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GRA Canada is operated from rural kennel facilities near London in Southwestern Ontario. It was founded by Bill Cowan who involved himself in greyhound adoption for over 30 years.

Love at first sight...
Bill's first closeup encounter with Greyhounds was at a Home Show at Daytona Beach in March, 1992. He went to the track the next day and volunteered to foster a shy, brindle female called "Nuffy" aka Getum Fasta Nuff. Like many first time foster folks, he failed the course and returned to the track the next day and filled out the adoption papers. Nuffy became his "guiding light". When he moved back to Ontario in the fall of 1992 he decided that he needed to find a companion to Nuffy."

The Start...
He finally found a GPA rep in Ontario, but when he contacted her he was told he couldn't have a greyhound as he lived in an apartment, and should also return Nuffy to the Daytona group. He finally found his second Greyhound in Kentucky in July, 1993. Bandit was a big 85 pound "nut" who continually disqualified himself from races at Wheeling Downs for interference. His misbehaving turned out to be our gain. These were wonderful animals who adapted to apartment, and city life quickly and without problems. He then decided that everyone in Ontario should have at least one greyhound on their couch. He began researching the breed and Greyhound racing. It was obvious that there was no shortage on supply of greyhounds available for adoption.

 

The Call...
One evening the end of August, 1995 he received a phone call from Harold Fisher, a dog farmer from Florida. He had two 10-years old brood moms who needed a home. Could he come for them? He wasn't ready but felt this was either a test or fate. He rented a cargo van and left for Florida. He had six crates in the van and asked Harold if he had more greyhounds needing homes. The next morning he loaded up two 10-year old brood moms, two 7-year olds, and two 6-year old greyhounds. The trip that usually took 23 hours was a lot longer this time. Since he was completely green at this, he stopped every three hours to let the dogs stretch their legs and get some fresh air. An hour away from home, I asked my wife "What have we done?". We lived in a one bedroom apartment on the sixth floor with two greyhounds. Here we are now with six more dogs and no home for them to go to. We stopped and phoned the local TV and newspaper and arranged for them to meet us when we arrived. We made the 6:00PM and the 11:00PM news on TV, and the front page of the morning edition of the newspaper. One of the local vets offered to board the dogs free of charge. The dogs were also fed, bathed, and checked out by these great people. By 5:00PM the next day all six Greyhounds had found homes. This was our first trip, and it is the one we will never forget!

 

Continued...
After six months "working" out of the apartment and bringing in 6-12 Greyhounds each trip, we realized that if we were going to do this "adoption thing", we had to re-group, re-organize, and do it right. We took a year off, moved to the country, and set up our temporary kennel operation. Now we were able to bring in 24 Greyhounds at a time. Three years later the farm was sold and we had one month to relocate. With 8 Greyhounds and a Great Dane sharing our lives as pets, and 31 Greyhounds in the kennel, we had NO FUN finding a new home. However "the Man Upstairs" once again came to our rescue and we found our present location.

GRA is well established at his current location and things have gone well. It averages 20-21 adoptions a month and has not had to advertise for several years. His adopting families and their greyhounds do our promotion. He receives 6-8 phone calls and e-mail inquiries each day. Greyhound families in many cities arrange to have "Greyhound Awareness Days" at local pet stores, vet clinics, or malls to spread the good word about these wonderful animals. Since that memorable weekend trip to Florida in September 1995, Bill has made many dozens more trips to the US and has brought back about 3000 of these wonderful racing Greyhounds to their retirement couches.

 


The Office
Our facilities are located in Southwestern Ontario, near to Mount Elgin, on a 3 acres grass/farm land. We have our office building, and our home separated from the kennel, the kennel yard, and the exercise yard. A laneway of 1/4 mile leads to the back of the property where there is a large, and beautiful 50+ acres lake hosting several species of wild birds such as ducks, and Canada geese, and other wild animals. It is quiet, and peaceful yet it is only about 10 minutes away from Canada's busiest express freeway, Highway 401. In the nice weather many families from London, Ontario, and the surrounding area come out on weekends to walk their Greyhounds, have a picnic, and just to relax.

