BACKING the launch of the British Heart Foundation’s annual Help a Heart Week, the Retired Greyhound Trust (RGT) says a great way to help your heart is simply to clip a lead on a dog, and get out walking.
Owners of retired greyhounds from across Glasgow set about promoting the health benefits of dog walking last week by taking part in a group walk in Pollack Park. ‘A befitting location considering that Glasgow is the city with the highest heart attack rate in Europe,’ says head of the RGT’s Glasgow branch, Caroline Finnett, who organised the event.
It is well known that a small amount of daily exercise and a balanced diet goes a long way to maintaining a healthy heart. And the charity says that owning a dog encourages people to take part in regular exercise. ‘When it’s just you going for a walk,’ says Caroline, ‘it’s too easy to bow out in favour of relaxing on the sofa or heading to the pub. But when you have a dog wagging its tail at the door giving you a pleading look, you just can’t say no!’
The charity has more than 60 branches around the UK and is dedicated to finding homes for greyhounds when they retire from racing. Caroline, who lives in Ayr, says the greyhound walk in Pollack Park also helped her branch in promoting its central cause – finding more homes for greyhounds. ‘They are real show stoppers and certainly attracted a lot of attention on the walk,’ she says. ‘Greyhounds really do make great pets – they’re affectionate, chilled-out and only need a couple of short walks a day.’
The fact that retired greyhounds don’t need long walks means that they can often make perfect pets for older people, and even those who experience restricted movement. ‘Retired greyhounds are nothing like the frantic dogs they appear to be in their racing days,’ says Caroline. ‘When they retire, they retire good and proper.’
Of course, walking a greyhound isn’t just limited to those who own one. The Glasgow RGT welcomes people who are interested in volunteering as a dog walker at its kennels in Allanton to give the branch a call. ‘Volunteering to walk greyhounds is the perfect activity for those who wish they could own a dog, but are unable to,’ explains Caroline. ‘It keeps you fit, it helps your heart, and it doesn’t cost a penny.’
Contact Caroline at the Glasgow RGT on 01292 263493 to find out more about adopting a greyhound or volunteering as a dog walker. You can also contact the charity’s national office on 0870 444 0673 or log on to www.retiredgreyhounds.co.uk
The RGT also has branches in Edinburgh, on Isle of Skye and in Eyemouth, Berwickshire.