The Adventures of Dora, the Runaway Greyhound

Thank you to those who have bought my little book, The Adventures of Dora, the Runaway Greyhound and to those who have provided feedback. This book is dedicated to all Greyhound Rescue Organisations and their amazing volunteers. Without them my lovely Dora and previous rescue greyhounds would not have graced my home and heart. This is a history of how Dora entered my life and why I chose to write about her. 

Dora entered our life in September 2017, after being rescued by Friends of the Hound a few months earlier, and spending some time in a loving foster home. We were not looking to add another greyhound to our family at that time as our seven-year-old hound, Cairo, had recently partially torn his ACL and was recovering slowly with conservative management. But I kept seeing posts of a lovely senior, black girl, called Dora.

Dora the Greyhound

She was with FOTH in QLD, and I was in NSW, so that may be an impediment to adoption I told myself each time my heartstrings pulled.

Surely someone would see Dora and want to adopt her, but each time I looked online she was still available. I watched a great video FOTH had prepared of Dora in her foster home, with her other four-legged buddies. She interacted well with them, she shared her toy, she was happy in the car, she could even sit! What was the problem? Was it because she was black and a senior girl at 8 years old?

I felt sure the video would do the trick but a week later Dora was still available. I gave in and picked up the phone, to receive the news that Dora had just had a meet and greet and the prospective adopter was thinking about giving Dora a home. I breathed a sigh of relief and tried to dismiss the overwhelming feeling that Dora was meant to be in my family.

A few days later I got a call from FOTH to say the prospective home for Dora had fallen through and was I still interested in providing a home for Dora. I knew at that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, that Dora was meant to come to me. I know there will be those of you who can relate to this feeling. I do believe greyhounds know where they are meant to be.

I have often heard people say you don’t choose them, they choose you.

Maybe they are correct. And so began Dora’s journey back to NSW, where FOTH had originally rescued her from many months earlier.

From what I know the first eight years of Dora’s life had been appalling, like so many other greys in the racing industry. Photos of her living conditions would have broken the heart of even the most hardened of individuals. I understand from those who retrieved Dora initially that her physical condition was equally appalling, and her rescue was not without its own dramas. One of which was her getting free and running across a road of busy traffic in panic.  A heart stopping experience for her FOTH rescuers. It is this event that provided inspiration for the opening chapter of my book.

I was lucky, Dora had been prepared so well for family life by her wonderful foster carers. Not only did they care for her, they drove from Queensland to bring her to her new home. The plan to meet half way was shelved when her foster mum decided she needed to deliver her to our home and see for herself where Dora would live. I have no doubt it was incredibly difficult for this lovely woman to part with Dora and I think she left a little piece of her heart here with Dora. I also have no doubt if she had not felt comfortable with any aspect of Dora’s new living arrangements and her new humans Dora would have returned to Queensland with her in an instant!

Dora never looked back really. She entered her new home like a whirlwind, and after a quick walk around the property with Cairo, she selected a comfortable leather lounge covered in a sheepskin rug and settled down for the evening.

Dora the Greyhound

Despite her shaky start in life, she was a confident, resilient greyhound who accepted her new home and humans easily. She had some insecurities but most dissolved over time.

There were times when her wild side surfaced, particularly when doing zoomies, zigzagging around bushes and trees with uncontrolled abandon. Cairo watched on bemused by this bossy, skinny, black greyhound’s antics.

Of all the previous female foster girls who had shared his life none came close to Dora’s high energy or bossiness. He watched on as she took on the role of supreme ruler of hounds, in his previously quiet house. Only once did he reprimand her, when she ran past him snapping at his face like a demented turtle. Normal behaviour for her after a zoomie, but this time I think she got too close for comfort. In a flash Dora was on her back pinned to the ground as Cairo gave her a loud warning growl and stood over the top of her. Within seconds it was all over, without injury. They walked to their water bowl for a drink and then trotted off together, as if nothing had happened.

Dora did however display a new found respect for Cairo’s personal space after the incident. He taught her so much about life in a family and they lived contentedly in harmony until his death in 2019. There was little doubt she missed Cairo, as her usual spark dimmed and she looked for him for weeks. But she was able to take on a new role as mentor to another black and white rescue hound in March 2021, when Monty came into our home as a foster. He had been in our local animal shelter, taken on trial by a prospective adopter, and was in the vet clinic having removal of a lump when the adopter unexpectedly pulled out of the arrangement. Possibly due to the medical problems that had been identified or for other personal reasons. We will never know and it doesn’t really matter. That’s when on request FOTH stepped in and I was able to take him home to foster. I had fostered for other greyhound rescue organisations but this was my first foster experience with FOTH.

Monty was of course a foster fail. After months of care and four surgical procedures we couldn’t think of rehoming him and by then Dora loved him too. Her life continued in gentle harmony with the new hound in her life. She was independent, funny, sometimes feisty, and always happy. She was never happier than in the company of children. Her superpower, apart from being able to sit, was as a listener and she liked nothing better than a good story, provided by a small human. There are so many stories I could recount about Dora’s life but they will have to wait for another time.

Dora the Greyhound

Sadly, Dora got her wings on November 11th 2022, at almost 14, after a brief battle with osteosarcoma. Everyone that met Dora loved her and many greyhounds found loving homes because of her star appeal.

She was a wonderful ambassador for her breed. I wanted to keep her memory alive not just for those that had known and still loved her but for those who had never met her.

I believe the only way to bring about change in the future, in terms of greyhound racing, is through education of the younger generation, so I decided to write a series of books to highlight the plight of racing and discarded greyhounds, through the adventures of Dora and her friends. It was a challenge; how could I write a story without exposing vulnerable young minds to the brutal soul-destroying racing industry? I chose a villain, after all most books have a villain, even children’s books. He wasn’t given a name because he didn’t deserve one.

Fortunately, children loved the fact that the villain got covered in green slime and none of the children that read the book prior to its publication expressed fear about the book’s content. It did raise healthy questions, as to why the dogs were locked in cages, and why didn’t the ‘man’ love them?

A great starting point for parental discussion. I have been thrilled to hear that since reading the book some children have asked can they have a greyhound and can they wear their Dora the Greyhound badge to school? Children need to see greyhounds through a lens of love, as they would any other breed of dog in their home. I think one way of encouraging that is through storytelling.

Only when every greyhound gets to run for fun and only ever on his or her own terms will we leave behind a kinder world for our children and grandchildren. I hope with all my heart that day comes sooner rather than later. Dora rightly deserved her name Dora the Adorable. She would be delighted that all the proceeds from the sales of The Adventures of Dora, the Runaway Greyhound are going to Friends of the Hound, to support the critical work they do in rescuing and rehoming greyhounds.

Carolyn Williams, author of The Adventures of Dora, the Runaway Greyhound.

Dora the Greyhound