Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Brief History of Greyhounds

Once upon a time, there was a family named Jones who decided to adopt a greyhound. His name was Jimmy, and he was a beautiful light-coloured brindle. He was kind to the other, very old, family pet, a whippet cross named Jasmine whose sister had recently died. 

The youngest Jones, Pip, remembered being picked up from primary school, in 2000, by her mother and new greyhound. He was patient and long-suffering, laying down for hours so Pip could sketch him for her GCSE art coursework in 2006.

When Jimmy was diagnosed with cancer and had to be put down, the Jones’ were bereft. It was an unprecedented shock. But Jimmy had started something beautiful, and had introduced the family to the most superior of all pets, the greyhound (or long-snout as they are sometimes known in that most strange family). 

By this time, Jasmine too had passed and Pip had accrued a girlhound named Lassie (ridiculous name for a greyhound, but one must not judge). Lassie, or SeaBassie as they nicknamed her, was lonely. The family were lost, staring at the empty space on the carpet where Jimmy liked to rest.

Mother Jones researched greyhound centres and came across Hersham Hounds (aka Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare). Looking out at her, with perfect Malteser eyes which shone like the midsummer sun, was Rio, Hound of the Month. 

Romeo and Juliet’s love story could not compare to the love felt between Mother Jones and Rio. Of course he came home with them. The bond between Mother and hound was stronger than Ironman – Rio walked so close behind Mother Jones that his paws often went inside her slippers. He slept on her bed with his chin on her shoulder. He once gazed at her for a full hour while she ironed – as did her children, but that was more with shock than love. Rio helped to heal the gaping emptiness of Jimmy’s passing. He also helped to start Pip’s GCSE’s off with a bang when, on the morning of her first exam (Spanish listening), he tripped over his food bowl, smashed it, fell on it, and opened his perfectly-formed thigh muscle. Mother Jones nursed him on his dramatic return from surgery.

Lassie was diagnosed with cancer and passed away on 31st January 2008. She was Pip’s hound – they snuggled together, listened to music together, pretended to do homework together. She had been there through Pip’s hardest, loneliest moments at school, and now she was gone. Loss is hard to describe because there is a nothingness which swallows everything – her spot on the sofa, her place at Pip’s side, her lead, her special walking boot which Brother Jones had decorated with the Nike symbol. 

The only thing harder than grieving is watching your deceased pet’s partner in crime grieving. Rio looked for her and wouldn’t settle. He slept in the family’s bedrooms but it wasn’t right.
Off the family went to Hersham.

Princess (aka Princess Pickle Baggins) bounded into the Jones’s life with more force than a Carl Froch knockout punch. When she stopped, dropped and rolled every five minutes on their trial walk, the family knew she was the one – she was odd, just like them. But the strangest thing was yet to happen – and that’s not referring to the jar of pickles she stole and safeguarded on her first night at home. Princess captured Father Jones’s affections by stealth – never before had the family seen him gently caress the ears of a dog, claiming what a lovely hound she was. Never before had he laughed when a hound joined him in his study and proceeded to chew his chair leg. Never before had he had a greyhound sign his Father’s Day card – until Princess. 

When Rio passed in early 2011, the Jones children saw their mother cry for the first time in their entire lives. Pip called her brother at work to tell him, then went home and cried, hugging Princess. She had promised her they would bring Rio home, but they couldn’t. This time, they had not said goodbye properly as he was already under anaesthetic. To this day, there is a Boofle toy which hangs in Mother Jones’s car - it is acknowledged as Rio in spirit.

Mother Jones called Hersham in secret. She told them she had lost her soulhound but she hated not having a boyhound in the house. Mother and Father Jones had had two dogs their entire relationship, and while she desperately wished Rio was still here, we sadly cannot bring back those we love when they become SkyHounds. 

Getting a new hound after losing a beloved one is ridden with sadness, happiness, and guilt. Is it too soon? Would they think we’re replacing them? Why are we here again? Why my hound? Pip waited on the bench outside with Princess, crying quietly. So many hounds which need homes, she thought. 

Out came a handsome black greyhound, with fur silkier than the Queen’s own bed sheets. When he turned his head to look at Pip, she almost fell into a swoon he was so heavenly. Mother Jones knew he was the right one, as ‘he licked my hand when I walked past’. It was apparent on bringing him home that he did not suit his name, Chief – they agreed he couldn’t be called ‘Big Wuss’, so Pip decided on Claus (his nickname is Mr Silks). 

That was in 2011. The family have had Princess for 5 years, Claus for 3 ½ years. The Jones family have adopted hounds from Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare since 2006, and will always advocate the hard work and passion Denise and her team put in to re-homing and caring for these loving, affectionate, gentle (and surprisingly lazy) dogs.

Please sponsor Maxx and I. This really is a worthy cause. 
Once you go grey, you never turn away! 


  1. Brilliant, such a beautiful "tail". They were and are lovely playmates for the Jones household and Klaus and Princess are Eli's best friends :) xx

  2. This is MAGICAL i loled at your humour. Love it plop xxx

  3. Aw Pips this made me happysad. Sitting on a train while reading this was a bad idea! Cute emotional and sweet :) xxx