“When you adopt a greyhound, you adopt a community”

Florence was never going to make it as a racing greyhound. Trained in Rangiora by Calum Weir and his partner May Cutler, she never even went to the racetrack.

“She didn’t even trial,” says Cutler. “She was just not into it; she prefers belly rubs.”

And so, she was adopted out instead to a loving home in Dunedin. But a few weeks ago, Florence slipped out of the gate of her new home.

Meredith Fleury, who has been helping greyhound rehoming groups in the Dunedin area for five years, runs a Facebook page called ‘Dunedin Greyhound Community’.

“Late afternoon on the Friday, I noticed some posts on a Lost and Found page that Florence had gone missing in the North East Valley area,” says Fleury.

“I went to dog training in the area that night, so I went and had a look around the area before and after training. I ran into Shona, the owner of Florence, and she said that Florence still hadn’t been found.

“I went home and decided that I’d do some postings on the Dunedin Greyhound Community Facebook page and get a group of people together to help look on Saturday morning if she wasn’t found overnight.”

Fleury estimates around 10 people turned up to search on Saturday morning, and they spent some two hours looking around the area. She returned in the afternoon with one of her own dogs for another look, but didn’t have any luck.

“We had a scheduled greyhound walk the next day (Sunday) for some of our Facebook community members. We decided to cancel that, and get everyone out searching with their greyhounds instead to raise public awareness.

“Around 15 to 20 people turned up on Sunday morning with their dogs. During that search, Florence actually popped up on one of the tracks along the quarry, but then she turned around and trotted away – but at least we knew she was around.”

Meanwhile, Fleury and Cutler – who had never actually met in person – were in close contact.

“I asked May if she knew of any sounds that the dog would associate with to help bring her home, and she suggested a whistle might be familiar to her.”

And Cutler was making plans to head to Dunedin, along with her worker, Erika Matterson – and that’s when Greyhound Racing New Zealand stepped in and paid for their flights.

“As soon as we arrived on Monday, we went to the quarry,” says Cutler.

“It felt like the impossible. A quarry with lots of uphill trails, lots of hiding spots and lots of danger zones, which also led to a park with loads of open space – lots of bush and farm land all around.

“There was a sighting an hour after we got there, so we rushed down, but she was gone by the time we got there. We stalked all day and night and started to lose hope, especially when the weather turned.”

By Tuesday, Florence had still not been found, and the weather forecast was dire for the rest of the week.

“We were about to lose light late Tuesday, and suddenly, there was another sighting,” remembers Cutler.

“We bolted up there and we managed to trap her, along with Kerry Hurst (of Parkavon Kennels) and his apprentice trainer, Liv Hill, who had also come to help.”

On Day 5, Florence was found, and remarkably, she was in excellent condition, all things considered.

“She ate as soon as she got home and settled in with her family again right away,” says Cutler.

“The greyhound community was absolutely amazing. Their determination and strength got us through the days – we knew that everyone was in Florence’s corner.

“Meredith is always amazing with anything greyhounds-related, and once I found out she was organising everything, I was relieved. Without her, we wouldn’t have found her.”

Fleury laughs, “If there’s anything to do with greyhounds going on down here, I’m usually in the middle of it! It was a fantastic collaboration by everyone.”

Both Fleury and Cutler are in agreeance: “When you adopt a greyhound, you adopt a community,” they both say.

Posted on 24 August 2021

< Back