Heart Hounds helping to enrich lives

Heart Hounds is an organisation whose aim is to enrich the lives of many people, ranging from the aged to the disabled, and also includes underprivileged people.

Greyhounds are renowned for their loving, affectionate nature, so it made sense for Canterbury-based Angela Washington, herself an absolute animal lover, to combine those attributes to provide comfort to areas of the community who are at times deprived of tender, loving care.

That led to the formation of Heart Hounds which, from small beginnings, is poised to blossom into a nationwide venture.

“We want to give back to the community and our goal is to create a more united venture throughout New Zealand,” said Washington.

“Taking greyhounds to visit elderly people and children with disabilities has been a longtime desire for me. Working with those within the community with needs is an area I’ve wanted to be involved in for a long time.

“I started taking greyhounds out into the community just before Covid struck. I had to put it on the backburner when the Covid restrictions came in, and I’ve only recently just started up to get it going again,” advised Washington.

She has teamed up with industry participants Erika Matterson and Janine McCook to expand the venture.

“Erika looks after the social media aspects of it all. She does a lot of the planning – Erika is young and full of energy. She absolutely loves greyhounds and she’s always working on multimedia sites. Janine does a lot of the profiles, and works with the personalities on the dogs.”

Washington is keen to see Heart Hounds expand throughout the country.

“There are other people who take greyhounds to rest homes, like up in Cambridge. The ideal scenario is to have coordinated groups nationwide,” she explained, while juggling her time between training horses and greyhounds, plus all of the travelling required to trial and race.

“My Dad has been in a rest home for five years, and when I take a greyhound into his home, it’s very gratifying to see the residents’ faces light up.

“The interaction with dementia patients is so heart-warming. The greyhounds give them that little bit of joy and happiness.

“We believe that greyhounds, with their gentle and loving natures, provide unparalleled therapeutic benefits. Our visits aim to offer not only the warmth of a cuddle, but also to educate communities about the remarkable lives of greyhounds, both as athletes and beloved pets after their racing careers.

“Some of the residents don’t recognise you, but they certainly recognise the dog! For many of them, they had to give up their pets prior to moving into homes, which is heart-breaking for them.

“For example, my Dad would love to have a dog, so I’ve said to him that I can bring one in for him.

“I take Dalisha Bale (2021 NZ Cup winner) in, along with her dress rug and New Zealand Cup. The residents all love her, and they all want to know more details about her. I was also taking in Dyna Vikkers (2015 NZ Cup winner), although he’s starting to get a bit old now.

“Dyna Dave did a number of visits, while Talbingo Bale will shortly be joining the visiting team.

“We want to give back to the communities, and that involves special needs people, plus areas like high-risk students. For example, we have schools with disabled children reaching out to us.”

Like all volunteer initiatives, funding is a crucial element.

“We are going to launch a number of fundraising activities, like making Heart Hounds shirts available.

“I need 48 hours in a day – not just 24 hours! Working, trialling and racing horses, along with the greyhounds, coupled with travelling, means my days are full on.

“We are reliant on getting volunteers to assist us – I’m not going to back down on this,” added Washington.

“Greyhounds have an absolutely fantastic nature and for us to give back with them is so rewarding. We aim to bring joy and comfort to the communities, as we strive to create moments of connections and happiness, while fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for these extraordinary dogs,” stated Washington.

And it is attitudes like that that will see Heart Hounds not only spread positive awareness, but more importantly, passionate, tender, loving care to so many people with needs!

To find out more about Heart Hounds, head to: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61560892497517


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 10 July 2024

< Back