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How your time could heal a hound this Christmas

greyhound-walesFollowing the commercial chaos of Black Friday and Cyber Monday came the gentler, kinder Giving Tuesday. A much-needed antidote to the must-have bargains, Giving Tuesday restored the balance and lit up Twitter with the true meaning of Christmas, as good thoughts and deeds across the globe reminded us what it’s all about.

Greyhound Rescue Wales is among the many charities making appeals at this time of year, but not just for funds and donations of doggie bedding and food (although these are, of course, always extremely welcome!). One of the most precious things supporters can give to GRW is their time and, this Christmas, the Wales-wide organisation is urgently appealing for canine fosterers to help care for some of the most seriously injured racing greyhounds and lurchers that come into its care.

Giving these dogs a last chance at life is GRW’s special rescue scheme, the Last Hope fund, which pays for life-saving treatment for ex-racers with injuries so severe they would otherwise be put to sleep. Each year, GRW welcomes about 100 greyhounds and lurchers to its Hillcrest rehoming centre in Ammanford, many of which have sustained injuries on the track or have been abandoned in dire circumstances. The Last Hope fund is quite literally the last chance for these beautiful creatures – but they require a little extra TLC as they recover from treatment and, as a result, new volunteers with time and space to spare are needed.

Last Hope was the name of a greyhound left for dead on a mountainside in the Rhymney Valley in 2004. He was discovered by a walker, lying on a heap of litter with his ears cut off and a hole in his forehead, and was later humanely destroyed. Determined to create a positive legacy from such cruelty, GRW established the Last Hope fund in his memory and launched an annual fundraising walk to help rescue, treat and rehome greyhounds and lurchers in similarly desperate circumstances.

One greyhound to be saved from a certain death by Last Hope is one-year-old Maude, a former racer adopted by Magdalena Gryczmanska of Carmarthenshire, in August. Maude arrived at Hillcrest suffering from a hock fracture – probably the reason she had been marked for disposal – but, thanks to the fund, she was treated at St James’ Vets in Swansea, where the joint was fused using a bone graft from her shoulder.

greyhound-WalesAfter a week at St James’, Maude, whose leg will never be completely flexible, was able to fully recuperate with the love and care of a wonderful foster family before finding her forever home. Magdalena says: “I don’t think the people who left her walking with a broken leg taught her to trust easily but, since she’s been rescued, she’s been treated with kindness and love. Maudie is now a happy, resilient girl who adores people, and I don’t think we can overestimate the role of her foster carers in this. She is recovering well, loves her walks and is finding that the world around her is full of lovely surprises – she just loves life!’

GRW founder Alain Thomas says: “The Last Hope scheme is unique to Greyhound Rescue Wales. It is a big commitment to take in substantial numbers of injured dogs because we know that each dog is going to cost us about £1,500 in vets’ fees and will then need up to 12 weeks’ care and attention. So far, we have not turned an injured dog away and we want to be able to keep saying ‘yes’, but to do so we desperately need some new foster carers to come forward.”

Caring for a Last Hope hound usually involves making sure they do not over-exercise while a fracture is healing, and trips to the vets for regular check-ups. Support from experienced staff and volunteers is given and all expenses paid. If you can offer ‘Last Hope’ at Christmas, email or call GRW’s national helpline on 0300 0123 999.