Born to run: rescued greyhound and owner become jogging companions
PUBLISHED: 11:05 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:05 16 January 2018
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
A shared love of running has sparked a special bond between a retired greyhound and his devoted owner from Hythe who never intentionally set out to find a canine jogging companion
Hythe-based Jane Wren and her rescued greyhound George Grey cover daily distances of up to 1km and up to 5km once a week, despite him only ever being used to sprinting 400 metres in his racing heyday.
George’s ability to sustain longer distances has surprised Jane since the breed is not typically associated with endurance running, rather short bursts of speed. The marathon and ultra-marathon runner never imagined her dog would be interested in her own hobby, which she now relishes even more with a faithful friend at her heels.
Jane, 52, says: “We started to do Park Run together and while George can’t run for three miles solid, he sprints really fast and then he jogs because he burns himself out. However, he does three miles in about 30 minutes, so he’s not doing too badly.
“I never actually thought he would ever run with me, I didn’t get him for that reason, then one day I thought I will just try and have a little run with him; one minute we were setting off and the next we had gone so fast that I thought ‘he can do it!’ We started off with little distances and I thought, this is something he enjoys.”
Originally only fostering four-year-old George from Kent Greyhound Rescue, where Jane volunteers four hours a week, it soon became apparent that the shy and retiring dog had actually found his forever home.
She adds: “When we moved from London to Hythe we didn’t think we would be able to have a dog in our rented flat, so I volunteered to do some admin work at the Greyhound Rescue. I met George and they asked me to take him for a walk and he was really standoffish and I thought, oh good, I’m not going to fall in love with you.”
However, over time the dog won over Jane’s heart and with permission from her landlady, she was able to offer George, whom she now describes as her best friend, a second chance at life.
It is a far cry from his existence since retiring from the racetrack in Ireland and prior to being rescued by the charity.
Jane explains: “He raced up until August 2016 – he did 11 races. He fell and he came to us with scars all down his side. We looked up his racing history and whoever kept him had apparently locked him in a shed from August until January and then he came over to England.
“He was all scarred, he had no fur on his bottom from sleeping on a hard floor and he’s got what we think is a cigarette burn near his eye which is just growing over now – it was so horrible.”
However, George has made a remarkable recovery, gained in confidence and is even helping to raise funds for the charity in order to support the future of other retired greyhounds. He took part in a 5k dog jog in Maidstone’s Mote Park where he and Jane finished sixth place out of 54 entries.
She says: “We started off going up the hill and when we descended it I was flying down there like a mad woman and I thought all these people behind us must think I am taking this so seriously – they must have thought she really wants to win.
“He’s brilliant up hills so he just pulls me up. But I didn’t think we were going to do brilliantly because terriers are much faster than greyhounds. Everyone looks at the greyhounds and thinks they are going to be fast but they are not – they don’t realise that they haven’t got any endurance, so that’s what we had to build up with the training.
“When there’s a dog in front he wants to keep up with them. He’s so different when he’s running because normally he loves carrier bags and he would just go off and sniff one, but when he’s running if I say leave it, he leaves it and just carries on, he’s so well behaved.”
Back at home the pair enjoy a daily run along the Royal Military Canal or by the seafront and a weekly 5k Park Run. Jane now prefers running with her canine pal and misses him when she goes further distances without him.
“We will still do the park runs and there are quite a few off-road ones which are nice. You have to be a bit careful because of your footing. He runs ahead of me at the start and then at the end it’s the other way around, it’s me dragging a greyhound.”
After the high-adrenaline activity George is also partial to slumming it on the couch at home while she treats him to a coconut oil paw massage.
Jane adds: “His favourite thing to eat is sardines, he has them every day. They have made his fur grow because of the oil in them – people say to me they have never seen a greyhound coat quite like his. It’s ever so shiny and it’s completely grown over his bottom, whereas before it was bare.”
George has also become Jane’s inspiration for another hobby. The former accountant, who gave up her job to relocate to Hythe last year, says: “I’ve always loved painting but I’ve never had time, so when we got George I just started painting greyhounds and because I am with him I can get his expression.”
Jane’s next personal milestone is the 2018 Barcelona marathon while George, having proved he is capable of a 5k race, may attempt dog agility for his next fundraising event.
Moving to Kent has been life changing for Jane, who finds it a really dog-friendly county. “Kent seems especially greyhound-friendly because of the Kent Greyhound Rescue being based here, so there are loads of greyhounds around.
Sometimes you are out for hours because of the amount of people who want to chat to you about dogs. It is a nice way of meeting people and the way they talk about greyhounds so lovingly is just great.”
Follow George’s fundraising progress on his Facebook page ‘5k shades of Grey’
Kent Greyhound Rescue
• KGR is a registered charity run by a group of volunteers who believe in helping the dogs find loving homes
• Find homes for around 150 dogs a year, most of whom are rescued from the dog pound
• Administration office is based near Hythe, but the dogs are either in kennels near Rochester or living in foster homes throughout Kent
• They receive no funding from the racing industry and rely solely on public donations to fund the work they do
• To help raise funds, volunteers are out 51 weeks of the year both fundraising and raising awareness
• Although primarily set up to help find new homes for abandoned greyhounds, they also help lurchers and other sighthounds.