Scottish Greyhound Gathering

by Hannah Baron // August 2017

Scottish Greyhound Gathering

As I cycle through the abandoned railways towards Leith the only other people I encounter are people out enjoying the peaceful early morning with their dogs. It may be 7am on a Saturday, but I couldn’t be happier. I’m on my way to volunteer on the Dog School stand at its latest festival, and I know the day is going to go on as it’s just started – surrounded by dog lovers.

‘The Greyhound Trust Scottish Greyhound Gathering’ is rather a mouthful, but once Coach Caroline and I arrive at Musselburgh Racecourse it becomes obvious that everyone here shares a very simple aim – to promote the care and welfare of dogs, all dogs; from the gentle giant rescue greyhounds to the tiny Podengos, Shelties and crossbreeds that are beginning to arrive. We soon have our brilliant yellow gazebo set up and we are ready for action. We have brought our body language quiz; a board with photographs of dogs displaying different body language and members of the public are invited to sort the dogs into three categories: “Do not approach me”, “I am anxious, give me space”, “I am happy and relaxed”.

Dog School is attending the event so that we can let people know about the classes we run to help owners raise happy, confident and polite dogs that enjoy living in our world. Lots of people here already appreciate the work Dogs Trust does, and know the local rehoming centre at West Calder, but Dog School is quite a recent development. We run classes for all dogs, with a reduced price for rescues, a festival like this is a great place to get the word out. We explain our aims and our focus on positive training and small classes. Our aim is to help people learn how to avoid common problem behaviours, and so reduce the number of dogs that are given up for rehoming. As one passer-by appreciatively puts it, we’re ‘nipping things in the bud’; getting to the root of problems that can escalate to people giving their dogs up.

We want to give dogs and their owners the tools to cope with life together, and we meet quite a few people who are as keen to learn as we are to teach! We also meet quite a few interested dogs; attracted to the home-made snuffle mats full of hidden treats we’ve laid out in front of the gazebo. This gives us a great chance to talk to their owners too and we hope to see some of them soon in our classes. Of course the greyhounds, also known as “the fastest couch potatoes” were attracted to the snuffle mats for other reasons!

We also had the chance to see what’s going on at the rest of the event and Dog School coach Caroline gets to see her own dogs win a few rosettes with their dad in the ‘just for fun’ dog games going on in the ring behind us.

We even manage to recruit a new volunteer for our classes after I get overexcited exclaiming about how many things I’ve learned and how rewarding it all is. Dog School is always keen to recruit volunteers; if you are interested, why not get in touch at the address below.  Eventually, it’s time for us to pack up, but not before ice creams all round, which we’re sure we deserve, even though the day’s been nothing but fun from start to finish. We’re ready to do it all again.

If you want in on the doggy hijinks next time, you can join us on the 20thAugust at the West Calder Fun day at West Lothian College – we guarantee there’ll be something to learn, eat, play, win and buy for everyone, and it’s a great day out for your dog too if they are calm and confident. If not, why not get in touch at edinburghdogschool@dogstrust.org.uk for some help!