Volunteering to walk greyhound adoptees puts a new spring in one's step

STYLISH PUP: The recently rehomed greyhound Betty White relaxes with her new owner. Photo: courtesy of GRNSW

STYLISH PUP: The recently rehomed greyhound Betty White relaxes with her new owner. Photo: courtesy of GRNSW

Out in the fresh air, with a greyhound at her side, Shannon Prior is giving back to the community in what she considers to be the most effortless way possible.

She gives up her time to exercise greyhounds as part of the Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) program. Shannon is part of a team of volunteers providing the vital service.

Not only is she keeping the greyhounds in the process of being rehomed in good health and all-around wellbeing, but she is also equipping them with the skills they will need when a new family adopts them.

The combination of being outside and being in the presence of animals is good for people's mental health, especially after a trying couple of years.

It is a good thing for the soul, Shannon says. "For people who would like to volunteer, you're outside and you are with an animal, which has been proven to be calming. It's a win-win," she said.

"I think it would be a great thing for people who are on their own to do because you do meet people when you're outside, and you're with an animal.

"I think it's a good thing to give back."

When out and about with the greyhounds, volunteers give the greyhounds that are up for adoption a chance to adapt to their new life.

The outings help them get used to walking in the street, the noises of cars, having bicycles go whizzing past, and seeing how they react to different people, situations and things.

Of course, Shannon's role was never going to be restricted to caring for other people's future pets. Her own new adopted greyhound, Betty White, is now well and truly part of the family.

That is a relief to everyone, particularly Shannon's whippet, Carmen, who was still mourning the loss of her last whippet companion when Betty arrived.

Betty White immediately stole hearts. "She's just a darling at 22 months old," Shannon said.

"She's quite tall and so delicate and cute. Just gorgeous, white with spots, she's absolutely lovely, but I would have her pink with black spots if need be."

Shannon has developed a love for sighthounds (breeds that primarily hunt by sight and speed) and advocates for them as the perfect pet.

"If you like sighthounds and get used to them, they are such a mellow dog, apart from they have their little zoomy moments," she said.

To inquire about opportunities to volunteer for the GAP program and find out more about the areas in which it operates, you can visit the website at gapnsw.com.au/volunteer.

"You can nominate times when you are available," Shannon said. "And who wouldn't want to be with a dog?"