By Karen Carruth

I’m greeted at the door of Janice Reid Foster’s house in Campmuir, near Coupar Angus, with a rammy of barking, jostling and eight tails (and bottoms) wagging furiously as Janice tries to open the door enough to let me in.

Eight greyhounds in one house is a lot of love to receive in one go. No, correction, six of them belong here, two are just visiting.

Janice is on the management committee of The Scottish Greyhound Sanctuary, looking after rehoming and follow ups. Owner of the two visiting hounds is Suzanne Simpson, who is chairperson of the sanctuary, the overwhelming sense you get from these two women is that they absolutely love and adore these dogs.

Greyhounds don’t get the press they deserve, in my humble opinion. But the Scottish Greyhound Sanctuary (SGS) is working hard to educate the public on the benefits of having a leggy lovely like these dogs, which are shoving their noses under my elbow as I write, in your life.

The sanctuary started back in 2008 and they have rehomed more than 1000 dogs to date. The sanctuary differs slightly from other greyhound rehoming services, in that they receive no funding from the racing world, all their income is via donations and fundraising. They take greyhounds, and lurchers, whether they have been racers or hare coursers, it doesn’t matter. Their arms are open to them all.

Some of the other greyhound rehoming services work specifically with ex-racers, and are in affiliation with trainers. The SGS has a wider remit in that they help all sight hounds.

The dogs coming to the SGS hail from a variety of places. Often, they are ex-racers that come over from Ireland, as greyhound racing is still a big industry there. The dogs have a limited racing career, and when they stop winning it seems they become disposable. If they are lucky, the owners contact a rehoming service, such as the SGS, if not, they are put to sleep, and not always humanely.

Janice and Suzanne have many horror stories to tell about some of the dogs they have rescued, which are harrowing to listen to. However, when they come into the care of SGS they have struck gold. They go initially to kennels in Yorkshire before they go to foster homes for assessment. Their temperament and behaviour is assessed, and with the help of the sanctuaries excellent team who have varying skills to offer, a rounded service is offered to these dogs to start their rehabilitation.

Janice talks about the mental state of the dogs when they come to them: “They are often totally shut down. We had one who stayed under the table for two weeks, terrified of any contact. Patience and love is what is needed. They are all very individual as to what they can cope with.

“Some can’t take a lot of noise, can’t be rehomed in the city, they sometimes need to be introduced to other breeds of dog, as they have never seen another type of dog before. They often have separation anxiety as now that they have found security and love, they really want to hang on to it, and you.

“You’ve got to remember that these dogs were basically institutionalised before we get them, so it takes time for them to understand the new rules and to feel safe.”

The SGS receive the dogs, they are microchipped, neutered, and vaccinated, and off they go to the team of fosterers they have all over Scotland.

The people who want to own a greyhound fill in a form on the website. They are then contacted by the team by phone and they discuss their needs, there is then a home check carried out before matching the dogs to their new owner can happen.

The dogs come with a collar, lead and a muzzle, and the sanctuary asks for a donation of £150 to cover the cost of the veterinary work etc, and they offer a comprehensive follow-up service. You will get a call a few days after adoption, then a few weeks later. SGS encourages new owners to contact as soon as possible with any issues they have. It has probably happened before and they will have answers for you.

Greyhounds were initially bred by Royalty for the hunting of deer. The keen eyesight of a sight hound and their long legs made them perfect companions on deer hunts. These days, they may be trained as 40mph sprinters, but the majority of their time after a walk if spent horizontal with legs in the air.

Being an owner myself of a terrier, hens and guinea pigs, I wonder whether it would be wise to look at a grehound as a family pet. “Of course,” says Janice. “I have hens here, they don’t even look at them. Initially, like all dogs they have a sniff, but they soon learn what is allowed. I can take my dogs over the fields and let them run. I would say that the one thing that will have them shooting off is still deer.”

Seeing greyhounds regularly muzzled gives the impression of aggression, but actually it is because their sleek physique means their skin is prone to cuts when they are playing with the other dogs, it stops any skin scrapes from mouthing.

Suzanne says the biggest misconception about greyhounds is that they need lots of exercise.

“They don’t need any more exercise than any other dog. I find it funny that people pay money to take their dogs to these fenced dog parks. The pay for an hour and after ten minutes of dashing around, the greyhound is at the gate wanting to go home, exercise time is over.”

Suzanne tells me about Jude, a beautiful big boy that is being petted in the kitchen. She takes him to local care homes as he is a Therapet.

“He loves going as the attention is non-stop. I take him in, and the people at the care home get his name wrong and call him Jimmy, but it doesn’t matter, they just love him coming in, and he loves the attention.”

The ladies tell me about how they find that retired people are a great fit for greyhounds.

“Some dog rescue services don’t let retired people adopt dogs, which I find incredible. We know that our dogs who have gone to retired couples have all the love and attention they would ever need.

“One chap that we rehomed a dog to, found himself in the position of having no family, and his wife had passed away, he felt very isolated.

“Not now, he is out three times a day walking his dog, which has opened up lots of other opportunities for meeting new people.”

Like all dogs, each dog they get in has its own personality. That’s the importance of the assessment process.

The sanctuary wants the new owners to bond with their new dog, and they take great time and care to make sure that owners know what they are taking on.

Janice who is one of the rehomers is obviously not great at passing on the dogs she takes in to foster, going by the six that are littered all over the house.

She says that what she has is a pack of short term sprinters, but huge couch potatoes. And that is one of the many reasons she loves these dogs.

If you are looking for a four-legged friend to join your family, take a look at their website and the good work they are doing. They make terrific family pets, they are great with kids and are big enough that you won’t keep falling over them!


The SGS has recently received five dogs (a sixth one is on its way) from China, where a huge dog racing track in Macau was closed down amid claims of cruelty and concerns about animal welfare. There were 600 dogs that had to be rehabilitated and rehomed, and the greyhound-loving world jumped into action to swoop in and help these animals, lots of which were in very poor condition, mentally and physically.

The SGS has a lovely video of the dog’s journey, coming from China to the UK, on their website. These animals got to Heathrow after flying via Frankfurt and they still appeared at the exit gate with tails wagging after five days of travelling. They have now been allocated foster homes until they find their forever homes.