"Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love." -- Ray Bradbury
I was mad about dogs (the bigger the better!) from a very early age and was always asking the neighbours if I could walk their dogs and collecting strays which I was never allowed to keep if they weren't claimed. My family weren't particularly dog-lovers, but after much pestering I was finally allowed a puppy for my 10th birthday. Not the Great Dane that I wanted, but a tiny black toy poodle! Still, a dog was a dog and I loved Ricky with a passion. Unfortunately tragedy struck four years later when he was attacked and fatally injured by another dog whilst out on a walk. I was severely traumatized by this, of course, but my parents bought me another toy poodle, Jamie, and my love for the breed continued. When I was sixteen I trained to be a dog groomer and bought another poodle, this time a miniature female, whom I called Andrea, from a well-known kennel. I bred a litter of puppies from her and kept one of her sons, Robin, who lived to be 15 years old. At this point in my life my dream was to own my own boarding kennels and grooming business and to this end I gained a Diploma in Boarding Kennel and Cattery Management from The College of Animal Welfare. However, although I did work as a groomer for eight years, my dream of owning my own boarding kennels never reached fruition.
At this point in my life greyhounds weren't even on my radar as a breed I ever wanted to own. My mother had an intense and irrational dislike of greyhounds and told me that they were vicious dogs and I was to keep away from them. At first I believed her, but as I grew up a number of things caused me to question this. I used to show my poodles and saw greyhounds at these shows and was struck by their beauty and also their calm demeanour. A few years later I was working at Wood Green Animal Shelters in Heydon as a volunteer in the kennels and later as an administrator on their Lost and Found Helpdesk. During my time at Wood Green I was struck by how many greyhounds there were in the kennels and by how sweet and gentle they were. It was then that I resolved that my next dog would be a greyhound and a year or so later, after Robin passed away, I adopted my first greyhound, Charlie, from the Retired Greyhound Trust. Charlie was the most amazing greyhound and became my best friend and devoted companion for the next ten years. He was followed by Teddy, who we lost to bone cancer only four months after we adopted him, and then by litter mates Sunny and Sophie, who passed away in August 2016. I'll be writing more about my late greyhounds in future blogs.
After Sunny and Sophie passed away I knew that, for several reasons, it was not the right time for me to adopt another greyhound of my own. I also needed to earn a living and I wanted to do something I loved and that had meaning for me. Our bungalow and garden were already set up for greyhounds, and I could think of no better way to earn a living than by caring for them, so it wasn't long before I decided to set up a home-boarding service specifically for greyhounds. I didn't have to think at all about what to call it because the name “Always Greyhounds” had been in my head for years.
As is usually the case when following one's heart, a number of synchronistic events followed which helped me on my way. In particular, I will always be grateful to Louise from Whittingham Kennels RGT for starting me off on my new venture by introducing me to my first client Amanda and to Amanda for trusting me with her beloved Peter.