As the famous saying goes ‘a dog is a men’s best friend’ and one woman who is hoping that there’ll be a few people out there looking for a canine companion is Reston’s Sonia Graham.
For the past seven years Sonia has been running a greyhound rescue centre in the village and at one time had as many as 30 dogs in her care.
The centre, run as the Scottish Borders Retired Greyhound Trust, currently houses 26 and Sonia is desperate to find good homes for them all although she she admits that for that to happen, people will have to change their negative prenconceptions about the breed.
“Like other dogs, greyhounds have unfortunately had their share of bad press over the years,” she conceded.
“If one’s attacked a cat or another dog you’ll probably get to hear about it but that doesn’t seem to be the case with other breeds like spanniels and terriers.
“People see greyhounds racing with their muzzles on and they think that they’re predatory and all they do is savage things but the fact is that they’re actually very placid animals and don’t need any special treatment.”
Ever since having a greyhound as a pet, Sonia has developed a great affinity for the breed and as well as not being the aggressive breed that some would have you believe, according to her greyhounds aren’t the high maintenance dog that many people presume them to be.
“People need to find out more about greyhounds before judging them.
“For a start they aren’t as big a dog as some people think they are and they’re actually cheap to have. There’s this myth that they require long walks all the time but that’s not true at all.
“Essentially as long as they get a bit of exercise every day they’ll do as little or as much as their owners want to do. Like many humans they love their bed and they’ll sleep wherever you want.
“Some will curl up like a cat while others prefer to doze stretched out with their legs up.
“You don’t need a huge house if you’re thinking about having a greyhound - they aren’t the type of breed that will jump about the place- and you don’t necessarily need a garden.”
Quick to dispel some of the stereotypes of greyhounds being unsuitable for families with young children, Sonia said nothing could be further from the truth, labelling them as “the perfect companion.”
“Greyhounds are brilliant with children,” she enthused.
“They can go with large families, small families, couples or people living on their own.
“And they don’t have to be the only pet in the house. They are perfectly fine with smaller dogs and cats.
“They don’t smell and because of their lack of fur they are ideal for people who have asthma but still want to have a pet.
“Some of the dogs I’ve had here have become pets for people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters. They’re not the type of dog you see dragging their owners along the street- you don’t need to be young and super fit to have one- they really are the perfect companion.
“They’re great for retired people as they’re so chilled out.”
Sonia said the proof of just how good natured greyhounds are is the fact that every week she has a group of adults with learning difficulties visit the rescue centre and they and their carers feel completely at ease with the dogs.
“The dogs are so gentle and they love spending time with people. As well as the adults from Northstar coming in we’ve also had a few school visits and the pupils always have a great time.
“Greyhounds adapt amazingly quickly to whatever situation they’re put in.”
It’s a testament to her admiration for greyhounds that Sonia is fully committed to making sure that if the time comes for them to be re-homed, they go to the right home.
“I’ve re-homed a lot of dogs locally and every time one goes to a good home I class it as a success story,” she continued.
“Like any breed, all greyhounds are different and have their own personality traits so if someone comes in interested in taking one I try to give them the one I think will most suit their circumstances.
“I always say to any new owners to get in touch with me should they have any problems or concerns but I rarely here from anyone which is encouraging.
“I don’t do open days at the rescue centre but people can contact me should they want to come and visit. They can come and just have a look around if they want; there’s no pressure on them to make any firm commitment.”
If you are interested in re-homing a greyhound or visiting the rescue centre contact Sonia on 07967057759 or visit www.borders.retiredgreyhounds.co.uk.