Greyhound Fern grows in new companion role at Gundagai

COMPANION ANIMAL: Gundagai's Joyce Langfield enjoys a visit from Fern. Fern has been adopted by Kimberley Fairall (left) and her family pet, Riley. Photos: SUPPLIED.
COMPANION ANIMAL: Gundagai's Joyce Langfield enjoys a visit from Fern. Fern has been adopted by Kimberley Fairall (left) and her family pet, Riley. Photos: SUPPLIED.

It's not exactly the famous Tuckerbox, but for Kimberley Fairall's greyhound Fern, the nursing home bed of Joyce Langfield in Gundagai, is a far more comfortable place to sit.

Kimberley works as a nurse at the Gundagai Multipurpose Service (MPS), a 30-bed facility with 12 hospital care beds and 18 residential aged care beds, and before COVID-19 struck, she would regularly take Fern to visit the residents.

"They have a strict visitors' policy now, but I used to take Fern up after my shift and spend an hour or so visiting," Kimberley said.

"One lady in particular, Joyce, loved her. When I first got Fern I would take her up there while I was at work but she would get stressed out, but then she just started laying there on Joyce's bed, and they both loved that. It was beautiful for both of them."

Because of her shift-working circumstances, and location, Kimberley found it difficult to find a greyhound to adopt, until she stumbled across the Greyhound As Pets Southern NSW program.

"I'd wanted a greyhound for five or six years but had been living with my parents and on a property and it wasn't very suitable," she explained.

"I then bought my own house, but when I would go away my parents would have the other dog, Riley, a kelpie, and my dad was like: "no you're not getting a greyhound as well."

"I got engaged, was going to get married but we split up, and I went through a rough time, and that's when dad said: "OK you can get a greyhound."

"But I tried multiple places to get a dog and nobody would let me have one because of my circumstances. I had given up on getting one, then at about two o'clock one morning I was scrolling through Facebook - as you do - and saw a post come up about GAP (Greyhounds As Pets). I applied straight away, and Nat Winter from GAP's regional program called and it all just happened, and I would never go back to another breed now."

But it wasn't exactly a smooth transition.

"No, it did not go well, in fact I was sure Nat wasn't going to let me keep her. Riley likes his space. If there's other dogs, he's not keen to play and if he's nervous he shows a bit of aggression," Kimberley said.

On the trip from Gundagai to Goulburn, Kimberley's mother told Riley that if he wanted to remain a single dog, he knew what to do.

"We got there and I was as nervous as anything, and Riley charged at her, not attacking her, just went to grab her. I thought well that's it, we're done.

"But Nat took them for a walk, did all the behavioral stuff she does, and then let us take Fern home, and they have just got on since. They are great friends now."

Every two weeks Kimberley puts in a request to have the Saturday off work so she can load Fern in the car and head to Goulburn where they have fortnightly greyhound walks.

"It's great for Fern, because while we go for walks around town here, there's no other greyhounds in Gundagai. When they all get together in Goulburn they all just love it and Fern has a great time."

This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.

This story Fern grows in new companion role first appeared on Newcastle Herald.