Little Chubbs – as he would become known – and his siblings were just four days old, when Stephen Keep went to the kennel one morning to check on the new litter, and instantly noticed a problem.
The problem was with one of tiny pups’ paws, and Stephen headed straight from their home at Warragai Creek between Casino ad Grafton, to his local vet.
“We got up one morning and went in to let her (Chubb’s mother) out, and the first thing I noticed was the problem he had with his foot,” Stephen explained. “We took him to the vet and the vet thinks that his mother must have either laid on him or trod on his foot, and this led to the injury, because she is so heavy, and he was just four days old and tiny, it severely damaged the foot.
“We were devastated but glad he would eventually be ok. He was the only dog in the litter. Thankfully the vet was able to fix the foot, but he would never be able to race.”
It wasn’t the first time Stephen and his partner Shannon had had to deal such a situation.
“We have a girl, Sandy, who is two-years-old now. Her mother laid on her leg, and the leg never grew properly, but she’s still with us. Just because they can’t race doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a good life and Sandy enjoys her life,” he said.
With Chubbs’ situation, Stephen and his partner Shannon had heard of the recently created Regional Greyhounds As Pets program in the Northern Rivers, and contacted the program’s coordinator, Louise Amey.
“When Stephen called and spoke about Chubbs, I was only too happy to bring him into the program,” Louise said.
“People think that GAP is just about older dogs after their racing careers, but we are keen and happy to take greyhounds of all ages. And who doesn’t love a puppy?
“We have only just fostered out a five and half month old pup named Ollie who is a gorgeous boy. His trainer called and explained that Buddy – that was his name then – had a hip problem. He wasn’t going to make a racing dog, and his trainer asked if GAP would be interested.
“It has worked out so well for him. His foster carer loves him, and we’re hoping that she may eventually adopt.”
While greyhounds of all ages, sizes, colours and quirks make great pets, Stephen pointed out that there is also a big advantage of getting a greyhound pup as a pet.
“He is a lovely pup with a beautiful nature, and he will grow with his new owner, and will be eating out of their hand at 12 months old … and no doubt be spoilt for life,” Stephen said.
“We have always kept or rehomed our dogs, but it’s good to have this Greyhound As Pets program up here, as I know there are a lot of people who would love to have a greyhound as a pet.
“I went to Grafton (races) last week, and the security guard at the gate told me he was looking for a greyhound. I had a dog in who really wasn’t keen on chasing, so I stopped on the way out and asked him if he’d like to take her for a week and see how she went.
“He loves her, and she’s getting on great with his labrador … they even sleep together now.”
Greyhounds As Pets General Manager Dr Alicia Fuller reiterated that the organisation does not only focus on greyhounds once their racing days are over.
“As part of the kindness pandemic that has dominated our community mindset during the coronavirus pandemic we have seen a fantastic increase in interest from people wanting to adopt or foster greyhound companions during this time of self-isolation” she said.
“While most of our adoptees are dogs which have retired after their racing career is over, it’s wonderful to see some young puppies come onto the program. At GAP NSW our mission is to assist in rehoming all greyhounds leaving the industry who are suited to life as a pet, whatever stage of life they’re at. Post-racing is the most common group, but we welcome the opportunity to re-home puppies and young greyhounds, as well as the older greyhounds post breeding, all who make equally great pets.”