On 30 May 2021 five new gardens were opened at ‘Greysland’; Greyhound Rescue’s Rehabilitation and Rehoming centre at Bargo, NSW. Nat Panzarino, Greyhound Rescue’s President, explains: “These unique gardens are a major component in enabling Greyhound Rescue’s staff and volunteers to rehabilitate hounds. The more that we can do to rehabilitate them, the more easily they can be rehomed. More hounds rehomed means more hounds saved from euthanasia.”

The gardens were opened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Michael and Kim McTeigue, the founders of SavourLife, who donated $50,000 to make the gardens possible – the biggest single grant the company has made. SavourLife is a family-owned Australian company that donates 50% of profits to pet rescue organisations. Among the guests were Greyhound Rescue’s sponsors and supporters, members of local community groups, as well as media personality and Greyhound Rescue Ambassador, Ash London.

Most rescued Greyhounds have little experience of the outside world

The life of a Greyhound in the racing industry typically involves training, racing, and lots and lots of hours left on their own with little stimulus. When they arrive at Greysland they experience human kindness, often for the first time, and positive techniques to help them come out of their shell and prepare for adoption in their new forever home.

The five purpose-designed gardens were created at Greysland by Great Southern Landscapes; three sensory gardens, one training garden and one ‘Buddy Garden’ named after Michael and Kim’s rescue dog who was the inspiration behind the SavourLife brand.

The three Sensory Gardens – Splash, Explore, and Adventure – are designed to gently expose the hounds safely and slowly to new things while unlocking their problem solving and critical thinking skills, which have often not been activated in their previous lives. Nat Panzarino says: “Building a greyhound’s confidence in themselves and in humans and human kindness is key to their success as a family pet. These spaces are also used for desensitisation and counterconditioning with other dogs, as many greyhounds have only been socialised with other greyhounds.”

According to Kira Booth, Greyhound Rescue’s Kennel Manager: “A study published last year revealed that dogs that are given more opportunity to forage and use their sense of smell become more optimistic and confident, directly improving their welfare. These sensory gardens will provide greater ‘nosework’ opportunities for our kennel kids as well as opportunities for them to use and boost their other senses in a safe environment.”

The Training Garden will further Greyhound Rescue’s education programs and support the community and their dogs. Nat Panzarino explains: “At Greyhound Rescue we run GO! (Greyhound Obedience) classes to educate new adopters on how to work with their new dog using positive and force-free techniques. Having recently launched the GO! courses in the uncertain times of a global pandemic, we have been impressed by the number of people wanting to attend and we now have an extensive waiting list of participants and a mountain of positive feedback from attendees.”

The ‘Buddy Garden’ is a calm and wonderful space that sets the stage for a beautiful new relationship; this is where rescued greyhounds are first introduced to their forever family and the beginning of their incredible new life.