We had planned on our first Windsor Meet & Greet being a fairly low-key event - just us, a few helpers and a handful of hounds.
We were only able to obtain one Saturday in the entire year, 3rd August, not ideal given the strength-sapping heat of a couple of weeks earlier. We were lucky with the weather, very lucky.
We were also lucky, due to the kindness of Town Centre Manager, Paul Roach, to be given a prime pitch outside Marks & Spencer in the pedestrianised main shopping street, and permission to have the shelter of a gazebo. This was never going to be a low-key affair. It seemed from the moment we arrived at 9am to set up, to 6.15pm when the last piece of equipment was loaded wearily into the car that we were surrounded by people eager to talk about, admire and touch our Greyhounds as though, in the middle of that busy summer shopping street, the natural tranquillity of those hounds could be theirs, just for a moment.
Babies, children and adults sat amongst the dogs. Elderly folk and those in wheelchairs reached out to have the dogs brought out to meet them and money could be heard, with satisfying regularity, dropping into our increasingly heavy buckets. We even did an interview with a gentleman from Gulf Radio Services, broadcasting for ex-pats throughout The Gulf, who had been instructed by his partner to, “Get down here quickly, there are Greyhounds in the High Street.”
It was one of those days when your spirit soars and faith in human nature is restored. People were kind and generous and genuinely interested and although we knew we had done well, even we weren’t prepared for the amazing £1,200 dropped into our buckets that day.
So…huge thanks to Ian and Cathy who were there when we arrived and still there at the end of the day with the irrepressible Keeley and gentle, patient Basil; Liz who was also there most of the day with Cocoa, once again wooing the crowds, Tucker, who lived up to his name where food is concerned and quiet Milo, who gets more confident with each Meet & Greet; Debbie Watton, who looked after my quiet girl, Nicky, and fielded questions whilst we were getting organised; Jillian, who came a long way to stand most of the day with bucket in hand; Nikki, who once again gave up her valuable time to join us with seasoned campaigner Pearl; Debbie Rowley with gorgeous, red fawn boy Buzz, and patient confident Adam; and Carole and family with lovely brindle Dee Dee. To John for printing up stickers for the children and foreign language flyers for Windsor’s many tourists.
We knew these were successful when a group of Italians read the text and back-tracked to put quite a generous donation into our buckets. Finally a mention to Carol at the kennels who recruited some last minute helpers and to my own lovely, good-natured Arnie who, when he was adopted at 12 years old probably didn’t imagine this was how his retirement would pan out. Any more of this and he’ll be seeking sanctuary in ‘The Sanctuary’ again! Thank You All. It truly was The Longest Day.
As a footnote: If anyone is thinking of doing a Meet & Greet in their local area, it is less daunting than you think. Council forms can look quite scary but they do have to cover all eventualities.
Please, give it a go. Someone, somewhere in a Town Centre near you is just waiting to make friends with a Greyhound.