Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tradgedy at the Track

I have written about many things in the greyhound business - both good and bad. There was one particular day at the track that something happenned that was far worse than anything I ever saw in 13 years of racing. Unfortunately you get used to the broken legs and pulled muscles and the myriad other injuries that can end a greyhounds life and or career. You take care of them to the best of your ability and move on.

When you see a "wreck" in the first turn or watch a dog go careening across the track your stomach turns. One of your babies could be finished. Even worse is to listen to some buffoon in the crowd chortle with glee when it happens because "it is funny". You tell yourself they don't know any better and you go to tend to your dog.

One beautiful summer day I was watching a race. I didn't have a dog in it. The rabbit was about 30 yards from the finish line when there was a power failure. The power was off for just a second before the emergency generator kicked in. That one second was all it took to slow the rabbit down enough for the three dogs in the lead to catch it. The lure operator tried to speed it back up but there was nothing he could do. The greyhounds were running full speed to "get the bunny" and nothing else was on their minds.

I watched as the dogs slammed into the lure and one of them actually got caught on it and went spinning around it over and over. (the lure was probably going around 40 miles an hour or so) He was flung across the track where he landed limply on the ground. I watched my friend, Bobby, wail as he flew over the fence to the track to try to help his dog. There was no help for it. The other 2 dogs were flopping around like I had never seen before as the rest of the field ran over them. Miraculously none of the other 5 dogs were hurt.

We knew it was bad and we all ran to get the dogs because we knew the leadouts were not capable of handling this kind of problem. Even the track vet ran out which hardly ever happenned. They carried the dogs to the vet's office and immediately put one down. The other was rushed to the animal hospital. It survived but it never raced again.

My friend, Bobby, was inconsolable, just as I would have been. He had started racing a few months after I did and we kind of looked out for each other. That accident was so bad that they did not show the race replay. I never saw that happen either before or since.

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