How did Daybreaks begin?
I was not a dog lover! I had not been a dog owner before, and had not been brought up with dogs. I was therefore rather apprehensive about having a dog in the house – besides - what were they except hairy, smelly, jumpy, licky things?!
My husband Rob however had been brought up with a dog and he was desperate to have a canine companion again. We therefore used to venture out to rescue centres each weekend looking round where I would look for the ‘perfect dog’.
In January 2001 we went to Birmingham Dogs Home. In one of the kennels was a beautiful fawn greyhound that just stood there, not moving, looking so sad. She was not barking, jumping or licking – she appealed to me. She had been brought in as a stray. We asked to see her and she did not set off an automatic allergic reaction I have to most dogs.
We adopted Tara. She was ‘perfect’ from day one.
I knew nothing about greyhounds… we then found that the letters in her ears meant something – she was Irish - we found her racing name - Daybreaks Beauty and date of birth – 3rd June 1997 and her birthday fell on our wedding anniversary!
Through having Tara we started meeting other dog owners, in particular greyhound owners. This is how I met Pam who advised me on a few aspects of greyhound ownership and invited us to organised greyhound events – our circle of friends was getting bigger!
Within a few months, I was nagging for a companion for Tara! I felt she might be lonely and by this time I was addicted to greyhounds.
We adopted Holly 6 months later – a small black greyhound. Boy was she different from Tara! She was a very keen greyhound who needed a muzzle but with our time and patience she transformed to a very gentle girl who could be trusted off the lead with Tara. They both registered as Pets as Therapy dogs and our social activities started mounting! By 2003 our greyhound family was up to 5 ! I even changed my job for the love of animals and became the Practice Manager for a veterinary practice for a few years.
The more involved we became with greyhound activities, the more we started to hear of the tragic endings that some greyhounds suffer. I needed to do more.
In 2003 we were asked to help with the set up of a new trust at Perry Barr Stadium. A group of us got together and I started a newsletter and sponsor schemes. Weekends and evenings were all taken up either helping at the kennels where the dogs were kept, at awareness roadshows, doing talks or supporting other greyhound charities such as GRWE, Greyhound Gap and GIN.
In 2005 the kennels holding the trust dogs decided they couldn’t take Perry Barr dogs anymore so suddenly we had no re-homing centre. A trainer in Worcester helped us for a while and we rented a few kennels at a local boarding kennels in Solihull. Our homing figures dropped dramatically and everyone in the Trust were becoming despondent. We knew this couldn’t continue, as dogs were being PTS.
I was at this time back working as a medical secretary and becoming increasing frustrated as to how I could help more and took the plunge on 1st July 2006 and started running kennels. Not being able to lose Rob’s salary, he had to continue his full time job but helps me at the kennels after work everyday and all weekend. It is a 24/7 commitment. One day we hope to run Daybreaks together.
Our lives have changed amazingly since we had Tara in January 2001 and we are glad our lives are dedicated to helping more greyhounds just like her. We sadly lost Tara to bone cancer on 27th May 2007.
She changed our lives and we hope that the greys we home change someone else’s life. This is why Daybreaks started.
The Trust is becoming successful but this is not just because of Daybreaks – it is the dedication and help of all the volunteers in all different ways. We could not do this without them!
Rob and Ruth with Shrew, Basil, Max and Tara