Local greyhounds gather on masse to welcome Hairy Maclary and friends to Tauranga's Waterfront

There were amazing scenes, fun and unbridled joy on the faces of young and old last month over two consecutive weekends in Tauranga along the waterfront as the bronze Hairy Maclary statues were unveiled to the public.

BOP / Waikato greyhounds were out in force to join in the festivities and welcome the bronze boys to town. Local Bay of Plenty GAP correspondent and hound spokes canine 'Jake' filed this dispatch.

Paws and key boards, pads and key pads don't mix too well and normally I'd have scratched this message on a bone and buried it. But you certainly aren't getting one of my bones so here goes.

Bitzer and the Boys Blown Away by BOP / Waikato GAP's Welcome

The 'locally' adopted greyhounds as pets like me wanted to greet Hairy Maclary, Bitzer Maloney and his friends on their first Saturday on the Tauranga waterfront at a family fun and dog day held to celebrate their arrival. Author, Lynley Dodd lives in Tauranga and wrote all her books about Hairy Maclary and his friends here so this is their home too.

We were in our GAP gazebo as part of the celebrations but we simply couldn't get to meet them on the day. It was just too busy on our mats lapping up the attention from all the lovely kids and adults. Everyone just couldn't believe that we were so gentle, chilled out, lazy, quiet, placid and cruisey despite the chaos around us.

With all that fussing, free food around and lots of other new dog friends to meet it was just too difficult to get away from the gazebo to see the new bronze boys and grab a 'paw'tograph or two.

I managed a sneak peek on my way home later though. I sniffed and sniffed but the Hairy Maclary clan weren't doing much; slightly statuesque and didn't seem to want to play except a long game of 'freeze'. But they certainly looked like they needed reinforcements to do something about that annoyingly pesky cat Scarface Claw on top of his pole. The toughest tom in town my nose! Who does he think he is making a sound that echoed around with a din so awful that uphill and down you could hear the CACAPHONY all over town? Honestly give a cat a pole and they get delusions of grandeur€¦

Bitzer Maloney is a greyhound just like us and people asked if I was a model for the statue, or were shocked when "the statue moved!€ Bitzer seemed a bit too skinny and bony and looked like he might like to go over to the new Wharf Street Dining Precinct or along the strand for a good feed.

So the next Sunday morning my GAP friends, owners and I went back on our monthly local GAP walk for a special inner city stroll to officially welcome the bronze boys to town.

Yes it was a case of:

Out of the car and off for a walk, went the friendly greyhounds from Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

With tails in the air, they strolled on down past the shops and the park to the far end of the strand. Sniffing the smells and snooping at each door.

With a scatter of paws and clatter of claws€¦ Along Tauranga's waterfront to where Hairy Maclary and friends they saw.

All the children and adults enjoyed meeting us hounds as much as seeing the statues. We real life Bitzer Maloney's made quite an impression, surprising many people along the way. They simply couldn't believe they were seeing a group of greyhounds in town and thought Trackside TV had come to life that Sunday morning. In fact it was Trackside TV characters meeting story book characters.

Many early morning drivers, shoppers and café goers rubbed their eyes and stared in amazement and disbelief as we casually walked through central Tauranga.

Our competitive nature came to the fore of course and we couldn't resist a Top Gear like challenge along the way. Yes you can take the greyhounds out of the track, but you can't take the track out of the greyhounds. The resulting Tauranga Sunday Strand Sweepstakes came a bit too close to call with a four way drag between Gibson, Jake, Achilles and Bella.

A five way tie soon developed when Zeva put in a nicely timed burst. I think I may've won by a 'huff' though (those who know me will know what I mean)! Bella called for a photo finish - as she doesn't like to come second, while Sonic proved a stayer as the front runners slowed near the fresh fish market.

We just loved all the attention from all the children and adults there, soaked up loads of pats, cuddles and posed for lots of photos. It was also a wonderful opportunity for people to meet some real life greyhounds, see how good we are as pets and discover what it's like to own a real Bitzer Maloney.

We told everyone to visit www.greyhoundsaspets.org.nz or to follow us on Facebook (you have to follow us because you certainly can't beat us).

Adoration overload, a job well done team, and as the book says€¦ Straight back home to bed!

Now where's my couch!

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