Greyhounds visit retired sisters

By Jaye Alderson | For The Compass | January 30, 2014

Rescued racing dogs are center of attention at Franciscan Courts in Oshkosh

OSHKOSH — Baking dog biscuits has been a ministry of the retired sisters at Franciscan Courts for many years. The peanut butter treats are sold in the gift shop of the retirement home of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother order and at St. Raphael the Archangel Church right across the street. Proceeds from the sales support the Day-by-Day Warming Shelter and Father Carr’s Place 2B.

Shiner, one of three rescued greyhounds that paid a visit Jan. 23 to the Franciscan Courts, a retirement home of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in Oshkosh, is greeted by Sr. Angela Krawiec. (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)
Shiner, one of three rescued greyhounds that paid a visit Jan. 23 to the Franciscan Courts, a retirement home of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in Oshkosh, is greeted by Sr. Angela Krawiec. (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)

For five years, groups of middle school students from St. Raphael have planned an evening visit to help the sisters make some doggie treats and to let the generations interact.

This year’s visit was extra special and provided extra treats. While concocting together about 175 treats for sale, the sisters and the children talked and shared information about each other’s lives. Toward the end of the evening, a special visit brought more meaning to the work they have been doing.

Three retired racing greyhounds owned by Robyn and Larry Phillips, members of St. Raphael Parish, came in to visit. With the scent of peanut butter still in the air and many eager hands ready to pet them, the dogs perked up instantly and were a great hit. Fast, Shiner and Hodge Podge were all gentle, quiet and eager to make friends.

The Phillips have been involved in greyhound rescue since 1992. “When race dogs are done racing, they have no purpose,” Robyn Phillips said. “But ex-racers are wonderful pets with a wonderful disposition. Greyhounds are very human-friendly.”

The couple are members of the Heart Bound Greyhound Adoption Inc. rescue group, which has placed about 150 retired greyhounds in loving homes throughout Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Because the Wisconsin race tracks are now closed, their rescue dogs come mostly from Florida and Alabama, Robyn said.

The Phillips take their own dogs on visits to local nursing homes. They are well-acquainted with the sisters at Franciscan Courts because both Robyn and Larry sing in a choir at St. Raphael that performs for the sisters on major holidays. When Robyn heard about the visit to make doggie treats, she had an offer of her own.

“I have a treat for the kids and sisters,” she told them. “I’ll bring you some dogs to cuddle.”

Fast also brought a life lesson about acceptance and tolerance. The gentle, fawn-colored dog has faced more challenges than many humans. After a life of track racing, she developed cancer and underwent major treatment.

Then, while on vacation in Missouri, she was bitten by a black widow spider. After surviving that trauma, the next summer she was hit by a truck and lost a partner dog as well as a back leg.

She quickly learned how to hop on her remaining back leg and can move as fast as any of the other dogs, Robyn said. “She is as loving as you can get. She is the sweetest soul. She will crawl up on your lap and love the daylights out of you.”

Fast hardly left the side of Ian Leafgren, 12. “The greyhounds were really cute,” Leafgren said. “It was good to see the dogs. I think this was really fun and a good way to spend time with the sisters and to spread cheer and help.”

Grace Kadonsky, 12, said the experience was a good one for her. “I liked how we got to help animals in need,” she says. “It was really cool. And I never really got to talk with a sister before.”

Hana Eaton, 11, said seeing the dogs made the evening even more special. “It was fun to make the treats for dogs,” she said. “The greyhounds were very friendly and very nice, and it was cool to see them.”

 

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