Caring for Canines
I never thought I’d be living with nine greyhounds. But after falling in love with this often inhumanely treated breed there was no turning back.
I’ve always been a dog lover. In 2000 my husband John and I went to Arizona and happened to walk past a greyhound race track. I was intrigued—but knew nothing about the abusive treatment rampant in racing. My husband discouraged a visit and I resolved to learn more about the breed from home.
I learned that in 1995, 30,000 healthy young dogs were euthanized, often under inhumane circumstances, for not running fast enough. I swore then that my next dog would be a greyhound. My first attempt to adopt one was unsuccessful because I had cats. But then I learned about Chinook Winds.
This organization changed my life. Who knew that Edmonton had such a hearty volunteer spirit, and that my love for these animals would be right at home. I went to a meet-and-greet and fell in love with one of the dogs, and when my husband later walked into the small shop, all the canines turned and looked at him. We were both sold.
Days later Zinny, a two-year-old dog, came home with us. We began volunteering with Chinook Winds and I’m now the Vice President. Throughout the years we’ve fostered dogs, and most of the nine we now own were ones we just couldn’t let go; one had been in six previous homes, another had a broken leg without tendons, and another had one eye.
Edmonton provides great support. We are part of the Downtown Business Association’s Jingle On Indoor Parade (the greys are Santa’s reindeer) and it’s been so much fun. Edmonton pet stores help us get the word out about adoption, and West Edmonton Mall allows us to do meet-and-greets. Edmonton has allowed us to build a big volunteer base of foster homes and people willing to transport dogs. Meet-and-greets in other cities are never as well attended as here. There’s just something about this city that seems to foster a giving, energetic attitude.
My employer, Alberta Health Services, has been generous and flexible with my volunteerism. I’ve worked with them for nine years and my current position is Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Central Zone North. We have a give and take relationship. If a dog is in trouble, they help me fulfill my desire to help.
I work about 40 weekends per year helping greys. In 2010, 95% of greyhounds finished their racing careers were placed into loving homes.
Debbie Ward has a love affair going with her nine greyhounds. When she became involved with Chinook Winds, her life was changed. Now the Vice President of the volunteer organization, Debbie feels grateful for the support she receives from her employer, Alberta Health Services for the time they allow her to help with her special dogs.