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Volunteer Toni & Heidi

“Busting myths about greyhounds is so rewarding”, says GAP Volunteer Toni Barnes

Toni Barnes’ love of greyhounds happened swiftly, and when she fell, she was in for the long haul. It all started in 2013 when she undertook a greyhound assessor course, which lead to her adopting Elly the greyhound just one week later!

Her love of the breed means she loves busting myths about greyhounds. As a volunteer for Greyhounds As Pets, she takes enormous pride in her role talking to people about her own beautiful, calm four-legged friends and introducing people to greyhounds that they may one day adopt.

“Most people only ever see greyhounds as racing dogs and so they think they’re scary. They also assume that greyhounds have masses of energy, need lots of exercise and are hard work to keep,” said Toni. “In fact it’s the complete opposite – they are calm, low maintenance, and low energy. They need about 20 minutes of exercise a day…”

Toni, who has a dog grooming and training business on Sydney’s northern beaches, has been volunteering for Greyhounds As Pets since 2013. “I was learning to assess former racing greyhounds for their potential to become domestic pets and in the process, I fell in love with Elly the greyhound I was working with. The next week I took her home.”

Sadly, Elly has since passed away but Toni’s love for this breed has never left her. She now owns three greyhounds: Heidi who is two and a half; Ernie, who is nineteen months old and Lexie who is two.

“I take Heidi, Ernie and Lexie to Greyhound promotion days. When people see that the dogs are quiet and they just lie there barely moving, they get the confidence to come closes, pat them and talk to us about owning a greyhound. People of all ages come to see us, to ask about the dogs and to pat them – children, adults who’ve lived with a fear of dogs, and elderly people. We also get lots of people with disabilities coming over to give the dogs a cuddle. It is so rewarding to watch people walk away with a different idea of what greyhounds are like.”

Recently Toni volunteered with other greyhound owners at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. For the entire fourteen day show, she talked to people about owning greyhounds. “It was exhausting, but fantastic. After the first weekend two greyhounds were adopted straight away – just because of our presence at the show,” she said.

Toni’s other role as a volunteer is to help on greyhound adoption days. “Prior to adoption days I learn all about the greyhounds that are available to be adopted so I can talk with potential greyhound owners about the personalities of the greyhounds available.

“One of the reasons I was attracted to volunteering with Greyhounds as Pets is that I believe in the way they operate. They are very careful to make sure the greyhounds they adopt out are ready to live in a home environment. They get to know the greyhounds really well and work hard to match them with each prospective owner’s home and lifestyle. I’m really happy to volunteer my time to help them ensure the best possible future for greyhounds and their owners.”

In the next few months, Greyhounds as Pets, along with Toni and other volunteers, will be introducing greyhounds to members of the public at the Millions Paws Walk on Sunday 21st May run by RSPCA, an Adoption Day at Petbarn Campbelltown on Saturday 27th May, and at the Bulldogs vs Dragons NRL match at ANZ Stadium on Monday 12 June.

Contact for Toni is: toni@paws4effect.com.au