All About Animals: STORY 7. “Bramble Hedge the Greyhound”, by Rob Bullock

Have you ever wondered why a greyhound can run so fast? Faster than any other dog. In fact, nearly faster than every other animal on Earth. Why? Because over hundreds and thousands of years, greyhounds have been specially bred to be super-fast for hunting.

In ancient times, people hunted wild animals for their food. It must have been impossible for a slow-running person to catch a fast-moving animal, so when people saw that their dogs could run faster than they could, they had the brilliant idea of combining a very fast dog with another very fast dog and, magically, they got an even faster dog. After lots of this kind of breeding, we now have the fastest dog of all: the greyhound.

These days, people don’t need to go hunting for their dinner, but they still like watching greyhounds run quickly. They like to place bets on who is the fastest greyhound. Some greyhounds can run at speeds of over 45 miles per hour – pretty fast! In fact, more than twice as fast as Olympic sprinters!

But have you ever wondered what happens to these fast dogs when they lose just a little of their super speed? Well, they have to retire from racing. And most of the time, they are still really young dogs.

My family have a retired racing greyhound. He’s called Bramble Hedge. He’s from Limerick, Ireland, and he’s a beautiful, big, black male dog – the friendliest dog you could ever want to meet. We put our names down for a greyhound with a dog Rescue Trust, and when the lady who runs it saw Bramble Hedge, she thought he would be just perfect for us, and he is!

Bramble Hedge is a really lucky dog, though. The town he came from in Ireland has a Trust that prepares retired dogs for living with people. When a dog retires in Limerick, this trust gets in touch with groups which re-home greyhounds, and they find the dog a loving home.

Some greyhounds aren’t as lucky as Bramble Hedge, though. Some people don’t bother to find homes for dogs. They just think of the dogs as nuisances – something to get rid of. Sometimes they take the dogs to vets, who put the dogs to sleep by an injection. But other times, they take them to people who cruelly kill them. This still happens a lot in the UK and Ireland.

In some parts of southern Europe, especially Spain, even worse things happen to retired greyhounds, whom they call galgos. Hunters and owners are really cruel and kill dogs in terrible and painful ways. Each year, lots of people write to the King and the Prime Minister of Spain to try to stop the horrors. Every spring, lots of good people go to Spain and fetch the galgos back to Britain, France and other countries where they can find loving homes for them.

Greyhounds are wonderful dogs. They love people, they love children and they are easy to train to be friends with cats too. They don’t need many walks, but if you’re offering, they’ll wag their longs tails in delight. Greyhounds really love a nice fire to lie beside and love to know that you are there. They don’t ask for much, but like all of us, they need a good loving home to live in.

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