Greyhounds/Meet and Greets
This article is about how to participate in a greyhound meet and greet, specifically for Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare.
Please note that I am only a volunteer at Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare and do not speak for them. This article is just some notes that I would expect a new meet and greet volunteer to find useful. At all times, instructions from WGW staff and the event organiser would take precedence over anything I have to say.
- 1 What's a meet and greet?
- 2 Why?
- 3 Types of events
- 4 We need you (and your hounds)!
- 5 Requirements
- 6 Where and when events take place
- 7 Volunteering at an event
- 8 Useful links
What's a meet and greet?
Throughout the year volunteers for Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare bring their own greyhounds and sometimes kennel hounds also to public places and events where permission has been granted to collect donations. Depending on the event we may also have a gazebo to shelter under and a stall to sell greyhound-related merchandise.
- Collect donations for WGW.
- Show the general public how great greyhounds are as pets and correct common misconceptions about the breed.
- Recruit more volunteer walkers.
But also because it's a very enjoyable way for a greyhound lover like yourself to spend a day!
Types of events
- Street collections
- At many towns in Surrey and borders, e.g. Addlestone, Ashford, Egham, Epsom, Guildford, Staines, Weybridge, Wimbledon, Windsor where the council approves us to collect for one day.
- Typically without gazebo.
- Collections in shops
- As above but typically in supermarket car parks or foyers.
- Summer fairs / fetes
- e.g. Richmond May Fayre, Ashford on the Map, St. Margaret's Summer Fair.
- More likely to be a gazebo and stall.
- Wimbledon tennis ticket queue
- Multiple days, big event with gazebo.
Apart from the Wimbledon tennis ticket queue which is every day for up to 3 weeks, most events are on a Saturday.
We need you (and your hounds)!
It's much easier to collect donations and spread the word if we have well-behaved greyhounds with us. When the last hound needs to go home is also the time we go home. So, we're always looking for volunteers. If you think you would like to volunteer then please read on…
The public high streets and all of these events can be very busy, with the added distractions of other breeds of dog and uncontrolled children. It's therefore absolutely essential that you're fully in control of your greyhound and know that they are happy to be around people, children and other dogs. As when you're anywhere else in public, you are responsible for the behaviour of your dog.
Where and when events take place
Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare has an events page that lists all of these kinds of events, and the contact details of the person or persons who are organising the specific event. It's updated a few months in advance, but as like most things it's run by volunteers and sometimes things do fall through the cracks. I'd therefore also recommend that if you are a Facebook user you join the WGW Facebook group, as notices about forthcoming events are also posted there, and it is a useful place to ask questions.
Volunteering at an event
Before the event
Let the organiser know you're coming
The organiser should be listed on the events page along with a contact email or phone number. If you see them on Facebook then just letting them know there should be enough. They'll just want to know how many hounds you're bringing and what length of time you can be there.
Most events tend to be from 10am to 5pm sort of things (Wimbledon queue more like 7am to 3pm). If you can stay that whole time then that's great but even if you can only spare an hour or two then that's also very welcome. If you can't stay the whole day then the organiser will let you know what time is best, so we can attempt to do "shifts" of hounds to cover more of the day.
Even if you think you will be able to stay all day, that still may not happen. For example if it is a very hot day then no hound will last more than a couple of hours even inside a gazebo shade. Or if it is terrible weather without gazebo then we'll call it a day early on. It's not a problem for you to leave at any time you or your hound needs to.
On the day
Essential things to bring
- A blanket for your hound to lay on.
- Poo bags.
- Appropriate clothing for your hound. They'll be staying still, not walking, so will need to be kept warmer than when on a walk.
- Appropriate clothing for yourself, sun protection etc.
Useful things to bring if able
- Water bowls. The organiser will usually bring a couple of these and a water supply as well, but more doesn't hurt if you are able.
- Treats for your dog and others.
Find the main group
The organiser will have told you where to meet. Once you arrive please do say if this is your first meet and greet.
You'll be given:
- A sash for yourself to wear.
- If it's a street collection then your sash will also have a sticker with the details of the day's permit.
- A racing coat for your hound which has WGW's details on it.
- A sealed collection bucket.
You'll most likely be given some A5 leaflets that go into detail about WGW, including contact details for the kennels etc. There may also be other give away items for children like stickers or fridge magnets.
From this point on you'll find that the general public will normally come up to you unbidden! If they seem interested in the idea of rehoming or becoming a volunteer walker then it is a good idea to offer them one of the leaflets, as these have all the contact details.
- Keep a close eye on the collection buckets.
- Clean up after any little accidents your hound may have.
- Pay special attention to what children are doing.
- They sometimes lack the common sense to not go stomping through a collection of snoozing hounds, paws can be trodden upon, children can be a bit too rough.
- Comply with any reasonable request made by the council, shop owners and so on.
- If they ask you to move away from their shop for example, even if that seems unfair it is best to comply.
- Suggest that a member of the public come over if they seem to be hovering nearby.
- Many people quite rightly do not assume that dogs are safe to approach, so if someone appears interested but isn't approaching then a simple "do feel free to say hello; they are all very friendly" comment can be useful.
- Follow the lead of another volunteer when unsure, and pass questions you don't know the answer to onto others.
- Block pavements, alleyways or shop frontages.
- It's very important that we do not inconvenience the general public or shop owners or we may not be given permission to collect in future.
- Get in the public's way or shake your bucket at them.
- There is no need to be confrontational; some people just don't like dogs! The hounds themselves are enough of a draw for people who already love dogs.
- Get into arguments about the ethics of greyhound racing.
- We all have our opinions on this topic but WGW focuses on the best outcomes for hounds that have already retired.
Typical questions the general public ask
Here's some of the questions you can expect to be asked.
I won't list answers because often opinions differ and it's best to answer in your own words. If you don't know the answers, listen in to what other volunteers say when asked, and do remember that you can always pass a question on to another volunteer.
- What are you collecting for?
- What's your dog's name?
- How old is your dog?
- Are these all retired racers?
- Do they still race now?
- How many races did they win?
- Can I buy one of these dogs now? How much?
- Are your dogs dead? / What's wrong with your dogs? / Why are they all asleep?
- How many dogs does WGW have in its kennels?
- How old are they when they retire from racing?
- Where does WGW get them from?
- What age do they live to?
- How much exercise do they need?
- Will I ever be able to let them off the lead?
- How long can they be left alone at home?
- Can I home one even though I live in a flat / have other dogs / have cats?
- Are they okay with children?
- A Facebook page about WGW from which WGW staff often post news items.
- The group is open to postings from all members and has just a few simple rules. It is therefore a good place to ask questions and chat with everyone else associated with WGW whether they are staff or not. Photos from events and news about rehomed dogs are often posted here too. It would be a good idea to be a member of this group if you're on Facebook. To be honest this group is probably the most up to date information source regarding events.