Swifty’s personality leaps onto the page

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CANBERRA publicist Marilyn Chalkley may be busy working on the Canberra International Music Festival and the “Flowers of War” project, but what really keeps her occupied is looking after her rescue greyhound, Swifty.

Adopted last year, Swifty is a former champion whose personality “leapt onto the page” when Chalkley started writing verses about her. The result is a new children’s book, “Swifty the Greyhound: Where Is My Pie?” illustrated by Jane Ostler. Ten per cent of the proceeds go to Greyhound Connections, who organises adoption for rescued and retired greyhounds.

Swifty dressed for a Canberra winter.

The book highlights Swifty’s love of food, fashion and dance, described in doggy doggerel with lines like, “She has a good friend, they both have long snoots/a greyhound called Cash, they are snoots in cahoots”.

“When I adopted Swifty 18 months ago, her personality quickly shone through,” Chalkley says.

“I just had to write about her thieving ways, which started with a bag of cannoli, pies and doughnuts, progressed onto a whole large jar of Vegemite, and my gingerbread.”

Compelled to write about Swifty’s dancing and her love of lying on the sofa, Chalkley asked a British friend, who had illustrated a children’s book about a giraffe, to do the drawings and they worked together online.

During COVID-19, she explains, when everyone was purchasing pets to help them get through lockdown, Greyhound Connections, the Canberra charity which re-homes retired and rescued greyhounds, ran out of the loveable racing canines because demand was so high. This year they’ve re-homed a record 138, but there are more available. Each dog comes with a bed, a collar, a coat and some toys, after being health checked and trained to be a pet by foster carers.

Swifty shows how to eat Vegemite.

Chair of Greyhound Connections, Martina Hughes, says: “Greyhound Connections is a totally voluntary organisation, so we need your help. But we also need more people to adopt greyhounds, many of which are cat friendly and children friendly, and readily adapt to living in apartments.”

Although they’re fast runners, she says they spend most of the time asleep and like a walk every day, but not a marathon.

“They are the gentlest animals imaginable.”

“Swifty the Greyhound: Where Is My Pie?” available for $25 at brogobooks.com. Fundraising events “Pet Photos with Santa”, Animal Welfare Hospital, Fyshwick, 9.30am-2pm, Saturday, November 28, and Greyhound Connections Christmas Bazaar, 26 Ashton Calvert St, Fyshwick, 4pm-6pm, Sunday, November 29.

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