On International Women’s Day, we reflect on the enormous influence that Judy Wilson is having on GRV’s thriving Greyhound Adoption Program.
The greyhound racing industry is regarded by most involved as equitable; a level playing field where women and men equally share the passion for the sport and love of the greyhounds.
On the racing side, owners, trainers, breeders and handlers are just as likely to be women as men and the tenet of respect, which is taken for granted in the industry, doesn’t waver on the basis of gender.
When greyhounds retire, nothing on the playing field changes. GAP is the most successful greyhound adoption program in the world and gender doesn’t enter the question for who loves and cares for the dogs.
The company of a canine for retired people can be a godsend. For some it’s a chance to apply gallons of love and affection for the same return; others a distraction and reason to be more active, and for some a tremendous way to meet people and widen social circles.
For many, greyhounds are the perfect breed. They’re low-maintenance, affectionate and don’t require a lot of exercise; in fact some of them shun the opportunity in favour of staying on the bed…
Judy Wilson is something of a greyhound ambassador in Geelong and loves dogs for all of these reasons. Apart from her two dogs she also ‘sort of manages’ the Geelong Greyhound Walking Group, which she took over eight years ago and built into a crowd of more than 500 followers. Once a month up to 80 devotees bring their dogs of all breeds, their families, bikkies and cake and have a good walk and talk.
“There were about a dozen people in the group when I started, then we got onto Facebook and people joined in from all over. We’ve got all sorts of dogs, as well. It’s important to show how well greyhounds get along with other breeds. We’ve got foxies, whippets, Labradors, all sorts.”
As for the advantages of canine company, Judy tells us “We had an older lady join who wasn’t quite sure about greyhounds, but once she adopted and joined us her doctor says blood pressure is down, she’s walking better and she’s just healthier, from the company and the walking.”
Judy also provides something of a ‘test drive’ with greyhounds. “I get a lot of people ringing me and asking about the suitability of the breed, so I invite them over for morning tea to meet my dogs and even take them for a walk. That’s the best way for them to find out how gentle and loving they are.”
Their nature also makes them ideal for retirees on the ‘Grey Nomad’ trek. “Lots of people we meet take them camping or in a van, they’re just so easy to look after.
The walking group has turned into something of a major social group; they even do Kris Kringle for the dogs at Christmas. Judy is infectiously enthusiastic about the number of family members who come along. “We had some people who were just walking their dog around the same park, so we invited them to join us. Three years ago they got a greyhound and now they’re with us every month!”
The walking group always welcomes new members. Judy is proud of the fact that it’s a safe group, online and on the walk. Have a look at their fantastic Facebook site, it’s full of wonderful photos and messages. You can also join them at Fyansford Common on the third Sunday morning of every month. You don’t need a greyhound, but be ready; you might just find you want one…
PHOTO: Judy Wilson and her charges at the Geelong Greyhound Walking Group.