Dogs like Pepper bring flavour to Linda’s life

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Ask greyhound trainer Linda Britton about the standout animals in her life and she doesn’t mention her greatest champion but one with a big personality who loved attention.

The renowned trainer’s most famous greyhound is Paradise Street, who won the Group 2 National Distance Championship at Cannington in 1998 and remained WA’s only winner in the race for the next 14 years.

Linda has trained close to 5000 winners and yet the dog she speaks of most fondly is the lesser-known West On Bluebird.

“At home, we called her Pepper and she would push other dogs out of the way to get attention or bark constantly if she wanted something,” Linda said.

“Everything she wants, she gets.

“She has some quirks but she’s very loveable and her pups have been really good.”

When the time came to retire Pepper, she was twice returned to Linda because she was too demanding for her new owners.

“Now she lives on a houseboat with her new owner Gwen and they go everywhere together. I still pay for her food and vet care and it’s a pleasure to see her in a happy home,” Linda said.

“She deserves it.”

After growing up in Victoria with an array of creatures great and small, Linda has become one of Western Australia’s most successful greyhound identities.

“My dad was the local milkman, with a horse and cart. At home we had cats, dogs, ponies and carthorses,” she said.

“When I was nine, my dad got his first greyhound and I used to help him with the dogs.”

Linda visited WA for a holiday about 40 years ago and loved it so much she moved here.

“I had a few retail jobs before I got my first greyhound and dogs became my life,” she said.

“The days are long and hard. There are lean spells where things aren’t going well and you have to ride it through until things change. There’s always something good around the corner.”

Among the benefits, she says, are the friendships she and partner Chris Halse have forged with people in the greyhound community.

“Dogs are the best and when you win, you win with friends,” she said.

“I think a lot of people look after their dogs better than themselves. It disappoints me that greyhound racing is misunderstood.

“When people see my operation and how happy the dogs are, they change their minds.

“Our dogs are let out into yards six to eight times a day but they also love time in their own space, like all dogs love their bed. They let you know when they want to go back inside and have a sleep.”

Linda, who joined the WA Racing Industry Hall of Fame in 2012, is now 64 and imagines taking time off – although retirement seems unlikely.

“Most greyhound trainers never retire. They love the dogs and it’s their lifestyle.”