A retired racing greyhound called Dexter is enjoying life in the slow lane after being adopted by care home residents in North Wales.
Five-year-old Dexter is now part of the family at the Woodside Grange Care Home in Rhos-on-Sea where he brightens the mood of everybody he’s around, especially those with dementia.
It’s a happy ending for their four-legged friend who was saved from a life of misery by Shropshire-based charity Hector’s Greyhound Rescue.
The pampered pooch now even has his very own care plan in place, logging his favourite activities (sleeping!), treats and food preferences, bedtime routine and walk times!
He’s also proved a dab hand at care home life, giving the residents a gentle nudge when it’s time to go to bed and escorting them to their rooms – in return for the odd biscuit.
Such was the strong connection he had built with one elderly resident, her family requested Dexter’s presence at her funeral in a touching tribute to their relationship.
Woodside Grange now wants to encourage other care homes in Wales to consider adopting their own greyhound thanks to the positive impact it has had on mental wellbeing.
Praising their approach, Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “Dexter has made a wonderful addition to Woodside Grange and has improved the lives of all those who come into contact with him.
“We’ve known for some time how beneficial pet therapy can be for fulfilment and relaxation and I’m delighted Woodside has taken it to the next level by offering a full-time home to Dexter.
“I’m sure many other care homes would reap the rewards of a full-time four-legged resident and I wish Hector’s Greyhound Rescue the very best of luck with their search for homes.”
Dexter was being advertised for sale on a website when he was brought to the attention of the charity by a member of the public in Oxfordshire. The retired racer, who was living in a dirty and cramped shed, appeared in photographs to be desperately thin and in poor condition and she was concerned for his welfare.
Thanks to a generous donation by the woman and her friends, amounting to some £280, and the charity’s own funds, Hector’s was able to recover Dexter and pay for vital veterinary attention, which included the removal of 15 rotten teeth and fleas and worm treatments. He then spent time recuperating at a volunteer’s home before being introduced to the care home.
Woodside’s owner, Michelle Snook, said: “When it was first suggested that we should adopt a greyhound I was very apprehensive. I’m a massive dog lover and I was concerned that things wouldn’t work out and he would have to be returned to the rescue.
“I needn’t have worried. From day one the rescue worked with us to ensure that a dog compatible with the challenges of a busy home was chosen. Dexter came with his foster mum for some day visits before joining us permanently.
“He has been a joy, he enhances the day for the residents, staff and visitors. He greets everyone with a wagging tail and makes us all feel special and loved.”
Resident Freda Ashley, 83, from Conwy, certainly agrees.
“He’s excellent! I looked forward to seeing him every day,” she said.
Fellow resident Margaret Latchford, 77, also from Conwy, added: “He’s part of my family. I love him so much.”
The home is keen to support Hector’s Greyhound Rescue and encourage other care homes to consider adopting their own greyhound.
“We are really keen to get other care homes involved,” said Woodside manager Jackie Bodden, from Colwyn Bay.
“Greyhounds are a good height so they don’t get under anybody’s feet. Dexter’s very lazy and spends most of his time on his back with his legs up in the air. Everybody has fallen in love with him.
“He’s part of the family and he’s very important to them. All the residents and visitors know him. We’ve seen a massive difference in everyone. He brings them so much pleasure. They just connect with him.”
Hayley Bradley, founder of Hector’s Greyhound Rescue, has been rescuing greyhounds for more than 20 years. She set up the organisation in 2002 and now has a dedicated group of volunteers across North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire and Shropshire who devote their time to saving and rehoming ex-racing greyhounds and other sighthounds.
The charity, which spends all of the funds it raises on the care of the greyhounds and rescues around 20 greyhounds a year, relies on foster volunteers to care for the dogs until new homes can be found.
“The majority of racing greyhounds have good trainers and once they’ve stopped racing they will hand them over to the rescue centres like ourselves who take them in,” said Hayley, 46, who lives in Shropshire.
“There is a percentage, however, that will give the dogs away or put them on social media where they can end up being used as bait dogs or for hunting or breeding. They can get in the wrong hands and end up in the pound or abandoned on the A5.”
Helen Wilkes, the charity’s North Wales’ ambassador, added: “We endeavour to match the right dog to the right home and we knew immediately that Dexter was a perfect match for Woodside Grange. He’s an Irish ex-racer who was living in desperate circumstances when we rescued him but he’s now living in luxury receiving all the attention that he loves.
“Greyhounds make perfect companions as they are very laid back, quiet and somewhat lazy dogs!