Reader's Story
–by Misty

My name is Misty and I am a 5yr old Greyhound girl. I live a very happy life with my Hooman Mum and Dad and my two brothers, Harley, a black Labrador and Jasper who is a Lurcher - but my life wasn't always like this.

I was born in a place called Ireland. I had my mother and my brothers and sisters for a while but when I was still quite small, I was taken by a man who did something to the inside of my ears which really hurt and then he put me into a place on my own. It was quite dark all the time and the floor was very hard - this I realised was my new home and I was very lonely. A man would come and feed me and sometimes he let me outside but I didn't see anyone else. I missed my mother and my brothers and sisters but if I cried the man shouted at me. I didn't like that so I stopped crying.

After I had grown a bit the man  who said he was my Owner started to take me out for walks. I liked the walks but I didn't like the cage thing that he put on my face - but it was good to feel the fresh air. When I grew a bit more my owner let me run. He said I was a "good girl" and that I would "earn good money". I didn't really understand but it was better than being shouted at. Gradually the walks got longer and then I had to run round and round really fast after a small furry thing on a string, I never caught it but my owner seemed pleased with me. I was quite big by now and my owner said it was time to go to the "Track".

I didn't like the track. My home was even smaller (they called it a kennel) and I didn't get fed as often. If I had to run.....they called it racing......I didn't get fed for a whole day before the race. My owner would rub something bitter into my gums which made me want to run really fast. There were lots of other dogs there like me but we weren't allowed to be together, we called out to each other when we were in ,our kennels but the men shouted for us to be quiet.

Before a race we were all walked around the track by the kennel maids. They were mostly quite kind to us and would stroke us to keep us calm when the people shouted. Sometimes one or more of the other dogs would fall over on the track when we ran........we never saw them again.

I was a good runner and came first many times but I was always afraid of falling. My owner was pleased when I came first and called me a "good girl". One day I stumbled and nearly fell. I didn't come first that day and my owner was very angry and said I had one more chance to be first or I would "have to go". I didn't understand and when I had to race again I was frightened I would fall so I didn't run fast enough to come first. My owner was so angry, he shouted at me and kicked me hard, I fell over and everything went black.

When I woke up I was in a little cage thing. There were other dogs around me also in small cages. I asked where we were and one dog said we had been "sold on" and we were on a ship going to a place called England. I was very frightened.

I had good reason to be frightened because if I thought my life had been hard, where I was taken to was a hundred times worse. My new man was quite young but there was an older man too and I didn't know why but  he terrified me.

My new "home" was a dark place, the floor was just dirt, there was some paper stuff on the floor for me to sleep on and a bowl of water which tasted horrible. I was left on my own for ages. Then the younger man came and fed me some scraps of food. It didn't taste very good but I was so hungry that I ate it all up. I needed to go out to relieve myself but nobody came and in the end I had to "go" in my home. I was so ashamed.

It was a very long night and I was very cold. In the morning the older man came. I cowered in the corner but he grabbed me and pulled me outside. He then tied a rope around my neck and pulled it tight. But when the younger man came he loosened it a bit and told the younger man that he needed to start training me straight away. The younger man was my new owner and at first he talked to me kindly but if I didn't do what he wanted he shouted really loud. I was supposed to run after little furry things called "hares" and catch and kill them. I tried really hard to please him but I hated what I was doing because the hares were gentle creatures and harmed nobody. Other people would come to watch me run sometimes but If I didn't do well the older man would beat me when we got home. I still have a mark on my back where he hit me with a heavy stick. I couldn't move for days it hurt so much. He would also hold the little white burning stick, that he kept hanging out of his mouth, against my legs until I screamed, I still have some of the scars  from that too.

It wasn't all bad, occasionally my owner would just take me for a walk. He would talk to me and although I didn't understand the words I think he didn't like what the older man did to me.

The Summer time was better as I was allowed to be outside in the daytime. I was tied up but it was good to feel the sun on my back and if it rained I could get inside my home. The Winter came too soon though and I was shut away again, sometimes several days went by before my owner came to feed me or give me water. I had to relieve myself in my home and the paper stuff that was my bed got very wet and smelly. It felt as if my skin was burning on my back, legs, and my bottom. When we went out I couldn't run fast any more and my owner was cross all the time. He said I made a fool of him in front of his friends when I didn't catch the hares.

