AN AMMANFORD woman spent her Christmas helping out at a rehoming centre for former racing dogs.

When Fiona Fair’s beloved greyhound Dolly passed away in 2015, a change in circumstances meant adopting another hound wasn’t feasible.

But, thanks to a conversation with Garnant-based Greyhound Rescue Wales, she was able to put her love of dogs to much-needed use at their Hillcrest centre instead.

“Sandra Wynne (the then-sanctuary manager) advised us to join the Greyhound Rescue Wales Supporters’ Facebook page, which was the best thing we could have done,” said Fiona, who lives in Ammanford with husband Andy.

“It gave us the chance to find out about volunteer opportunities and also to visit Hillcrest, where we met two beautiful greyhounds called Wilson and Sophie.

“I have taken part in several street collections but the main thing for me is the contact with the dogs.

“So many dogs come in very shut down, so it’s wonderful to see the sparkle of life come back, such as when Spider started to want to have contact with humans.

“Just to be able to help the dogs was therapy for me after Dolly passed away, and it’s so good to know it helps them too.”

Fiona, who works at Tesco in Ammanford, comes to Hillcrest every Wednesday afternoon to help walk the dogs.

She also spends invaluable one-to-one time with them, helping them become home-ready for life as a companion dog.

“I spend 15 to 20 minutes with an individual dog, either in his or her kennel or outside,” she said.

“We do loose-lead walks and work on their recall, rewarding good behaviour, and monitor and assess each dog for suitability in a particular home.

“We have a lovely sheltered area we call the barn, which has sofas and chairs and so helps the dogs become used to a home environment, which many have never seen.

“We encourage them to do puzzle-solving games - when you’ve only had one dog, you think all dogs are like yours but it’s amazing to see how differently they all react - some are very focused and determined and others are more frustrated.

“It’s wonderful to get to know their characters and see them develop.”

On Christmas Day, Fiona and Andy, who works for HSBC, spent the day at Hillcrest walking the dogs as usual.

“When you work in retail, it’s just what you need,” Fiona laughed.

“Retail can get stressful, but coming to such a peaceful place and being with the dogs is a little bit of heaven.”

Wales-wide organisation Greyhound Rescue Wales opened its Hillcrest rehoming centre in Garnant in 2013 following a large bequest.

Hillcrest is run by rehoming manager Dave Griffin, as well as a number of part time staff and an invaluable team of volunteers.

GRW founder Alain Thomas said: “We take in ex-racing greyhounds who are usually aged around four or five, as well as younger dogs who are often injured and some older dogs who have had a life after racing but whose owners can no longer keep them.

“We also take in lurchers, greyhound cross breeds. Greyhounds and lurchers make wonderful pets.

“We believe in honesty and full support for our adopters, which is why we have introduced more rigorous assessments that allow us to paint a broader picture of our dogs and determine what they may need in their adoptive homes as they transition from the track to life as companions.

“As well as aiming to permanently rehome the hounds in our care, we also look for fosterers who have the time and space to help our ‘Last Hope’ dogs, who have suffered an injury and need home comforts and very gentle exercise while they recover.

“New Year can be an ideal time to think about adopting or fostering and to research the right dog for your lifestyle, and we welcome anyone wanting to find out more to Hillcrest by appointment.”

If you think you have the right home for a former racing pup or want to find out more about adopting or fostering a Hillcrest hound, contact 0300 0123 999 or