The Kennel and the Kennel Yard
The kennel building is a barn. About two thirds of the building has been partitioned off, insulated, and painted. A center aisle separates the crates of the males from the crates of the females. It also makes turn-outs very easy. There are eleven "stalls" in total, and each stall can house up to five Greyhounds in individual crates. The stalls are six feet wide, and eighteen feet deep with cement floors for easy cleaning. The crates are located at the back of the stalls which allows us to use the front part of the stalls to turn out the Greyhounds for visitors to see, and pet before deciding on the ones they wish to take out into the yard for a walk. This part of the barn is heated, and air-conditioned for the comfort of all. Large exhaust fans keep the air moving when heat or air-conditioning isn't necessary. The front entrance to the kennel is a room the full with of 40' by 15' deep. It provides us with a quiet place to talk to visitors before entering the kennel. On the left as you enter the room is the refrigerator, freezer, food storage, and preparation area, water heater, and pressure system. On the right is the laundry area with 2 washers, 2 dryers, bathtub, and storage area for the blankets, and towels. It also includes an electric furnace, and air-conditioning system. This area also contains 4 large wire crates for borders or for Greyhounds that are going to or coming from the vet. The area front of the kennel is fenced, and leads to the large exercise yard placed at the side of the kennel. A cement pad at the front door provides a pleasant area to sit, and relax with the Greyhounds. Flowers planted in the flowerbeds bordering the kennel and the exercise yard provide wonderful colors, and fragrant, and the Canadian and American flag represent our bond, and friendship.

The Exercise Yard
The exercise yard is approximately 50 feet wide and 140 feet deep. It is enclosed by a 4 foot wire fence. Over forty tons of sand had been spread over the area to a depth of six inches. Trees along the West side of the yard provide ample shade during the hot summer days. Greyhounds come out to the yard in groups of 2-3-4 depending on the number of dogs in each stall. They are always muzzled when released into the yard. Amount of time outside depends on the weather, but usually it is 10-15 minutes. Morning turn-out starts at 8:00am followed by breakfast. Afternoon turn-out is at 4:00pm followed by supper. Last turn-out of the day is at 10:00pm followed by cuddle time, a treat, and then tucked into bed for the night. When the weather is nice the Greyhounds are let out around noon in large groups for a play time 2 or 3 times a week for about 30-60 minutes. All of these large groups outings are supervised in the yard. During the play time Greyhounds are given the chance to socialize with each other. It gives us a great opportunity to see "who is getting along with who" famously, and who are the ones that should not be placed, and adopted together. We can observe their personalities, and their social interaction skills up-close and personal that helps us to make decisions in providing recommendations about their adoptions. After a long period of time "tearing up" the exercise yard, the Greyhounds come back from the yard with as much enthusiasm as they had when they went out. This is particularly true on a rainy or cold days.

 


The promo card....
The most important thing you can do for all the retired racers looking for a home is to "spread the word". Whether you are walking with your pet or purchasing food in your favorite pet store, please feel free to promote these regal ex-athletes and GRA Canada. Click on the image to the right to view and print a sheet of 2-sided business cards (set up for Avery 10-up) for handing out to people who'd be interested to know more about Greyhounds.

 

The poster....
You are welcome to print and post this poster at work or anywhere appropriate (with permission) to help get the word out. Just click the images at the right to view and print them at full size. (These two posters are identical except for the bars of colour.)

Some forum participants occasionally have extra printed posters available, so feel free to have a look there and get in touch!

 

The "10 Most Important Tips"...
Don't forget that while beautifully natured Greyhounds are better socialized than most of other breeds, they have never been in homes with families before. Adapting to our surroundings, family members, new food, and routine will subject the Greyhound to high stress. Please click on the the picture link to view and print the most important facts for new adopters.