Gradually my legs got very stiff and sometimes I just didn't want to get up because it hurt. My eyes got all itchy too. My owner and the older man shouted at each other a lot and I think it was because of me. I tried to be good and do what my owner wanted but it was very hard.

One day my door opened and a new face appeared. I was frightened but the voice sounded kind. It was a lady (I found out afterwards that the voice belonged to a rescue lady). She reached into my home and her hand was very gentle on my head. I could hear the older man shouting and I started to shake. The lady kept on talking to me in a calm kindly voice, telling me it would be alright and that she was going to take me to a place where I would be safe. I didn't really understand but I struggled up and went to her. It was hard to walk so she picked me up and carried me. She put me into a car. I had been in a car before but this was very different - this one was soft and warm. The lady got in with me and although I was still shaking she held me gently and talked to me all the time. Soon a man got into the car as well and we started to move away from the place that had been my home.

The lady told me that we were going somewhere called the"Vets" where I would be looked after and that this was the start of my new life. I was still very frightened but she was so gentle and kind that I started to relax a little. Then the car stopped!

A lot of people came and took me away from the lady and although she told me it would be alright it was very scary. I tucked my tail right underneath my body and growled but their hands were gentle and I was too tired to fight so I just let them take me inside a big building.  A nice man  who said he was a vet felt my body all over. He looked into my ears and my eyes and then he looked into my mouth and touched my teeth. Some of them hurt and I cried. I saw him shaking his head and the young lady who was there with him was crying so I licked her hand to tell her I was alright. The young lady carried me to to a place where  she stood me in some warm water and washed me in something called "shampoo". I didn't like the smell but my body felt so much better. After that she dried me with a big soft piece of stuff, she put some drops into my eyes and they felt better too. After all of this I  was put into a cage, but it wasn't like the cages I had been in before, this one was bigger, it was also soft and warm and they fed me some delicious food. I could have eaten more but they just smiled and said it was enough for now! I had fresh water too, it was like heaven to me and for the first time since I had been with my mother I curled up and slept without fear.

I was woken up by the vet man who had looked in my mouth, he was smiling and told me not to be afraid, another young lady put something on my front leg. It made me jump and I cried out but she stroked me and talked and suddenly I felt very tired and closed my eyes.

I woke up to the sound of the young lady talking to me and stroking me, I felt a bit funny and my mouth was sore, some of my teeth were gone! I managed to lick her hand and she smiled a lot, I drifted back to sleep again feeling safe and warm. Next time I woke up there was the lady who had rescued me. I can't remember her name but she seemed very kind she stroked me a lot too. The lady said she was taking me to another lady who would "foster" me. I wasn't  sure what she meant but I trusted her. She put a warm coat on me and a collar and lead. I waited for her to put the cage thing on my face but she didn't and I was really happy. I tried to wag my tail but it didn't wag very much so I licked her hand, she seemed to like that!

Off we went in another comfy car. I felt a bit scared and couldn't help shaking but the lady said everything was fine and I would like my new place.

When we arrived there was another lady, a man and a young boy. They were very kind and they showed me where I would sleep on a comfy blanket. The food they gave me was different but very nice. I had a bowl with fresh water and they took me outside into what they called a "garden" so that I could relieve myself. If this was my new life I was certainly going to enjoy it. The only thing I didn't like was where they had put my bed so I dragged my blanket under a long seat against the wall where I felt safer. My new people didn't seem to mind and I was happier.

I had only been there for a few days when a man came to see me. He had another Greyhound with him, a boy, much bigger than me. We were taken into the garden. I was a bit scared of the boy dog who told me his name was Major and that he was in charge and I had to obey him! He chased me about and although I didn't like him very much it was fun to run about. The Hoomans seemed to think it was good too and smiled and laughed a lot. After the man and Major had gone my lady told me that the man would be back in a day or so to take me to my "forever home" where I could stay. I wasn't too sure but the man had been nice and I was determined to make friends with Major.

My first day in my forever home was a bit strange. My blanket was quite comfy and the food was good but every time my new owner made a fuss of me, Major got in between us. My owner laughed and told him "No" but Major nipped my ear when he wasn't looking! After several days my ears were quite sore and one morning I bit Major back. He growled and went for me again and we ended up fighting. My owner was very cross with Major but said it was his home first and he thought it was best if I went back to be fostered again so I found myself back where I had started. I thought my foster lady would be angry but she wasn't at all and made a real fuss of me and said she was very sad that things hadn't worked out as she had hoped.

