Thank you Ben, for changing our lives.
Because of you we now have three greyhounds in the house. We have fostered another one. We have got involved with GPTR in order to help other greyhounds.
We lived in the centre of Bath and having recently retired could now think about getting the dog for which we had been waiting over 20 years.
'How about a poodle - a proper one, not one of the little ones?'
'Mmm, - a bit big. I would like to have a dog that can curl up on my lap.'
'How about a dachshund, or a little terrier?'
'Yes, OK - let's go and look at dogs at the RSPCA Open Day just coming up'
At the Open Day we were somehow attracted to the tent of a greyhound rescue charity. We knew nothing about greyhounds except that they were fierce dogs, not really pretty, and certainly not suitable for pets.
Talking to the lady behind the table I put all these points to her (no, I don't know why either!). She said 'Look under the table'. Now I had felt something soft land on my foot while the conversation was going on - I looked down and there was a soft, appealing pair of eyes looking at me from a beautiful head that was resting on my foot. The head belonged to a gorgeous grey-fawn body making up a dog that I wanted there and then.
'Well, you can't have that one because he's mine' said the lady!
A greyhound was definitely for us, especially when such lovely animals were being tossed out when their racing career was over due to age (4yrs!) or injury.
We went to a greyhound rescue open day and fell in love with this big white and fawn lad called Ben. We couldn't take him there and then because we had nowhere suitable to keep him or walk him in the centre of Bath - but that spurred us on to find a place in the country. He had to go back into kennels until we could find a new home.
We got a telephone call some weeks later to say that Ben was pining and could we please take him as soon as possible. Of course we did - Ben ran out of the kennels and nearly knocked us over as he adopted us on the spot. We quickly learnt that Ben had definite ideas on where he should sleep - right next to our bed. He didn't seem to mind walking around Bath; his idea that humans were there to be investigated for potential friendliness got us into many conversations.
We moved into rural Wiltshire and Ben was delighted. We walked along the canal and through the fields. His investigation of potential friends was especially delightful with regard to small children, he was so gentle with them. If he had wandered off while I was talking to someone I only had to say 'Ben, come and say hello' for him to lollop back with a huge grin on his face to meet yet another new friend.
We were told that having a greyhound is like eating potato crisps - you're never satisfied with one. Of course not.
So we got Polly who had just come out of racing. She and Ben made a fine pair. Their walks through the village and along the canal became part of the local scene. Visitors trying to find us were told to ask for 'the greyhounds'.
One of their pleasures was a visit to an arboretum where dogs can roam freely.
One warm June afternoon Ben really enjoyed himself running up and down the slopes chasing Polly.
He died the next morning as he collapsed on his walk along the canal.
He suffered a massive internal haemorrhage and nothing could save him. He was six years old.
All the family wept, we were heartbroken.
We have planted a dogwood shrub in the garden as a symbol of you, you will never be forgotten.