To look at Benji the Greyhound now you would have no idea of his troubled past. A few scars are all that remains to tell the tale of his early life. Well, that and the memories of the team of volunteers at Forever Hounds Trust, a charity dedicated to rescuing and finding happy forever homes for greyhounds and lurchers.
Benji started life as a racing greyhound in the north of the country. His scars show that his racing life couldn’t have been a happy one. However, his trainer retired him from racing and gave him to a new owner to look after. Unfortunately for Benji, he wasn’t used to life outside the racing word, and when a passing car frightened him he got off his lead and ran away.
A local lady who dedicates much of her time to helping to find lost dogs was asked to help, and in turn Forever Hounds Trust became involved in trying to help Benji, who had become feral and terrified of being near humans.
Laura Andrews, Volunteer Regional Homing Officer for Forever Hounds Trust, picks up the story. She says: “We were very lucky to have several local residents set up feeding stations for Benji, but he evaded every capture attempt we could possibly think of. He was like a ghost – appearing in a field and then disappearing a second later. Incredibly, he saw out two freezing winters like this. We still to this day have no idea where he slept.”
Eventually, after 57 weeks of living in the wild, on the 13th of February 2012, the volunteers looking out for him managed to capture him and move him to safety. He was going to need a lot of rehabilitation before he could live life as a pet and therefore his owners relinquished him to the care of Forever Hounds Trust.
Laura decided the best way to help Benji was to foster him herself. She explains: “I have looked after several nervous dogs over the past few years, but I have never had one as shut down and fearful of humans as Benji was. It was very slow progress. He did not bond with other dogs and was very much enclosed in his own world. He found it very difficult if we had visitors, and if we went somewhere strange he would often become ill and have bouts of vomiting for the next few days.”
It took six months before Benji would let Laura get near him. It became clear that Benji’s road to recovery would be a long one. There was a huge risk that if he managed to get off the lead he would not return. Forever Hounds Trust decided that Benji was such a special case he would become one of their ‘sponsor dogs’, which meant that the charity would support him for the rest of his life. This support meant that Benji would be able to remain with Laura and learn to live life as a normal, happy, hound in his own time.
Five years on and Benji is doing so well that those who don’t know his story would never guess that he has had such a difficult time. He is a normal, happy, bouncy, cuddly Greyhound!
Laura adds: “Benji has made an amazing turn around. Only in the last year has he really shown us any love and affection. It has been a massive step for him and we couldn’t be any prouder! It just goes to show that you should never give up trying to capture a lost soul and never give up trying to gain their trust and affection.”
Forever Hounds Trust exists to help greyhounds and lurchers that are in need of their forever home. Thankfully Benji’s story is one of the rarer ones, and there are many dogs being cared for by the charity that are ready to live life as a pet. If you think you could offer a home to a greyhound or lurcher, or could make a donation to help take care of dogs like Benji, please get in touch with Forever Hounds Trust on 03000 111 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can sponsor Benji by following the link here: /product/benji/