I settled back very quickly and hoped that I could stay forever. After I had been back for a week or so my lady told me that the lady who had rescued me was going to bring more people to see me. I didn't like the idea of that very much but she said it would be fine. They were bringing two other dogs with them and my heart sank. I was lonely but it hadn't worked out with Major and I didn't want that again.

I needn't have worried. When they arrived they made a fuss of me straight away and the two boy dogs that had come with them were very friendly too. We all went outside and the boys and I played chase and it was real fun. The Hoomans smiled a lot and talked together. The boys who were called Harley and Jasper told me a bit about their home. They said their garden was really big and they had nice food and lovely comfy beds but best of all they said they wanted me to go and live with them! I started to wag my tail and my lady said it was the first time I had wagged like that and everybody laughed a lot and we all got dog treats, it was a very good day and I was sad to see them all go. My lady said that they would be back to take me when my rescue lady had made sure that my new forever home was just right for me and she said she didn't want me to be upset again.

When the day came my new Hoomans were there nice and early to pick me up but they were on their own. I was very nervous but they said the boys were at home waiting for me.  After they had spoken to my lady and the rescue lady we set off. I couldn't stop shaking. Part of me wanted a forever home but part of me was very sad to say goodbye. My lady whispered in my ear that if it didn't work out I could come back and that made me feel better. It was a long journey and I was still shaking. My new lady sat with me in the back of the car. She talked softly, stroking me all the time and gradually I stopped shaking and snuggled into her body.

When we arrived I was quite excited. My new man went and got Harley and Jasper and the boys had been right. Their garden was very big and they took me all round it. My new Hoomans just watched quietly whilst we ran and played. All of a sudden I needed to run really fast because I felt so good. The boys said it was called happiness and they ran as well but they couldn't catch me. Jasper was the closest but he gave up after a bit. I ran and ran, round the house and back again. I didn't have to do it but I just wanted to. My Hoomans laughed and said I was a "super-dog"

When we went inside, the Hoomans showed me my beds - yes! - I had two beds! I had one in the hallway in between the boys beds and one in the bedroom. There were no stairs in the house so I could just go where I wanted. My second bed was under what my lady said was her dressing table. I still felt a little nervous so I stayed in the bedroom. I wasn't sure about the bed - it looked comfy but I had only had blankets before. I curled up in the corner and faced the wall, I know it was silly but I was afraid that I was only dreaming and I would wake up in my old home. The Man and the boys stayed away but after a while the lady came and sat next to me, she stroked my back, my head and fondled my ears so gently, she said it was alright to be scared but that I was safe with them. She said the man and her were my new Mum kand Dad and that they were giving me a name too....they were going to call me Misty. I had never had a real name before. My mum stroked me again and told me to try my bed then she went to another room.

It took me a few weeks to settle. Things were so different here. The boys played with me, we went on walks and I learned to come when my name was called. The boys and I all ate together in the kitchen and then went outside in the garden. If it was raining, I had a warm coat and if my face got wet my Mum or Dad would wipe it dry for me.

I've been in my forever home for a year now and I couldn't be happier. My fur has grown over most of the scars on my body and my Mum says it shines like satin. My mind has healed too and I no longer shake with fear. I wag my tail all the time now and my Mum and Dad say I make them smile every day. There have been a few ups and downs like when I hurt myself and had to go to the vets and have stitches, everyone there was very kind and they made me better - oh, and when I ran off. Someone came to our house and when the gate clicked open I thought I was back on the track so I just ran. It was very scary but my Dad found me and bought me safely home. At times I still need to be alone, not because I am frightened but for some peace (the boys can be a bit much sometimes, but everyone understands).

A few weeks ago we all went to a nice place where I saw my lady fosterer she said I looked so different now, like "chalk and cheese" .....I didn't get any cheese though and I like cheese! There were lots of other dogs there with their Hoomans and we all went on a lovely walk together and I said hello to nearly every other dog there. It was a long day but we all enjoyed it. It was lovely to get home though.

I hope you have enjoyed my story. There are so many dogs in the world like me and I think our stories should be told and more of us should get forever homes like I have. We have so much love to give to Hoomans. All we ask is a little love back, a warm bed and some nice food and we will love you forever.

Nose bumps and a very waggy tail from Misty.