from one of her several beds around the house when she smelled cheese or some other delicacy. I used to take her to the design studio every day, where she had a bed under her own desk and performed a very valuable meet-and-greet service, popular with (almost) all of out clients. Many friends - and my partner - who claimed not to like dogs, loved her because she was so un-doglike: she didn't drool or jump up, never barked or howled and she had the most gentle nature imaginable. She was more like a large cat crossed with a small horse than a dog! This meant it was really easy to find people eager to look after her when we went on holiday.

She loved being made a fuss of and being told she was beautiful, trips out in any form of transport (cars, trains, buses), walks on the South Downs, eating leftovers and sleeping. She most definitely did not like us making her wear paper Christmas crowns or any form of headgear, something that made the rest of us roll around with laughter - she was a very serious and dignified dog (which, of course, made it even funnier).

Betty lived a long and happy life and died in her sleep in March this year at the grand old age of 14. I shall never forget her but I am planning to get another greyhound: I regularly check the Retired Greyhound Trust's website, where they list the dogs ready for re-homing, at

No comments:

Post a Comment