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Mar 8, 2021

Members of the West Virginia Legislature and their staffs let a sleeping dog lie this week and stepped over the retired racing greyhound snoozing on the floor in Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld’s office.

Weld, R-Brooke, adopted Ava the greyhound, which resides with Weld and his wife Alex in Wellsburg. This past week, she made the trip to Charleston with Weld and took up residence in his office at the Capitol.

During her stay, people got to know her, learn about racing greyhounds, and even get some animal-provided stress therapy during a hectic week at the Legislature, Weld said.

“She is here — she’s the belle of the ball,” he said. “We have had more visitors — people just stopping by to see her, the staff and people working in the building.

“The building is quiet. It’s weird. It’s not a normal session. Her being here gives them (staffers) something to keep them company in the office.”

And Ava has been very receptive of the attention, according to Weld. She greets each visitor to the office, and often lays in the doorway between Weld’s office and the entryway so she can take in all the action.

“She loves it,” Weld said. “Ava is the most relaxed, calm, laid-back dog. She is a very, very calm and relaxed dog by her demeanor. There were four people in my office one day this week. When they left they all had to step over her. She doesn’t care.”

Weld takes her for walks and they visit other offices. She also gets stopped by people along the way who want to greet and pet her.

“This has been a good experience for her, and a good experience for the staff having her here,” he said. “Sometimes this can be a stressful place to be. A lot of law schools have a therapy dog in their libraries around finals time.

“Someone can take their five minutes, come down and visit, and maybe de-stress a bit.”

Visitors also get the chance to learn a little about racing greyhounds, and how they look, feel and act, Weld said.

“I don’t think most people have ever been around one before,” he said. “I had not, until I went to the Beech Bottom Kennels in 2019 and that’s where we met her.”

He thinks people were surprised by her demeanor.

“I might be biased, but she is a good-looking dog,” Weld said. “They get to see just how soft their hair is, and how much they like to be petted.”

Ava didn’t get to meet any lobbyists wanting to abolish greyhound racing in West Virginia, as none appear to be in Charleston this session, he said.

Weld said those meeting her, though, can see she is a happy and well-adjusted canine

“If there was any sort of mistreatment of dogs, it certainly doesn’t show with Ava,” Weld said. “She doesn’t shy away from people. She doesn’t meet a stranger and goes up to everybody. “

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