They’re reuniting, and it will feel so good… even if it looks a bit different. The annual Walk and Chili Cook-Off, held to raise funds for Fast Friends Greyhound Adoption Center, has been reimagined this year, due to pandemic-related restrictions.

Fast Friends instead will hold a Greyhound Reunion and Fundraising Walk at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole this Sunday, Sept. 13 at noon. The event is the organization’s first major in-person event since the start of the pandemic and will raise much-needed funds for the dog adoption mission.

Sunday’s event will be a scaled-down version of Fast Friends’ of the annual from years past — the chili cook-off has been cancelled due to food-sampling restrictions in place meant to help prevent the spread of the virus. But with food vendors at Alyson’s Orchard, as well as the Farm Stand, apple picking and more activities, attendees will still have plenty of options for a fun afternoon outdoors for the whole family, including the four-legged members.

Dogs of all breeds are invited to Alyson’s for this afternoon that’s dedicated to celebrating dog adoption. The Fundraising Walk follows a gentle one-mile course around the pond and through the orchard. With expansive views for the humans and lots of fascinating smells for the dogs, the Walk is really a stroll with frequent opportunities to make new friends, both canine and human.

Registration for the Walk is $20 per person (no additional cost for dogs) and all the money raised will go directly the care of the many dogs currently at Fast Friends as well as the costs associated with getting them ready for adoption. In addition to transportation costs and veterinary checks, each dog receives a spay or neuter surgery and dental cleaning before going home. While waiting for adoption, they get three walks a day, one-on-one playtime with staff, and other enrichment activities including car rides and puzzle toys.

The heart of Fast Friends is the adoption of retired racing Greyhounds into loving families. In recent years, Fast Friends has also forged partnerships with rescue groups overseas who are saving dogs from truly desperate situations. Before international travel stopped due to the pandemic, Fast Friends was routinely bringing in abandoned hunting dogs from Spain, street dogs from Oman, and meat trade dogs from China as well as retired racing Greyhounds from Irish and English tracks.

Most of Fast Friends’ greyhounds come from Florida, where racing is scheduled to end in December. A key goal of this reunion and Walk event is to be ready for a large influx of southern Greyhounds over the next few months.

Fast Friends is also ready to resume bringing home rescued dogs from their overseas partners as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. These groups are overwhelmed trying to find temporary placements for the dogs reserved to travel while still continuing to rescue those that are abandoned and abused. Fast Friends expects that when international travel does begin again, they will immediately organize several transports of dogs. They have been holding yard sales and fundraising online to raise money for these transportation costs and the extensive veterinary checks each dog receives. The most recent online campaign was an auction run with two partner groups.

The Reunion and Walk also has a virtual component. The day at Alyson’s is the kickoff to Fast Friends’ fall fundraising campaign: the Virtual Walk. This will allow anyone who is not comfortable attending a live event to still be part of finding homes for retired racing greyhounds and other dogs in need.

A record-breaking number of people have submitted adoption applications to Fast Friends this year, especially during the months that New Hampshire was under stay-at-home orders. Fast Friends has remained open, although with extra safety precautions, to place as many dogs as possible with families in New Hampshire and the surrounding states.

Anyone planning to attend the Greyhound Reunion and Fundraising Walk at Alyson’s Orchard on Sunday is asked to wear a mask or cloth face covering and remember social distancing guidelines, even while outside.

To donate to support the retired racing greyhounds and other adoptable dogs at Fast Friends helpinggreyhounds.org/donate or call (603) 355-1556.

Fast Friends Greyhound Adoption Center in Swanzey has been placing retired racing greyhounds and other sighthounds into loving, responsible homes since 1992. They run an all-breed doggy daycare and boarding facility with an on-site grooming salon to support the adoption program and the care of the many greyhounds and other sighthounds waiting at the adoption center for their forever families.