The sensory gardens where rescued Greyhounds learn to be pets

On 30 May 2021 five new gardens were opened at ‘Greysland’; Greyhound Rescue’s Rehabilitation and Rehoming centre at Bargo, NSW. Nat Panzarino, Greyhound Rescue’s President, explains: “These unique gardens are a major component in enabling Greyhound Rescue’s staff and volunteers to rehabilitate hounds. The more that we can do to rehabilitate them, the more easily they can be rehomed. More hounds rehomed means more hounds saved from euthanasia.”

The gardens were opened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Michael and Kim McTeigue, the founders of SavourLife, who donated $50,000 to make the gardens possible – the biggest single grant the company has made. SavourLife is a family-owned Australian company that donates 50% of profits to pet rescue organisations. Among the guests were Greyhound Rescue’s sponsors and supporters, members of local community groups, as well as media personality and Greyhound Rescue Ambassador, Ash London.

Most rescued Greyhounds have little experience of the outside world
The life of a Greyhound in the racing industry typically involves training, racing, and lots and lots of hours left on their own with little stimulus. When they arrive at Greysland they experience human kindness, often for the first time, and positive techniques to help them come out of their shell and prepare for adoption in their new forever home.

The five purpose-designed gardens were created at Greysland by Great Southern Landscapes; three sensory gardens, one training garden and one ‘Buddy Garden’ named after Michael and Kim’s rescue dog who was the inspiration behind the SavourLife brand.

The three Sensory Gardens – Splash, Explore, and Adventure – are designed to gently expose the hounds safely and slowly to new things while unlocking their problem solving and critical thinking skills, which have often not been activated in their previous lives. Nat Panzarino says: “Building a greyhound’s confidence in themselves and in humans and human kindness is key to their success as a family pet. These spaces are also used for desensitisation and counterconditioning with other dogs, as many greyhounds have only been socialised with other greyhounds.”

According to Kira Booth, Greyhound Rescue’s Kennel Manager: “A study published last year revealed that dogs that are given more opportunity to forage and use their sense of smell become more optimistic and confident, directly improving their welfare. These sensory gardens will provide greater ‘nosework’ opportunities for our kennel kids as well as opportunities for them to use and boost their other senses in a safe environment.”

The Training Garden will further Greyhound Rescue’s education programs and support the community and their dogs. Nat Panzarino explains:

“At Greyhound Rescue we run GO! (Greyhound Obedience) classes to educate new adopters on how to work with their new dog using positive and force-free techniques. Having recently launched the GO! courses in the uncertain times of a global pandemic, we have been impressed by the number of people wanting to attend and we now have an extensive waiting list of participants and a mountain of positive feedback from attendees.”

The ‘Buddy Garden’ is a calm and wonderful space that sets the stage for a beautiful new relationship; this is where rescued greyhounds are first introduced to their forever family and the beginning of their incredible new life.

BACKGROUND
Little exercise, no doggy smell, and they snooze on a sofa for up to 19 hours a day
Greyhounds are generally sweet, placid, loyal hounds who make wonderful pets. They win you over within moments of meeting them and love nothing more than lying on a couch next to you, getting pats and treats. Despite their well-publicised speed, they are homebodies who can easily sleep for 19 hours a day. They have a curious habit of lying on their backs with their legs stretched in different directions when they feel safe and comfortable. It is called roaching.
Because Greyhound Rescue puts so much effort into matching the hounds to the right humans and homes, Greyhounds adopted from the organisation have an amazing record of success as rehomed pets. Greyhound Rescue’s social media channels are full of stories of happy hounds living with even happier humans. It helps that Greyhounds are ridiculously photogenic.
GREYHOUND RESCUE
Every year, the Greyhound racing industry in NSW relinquishes a large number of Greyhounds that are no longer wanted. Some have been looked after well, others may not have experienced a moment of human kindness.
Greyhound Rescue’s purpose and passion is to ethically rescue and rehabilitate them and find them a loving forever new home. The organisation helps educate the public on the many attributes that make Greyhounds wonderful pets, and works with organisations such as the Greyhound Welfare Integrity Commission – the independent regulator in NSW – to improve Greyhound welfare standards. Greyhound Rescue relies on fundraising and donations to continue to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome Greyhounds. The organisation is staffed predominantly by over 250 active volunteers who give their time regularly to care for the hounds at the Greyhound Rescue Centre.
Greyhound Rescue was founded in 2008 in the backyard of a private home. Over the years the organisation’s activities have expanded, and it now rehomes around 300 Greyhounds each year. This is the largest independent Greyhound rehoming organisation in Australia and the only independent rehoming organisation in NSW to operate a kennel facility.
The kennels provide a safe environment that enables Greyhound Rescue to take hounds that other organisations reject, and who would otherwise be euthanised.
When they arrive at Greyhound Rescue many Greyhounds require rehabilitation before they are ready for their new life as a pet. An integral part of Greyhound Rescue’s role is to use positive techniques to allow them to come out of their shell before introducing them to new experiences in preparation for their life as a pet and a loved family member.
There are always far more Greyhounds on the waiting list than room at the kennels. As soon as one leaves, another takes its place. The better equipped Greyhound Rescue is to rehabilitate and rehome them, the more Greyhounds can be rescued; saving their lives and giving them a second chance in a new home.

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