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Garry Allen: A life with the dogs

A lot has changed in the past few years for greyhounds. Once perceived as high maintenance, the real character of the breed (a lazy couch potato) is now the common opinion. Likewise, the mental picture most people had of a dog with a muzzle baring its teeth in a race has been replaced with the more accurate ‘goofy friend’ persona.

None of this is a surprise to people in the sport of greyhound racing. They’ve known for centuries that these dogs just love to run, even if it’s just for 30 seconds at 70 kph; and then it’s couch time for very long sleeps…

Garry Allen grew up surrounded by greyhound racing. He recalls going to the Geelong Dogs at the age of ten with his father, uncles and grandfather. Now, at 78, the dogs are playing a more important role.

“They’re just good mates. I love them, and they love me.” He says. “They give me their heart, these dogs.”

“I wasn’t that interested as a young fella; I played golf and sport, and when Dad got a bit older I started to help him out.”

He joined Warragul Greyhound Racing Club and ended up a committee member for 16 years and President for 11; “until they threw me out.”

“They’re a great lifestyle choice. If you can give them a bit of dedication they’ll give it back.”

Now, in retirement, Garry is still surrounded by dogs. He’s got four adult dogs and a few pups that he reckons will be ‘just okay’.

“I’ve got a four-year-old called Boofa – he’s got a big head – who has made a better mate than he was a racer. Just wouldn’t race. Used to hold up the field every time, but he’s just the best mate. Let’s me know what’s going on around the place; even barks a bit when someone comes near the house. Most greyhounds won’t make a noise, but he’ll let me know.”

“They’re a great lifestyle choice. If you can give them a bit of dedication they’ll give it back. I’ve got paddocks and runs, so they’ve got plenty of space to do whatever they like.”

Most greyhounds don’t need big spaces. They adapt superbly, even to small apartments. They don’t need a lot of grooming either; a perfect low-maintenance pet.

Garry’s very happy to spend a lot of his day with them. “I get out there every morning and let them out at about 9, clean the kennels, let them have a run. I’ll be back at 11, then about 4, and back at 9 at night for their last run. The dogs love it.”

It’s not really a chore though. As Garry says, “The more I put in, the more I get out.”

WATCH: Garry Allen features in GRV’s Greyhounds Are My Life series.

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Phillip Weir
About Phillip Weir - Phil Weir is based in regional Victoria and has spent a lifetime working in the media. He has a keen interest in the origins of greyhound racing and is a foster carer for the Greyhound Adoption Program.
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