Spirit never Withers in Tommy Shelby’s family


Kira Withers is slightly mystified by the extraordinary worldwide following attracted by her family’s greyhound Tommy Shelby. 

It’s not just because he’s a champion who has won Group 1 races across Australia. 

It can’t quite be explained by their custom of donating 10 per cent of the owners’ prize money to charity after every win. 

And there’s more to it than the fact that he was named after a lead character in the hit TV show Peaky Blinders. 

Whatever the attraction, Kira is glad Tommy has sparked positive responses and interest in greyhound racing. 

“He’s been good for the sport and his winning streak across the country has brought people to the track,” she said. 

“He has taken us on the ride of our lives and he’s very special.” 

For Kira, her husband Steve and their children Jordan, Summah and Mackenzie, Tommy is part of the family – like the pups who run riot in the front room of their home. 

“We live surrounded by dogs,” Kira says. 

“The whole family is included. The girls help out before school, Steve and I do the work through the day and even the family swimming pool is involved. 

“We put in a pool heater just for the dogs. It’s good low-impact exercise to keep the dogs fit and the pups really enjoy it.” 

At last count, the family had 11 dogs in their kennels plus a couple living in the house with 10 pups. 

“The girls like playing with the puppies. They’re at the cute age now,” Kira said. 

“Steve was running a small operation when we first got together and every year we got larger – but now we’ve reached our limit. 

“By keeping it small, we’re able to give all the dogs their own attention. 

“Having one-on-one time with each dog gives us a thorough understanding of their habits and we can form relationships.” 

The success of Tommy Shelby, known as the ‘People’s Dog’, came as a surprise. 

“We bred him and we’ve had him since he was a baby. We thought he’d be special but we couldn’t have dreamt how much,” she said. 

“I get weird messages in the middle of the night from people who want to marry him.” 

It all began with the link to the popular Peaky Blinders TV series, she said, which inspired fans to turn up at the Cannington track dressed in 1920s period gear. 

Then he hit a winning streak.  

With Steve, he travelled across the country to win big races including the Group 1 Australian Cup, Hobart 1000 and Golden Easter Egg, amassing more than $1 million in prize money. 

Kira and Steve, along with fellow owners Michael and Jodie Harders, choose a charity each month and donate 10 per cent of the money. Windfalls have gone to groups such as bushfire volunteers, Beyond Blue and Telethon. 

“We are really fortunate we’ve been given opportunities with him to promote racing and give back to the community,” Kira said. 

“Tommy is completely chilled. The girls have even taken him to events at school to show him off. It’s nice that people are interested.” 

While Tommy moves towards a quieter life of retirement and stud duties, things won’t slow down for the rest of the family. 

“We love the dogs and the competition but it’s very demanding, every day of the week,” Kira said. 

“Everything has to fit in around the dogs, even on Christmas morning.”