When Val and Harden lost their eight year old greyhound Doris to cancer in May this year, they barely hesitated before contacting Forever Hounds Trust to see if there was another dog they could adopt.
“We came across greyhounds quite by accident,” Val told us. “We’d always had dogs but we loved whippets and when we lost one of our dogs very young, we wanted to get another. We were told about a whippet cross who had turned up in a pound in Swansea, but when we went to collect her, we thought ‘that’s no whippet!’ Sure enough, it wasn’t – she was a young greyhound and after some initial health problems, with lots of love and a good home, Wendy lived a long and happy life with us.
“From that moment, we were hooked on greyhounds. When we then lost our other dog, we got in touch with Forever Hounds Trust to see if we could find a suitable companion for Wendy. That’s when Doris came into our lives. Doris had been raced on the flapping tracks, which are the unregulated greyhound racing tracks and she was extremely nervous. She was only two when she came here but she was already very scared of people and other dogs. She did get better as she got older, but we always wondered what had happened to make her so fearful. When Wendy died, we decided that we were too old to have two dogs, so for a few years, it was just me, Harden and Doris.
“But in May this year, we lost Doris to bowel cancer and what a shock it was not having a dog in the house! In 44 years of marriage, we’d never been without one, so we immediately got in touch with Forever Hounds Trust again to see if there was another suitable girl that we could bring home. Fortuitously, a few weeks earlier, a little black greyhound had been found abandoned in the Forest of Dean and had been taken into a foster home while she recovered from multiple injuries, including a broken toe. She was covered in pressure sores and extremely underweight so we had to wait a couple of weeks to meet her while she regained her strength.
“She was a little bit older at nearly six, but we felt that she would suit us perfectly as I’m 69 and Harden has not long turned 70! The day she arrived, she pottered around the house and you could tell she just decided to stay. She was ‘our dog’ immediately! She’d been named Matilda, but we called her Gladys – because we were so glad she was here.
“Gladys is such a friendly soul, she comes everywhere with us. She couldn’t be any more different to Doris. She’s so relaxed and friendly with everyone. She comes to gardening club with us and nudges people if they forget to give her a fuss. She’s also a regular at Harden’s art class and we had a great holiday with her this year; we rented a cottage in Wiltshire and did lots of walking and she definitely enjoyed coming to the pub with us.
“We’re very lucky here in Stroud with wooded areas and green spaces, so Gladys gets two good walks a day. But it’s a common misconception that greyhounds need a lot of exercise. They love to run (and I love to see her run) but they also adore coming home and sleeping afterwards. Gladys is a typical greyhound, she’s very lazy, and although her bed is in the kitchen, she does sneak up in the night and get in between me and Harden. She just loves to be with us both.
“Greyhounds are very gentle with lovely temperaments. We don’t have children ourselves but we took Gladys to visit our niece recently and she has two, aged 9 and 5. They adored her and wouldn’t leave her alone. She was so tolerant with them – very gentle and easy-going, although she was exhausted when we got her home!
“We’ve always had rescue dogs – Harden wouldn’t countenance having anything else because there are so many that need homes. And an older greyhound seems to be a perfect fit for us, particularly as we’re getting a little bit older ourselves.
“Gladys fits in with our lives beautifully – she’s adaptable and affectionate and particularly attached to me. We adore her.”