A schoolgirl who grew up living with Cynophobia has successfully overcome her fear of dogs after her family decided to adopt a retired racing greyhound for the first time.
Eight-year-old Ella-Mae Bryce avoided all forms of contact with dogs for years following two bad experiences as a toddler at a children’s park with her parents who are both lifetime dog owners.
But a chance encounter by Ella-Mae’s father Brendan with Towcester-based professional greyhound trainer Frank Gray at MakeIt Kennels helped the Hartwell family find the dog of their dreams.
They adopted Beans – aka MakeIt Cold Beans – a three-year-old black bitch recently retired from the sport after a highly successful career.
Brendan said Beans’ loving and placid character provided the perfect answer in helping Ella-Mae overcome her lifetime fear.
“We’d have to cross the road if any breed of dog was approaching us – she was simply petrified,” said Brendan. “My wife and I had talked about getting a dog again to help overcome her fear, but we had never considered a greyhound.
“I deliver gas for a living, and had a drop off at Frank’s kennels where I asked more about rehoming retired greyhounds. From there we visited MakeIt Kennels a few times and then introduced Ella-Mae to Beans which was a big moment.
“She was so calm and gentle, we really could not have asked for a better dog to help our daughter overcome her fear. Beans is the first greyhound we’ve owned, and Frank and his team were fantastic helping us find the right dog.”
During her 13-month racing career, Beans raced 35 times, won six races and competed at Open Race level – the highest grade of competition in UK greyhound racing.
Her career was abruptly ended in August when she fell in a freak accident during a trial at Oxford Stadium where she broke her central metatarsal. An operation to fix the injury was carried out the following day and she has since completed a full rehabilitation programme.
With the sport now recording a 94.4% rehoming rate, Brendan is now encouraging other prospective dog owners to consider adopting a former racer.
“She’s settled into retirement really well,” said Brendan. “She has a scar on her right back leg from the fall but she’s as good as gold and is in a fantastic new routine.
“People see greyhounds racing at extraordinary speeds on TV and assume they need lots of exercise. The reality is they’re the total opposite and unlike other working breeds such as spaniels, huskies and Labradors.
“Beans is the sloth of the dog world and will sleep at least 18 hours a day. She’s fantastic with other dogs and children too which is testament to Frank and his team. Her racing career might’ve been cut short, but she’s still living the dream and we’re so pleased to have found her.”
Trainer Frank Gray added: “Beans made an excellent recovery from her injury to the point where she was fit to race again after completing her rehab.
“But when Brendan told me about his daughter Ella-Mae we knew Beans was the perfect dog for them. We carried out some routine checks and welcomed the family to meet Beans at our kennels.
“Immediately we decided to retire her. Beans has been a fantastic greyhound for us – a kennel favourite. It’s sad to let her go but we’re so pleased she’s enjoying her new life in retirement, and we hope to see her back very soon!”
Further information about the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s Greyhound Retirement Scheme and how to adopt a retired greyhound yourself is available via Greyhound Retirement Scheme | Greyhound Board of Great Britain (gbgb.org.uk).