Secret lives of staff: How a love for dogs grew into running a volunteer organisation

Karin and her greyhounds, Jack and Dudley

Meet Karin Ferguson, Storr Liver Centre program operations manager and volunteer greyhound rehomer. Her journey began eight years ago, when she decided she wanted a dog.

“I didn’t want a dog with lots of hair to manage or one needing lots of exercise, so I simply googled ‘dogs for lazy people’, and a page about greyhounds popped up,” Karin said.

“It was confusing because I thought these racing dogs would want to run around all day and I was worried they were aggressive because they wore a muzzle. I was wrong.

“Turned out, greyhounds were gentle, lazy giants. I adopted my first one, Jack. Six months later, I adopted a second one, Dudley.

Karin and her greyhounds Jack and Dudley. Both dogs are wearing their “Greenhound” collars (given to dogs who have successfully completed an approved greyhound re-training program and passed a required assessment to gain a muzzle exemption).

“I love their calm and loving energy. Coming home to a big solid dog (or two) is a great stress relief. ”

Shortly after adopting Dudley and Jack, Karin started volunteering for Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) – a not-for-profit initiative of Greyhound Racing NSW that rehomes retired racers.

Greyhounds are bred for racing. A competing dog usually retires at the age of four. A younger dog can be retired if they are not interested in training and older girls may have had a couple of litters. 

After retirement or if not suited to racing, trainers and owners often give up their greyhounds to rehoming groups to find them new families.

Karin and Jack, volunteering for Greyhounds As Pets

Rehoming groups teach these ex-racing dogs (who have lived their entire lives in kennels) how to be good family companions. 

Every year GAP rehomes about 400 dogs and participates in numerous events, such as the Sydney Royal Easter Show, where it provides information about greyhounds to the general public.

Karin quickly recognised the need for consistent and skilled assistance and started her own volunteer organisation to support GAP activities.

In five years, her organisation has grown to 55 volunteers and was recently handed over to a paid coordinator from GAP to oversee its day-to-day management.

Karin’s organisation, before the pandemic, joined events to educate people about what it was like having a greyhound as a pet. 

Dudley and her pal having a break at one of the events, where they represented Greyhounds As Pets

“Greyhounds are loving, quiet and shy, and they make great family dogs. They are just happy to be near you and always up for an adventure – either it’s a stride around the neighbourhood, or a catch-up with your mates at the café,” Karin said.

“If you are thinking of getting a dog that would love lounging with you on a couch and going for a 25 min walk – a greyhound can be a great companion.

“They are polite with other people and dogs, but might not live well with cats or other small animals, so there are a few things to consider before making a final decision about adopting.

Expectations versus reality: Dudley the racer being a sleeping queen at home

“We encourage people looking for a dog to come and meet them. GAP staff and volunteers will help them to find the best match, depending on their lifestyle and family situation.

“You can also support these amazing dogs by volunteering for GAP or short term fostering a dog.  A great way to try before you buy. If you want to learn more about greyhounds or volunteering, visit the GAP website ( for more information.