By Erika Steele, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Locals may already be familiar with Greyhound Friends, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving racetrack greyhounds and placing them in responsible, loving homes.?Behind the curtain are a group of volunteers who have guided the organization to success over the past 30 years, each one as impassioned as the next to save these innocent animals.
Marlborough resident Ann Marie Rakovic is one of those caring individuals. She has been volunteering at Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton since 2007, a decision she made after losing her two cats to old age. The grieving Rakovic walked and transported dogs, did laundry, and washed dishes – anything necessary to maintain a proper home for the mistreated pups while getting a little animal therapy herself.
“After a month of volunteering, I became enchanted with the breed,” said Rakovic. “I was not a dog owner until I adopted my first greyhound, Missile, a 5-year-old confident and loving greyhound.”
Just recently, Rakovic was elected as a board member, a formal appointment for someone who never cared about recognition.
Though she works at a public health research and consulting firm, JSI Research and Training Institute, Rakovic does not mind spending her free time volunteering at the nonprofit.
“Greyhound Friends is a wonderful cause and I’m hooked on the Greyhound breed and committed to rescuing all animals in need,” Rakovic said. “My volunteerism, like that of so many others, is a small, yet fulfilling, way to help the pups who through no fault of their own have no home.”
Her role on the board includes sending out social networking emails and coordinating meet-and-greet events at pet stores throughout the state; however, she does not stop there. Her 4-year-old greyhound, Ozzie, recently passed his therapy dog test through the Pets and People Foundation. The perfect height to be pet by a person in a wheelchair or hospital bed, Ozzie will volunteer with Rakovic and make visits to seniors at a local nursing home in Marlborough.
“I am really looking forward to sharing the love that Ozzie gives me with seniors who don's have the opportunity to go for walks in the park anymore,” shared Rakovic, who describes Ozzie's approach to life as being content about everything. “They don's have to reach far to touch him and feel the love, to enjoy the sweet companionship that dogs and especially greyhounds bring.”
Even with added tasks from the board, Rakovic relishes every opportunity to create buzz about the goodwill program that she credits for changing her life.
“I am definitely an animal lover and an advocate for animal justice as much as I can be,” she said. “Dogs have a way of making a person feel whole again. They have so much to offer and give their love freely for a warm bed, belly rubs, and some kibble.”