A long and slender head, tapered to a small black snout, cuts a sharp profile on the leopard-print throw. Its dark eyes are heavy and resigned to sleep. Its mouth is parted like a smiling crocodile. With one lean leg folded towards its broad chest, it rests the other in the palm of its owner’s hand.
These are the intimate moments on display at Every Greyhound Has a Story, a new photographic exhibition presented by Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) and captured by photographer Josh Robenstone. The exhibition gives poignant insight into the relationships between former racing greyhounds and their adopters.
The exhibition aims to raise awareness of the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) that has successfully re-homed more than 4500 greyhounds across Victoria since its inception in 1996 – dogs that may not have found homes without the assistance of the program.
Characterised by their light, muscular build and a deep, capacious chest that shapes a curiously alien and elegant form, greyhounds are renowned for their explosive speed and agility on the racetrack. But for many of these beautiful dogs, life after competitive racing presents the biggest hurdle due to the prevailing public opinion that these ex-racers are unsuitable as pets and companions around the home.
“What people don’t realise is that they’re sprinters, so they tire really quickly and they actually don’t have any stamina,” explains Greyhound Adoption Program Manager, Larissa Darragh. “They’re a really, really placid dog. As long as a greyhound has a soft couch or a soft bed, it’s happy.”
Based in Seymour, Victoria, GAP re-homes hundreds of greyhounds each year to help them find permanent homes once their racing careers are over or if they never quite made it to the racetrack. GRV acknowledge it has a lot of work to do to improve greyhound welfare and has recently created an animal welfare department. The adoption program is part of this process, and looks to change public perception of greyhounds as suitable pets.
Every greyhound that enters the program is temperament tested, desexed, wormed, micro-chipped and vaccinated with the associated costs of these measures heavily subsidised by GRV, meaning the adoption fee is just $75. They then complete a period of foster care to acclimatise them to the sights, sounds and routines of the home environment before they are paired with a potential adopter.
Captured in settings ranging from suburban parks and cafes, through to nursing homes and even prisons, Robenstone’s photographs endear their audience to the affecting desire for companionship that both humans and canines seek. They also remind us that a home for these easy-going, playful, and sometimes lazy greyhounds, allows them a new chapter to their story.
Every Greyhound Has A Story is on display from March 14 to 20 at 524 Flinders Gallery, 524 Flinders Street. Entry is free.
Broadsheet is working with Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program as a media partner to support this exhibition.