Friday, September 18, 2009

The Bitter End (part 5)

Wayne was partying like a rockstar and I was doing all the work. I didn't have the experience to do the work though and the kennel had stopped running. The more it didn't run the more depressed he became and the less he would show up. When he did show up he did nothing but complain and we smoked a lot of dope. The work was getting done because I was doing it (kennel maintenance) but I didn't have the skill yet to get any run out of the dogs.

His girlfriend left him. Then Al sold the kennel. I still feel to this day that Al didn't actually sell the kennel, I think he had someone fronting for him because he gambled too much and owed thousands of dollars around the track. The couple who bought the kennel were out of Alabama and I had met them many times because they were Al's friends. They were good sturdy people but one of the first things they did was to tell me I had to take a pay cut or they had to let me go.

There went the good old days of me being the highest paid help in he compound. The only reason I was the highest paid help was because Al liked to go around bragging, "I have the highest paid help in the compound." I was putting in an astronomical amount of hours (70 or 80 weekly) which is why I was salaried instead of hourly. I stayed because it was my first kennel and I couldn't bear to leave my babies. I had yet to discover the art of kennel hopping: an art which I perfected later on.

They kept Wayne at first. They were more hands on than Al though and they quickly saw why the dogs weren't running. He wasn't doing the work. So they fired him. The new trainer brought his own help with him and I was downsized and I eventually left for another kennel.

Wayne got another job in a bottom kennel. "You can't make a pig fly," as they say in the dog business especially when you have the kind of attitude Wayne had. One day I watched him picking up dogs and I thought to myself, "that is the most depressed person I ever saw." He went up to the kennel to do turnout.

ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE! There were police cars and ambulances and nobody was allowed in or out of the compound. Of course word spread fast...Wayne was dead. He hung himself in the kennel. He died with his dogs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

There's a problem (part 4)

I learned a lot from Wayne in the months he worked at the kennel. For the first month I did get my time off. After the dogs started running he started to miss work. At first I was picking up a little extra then I was doing extra turnouts and then I was only getting one turnout a week off and sometimes not even that. In the meantime we was missing days at a time except for weigh in's which he was required by law to do and I couldn't do for him.

Then there was a dog fight. One of the dogs had her ear cut which wasn't severe but when a dog's ear gets cut it bleeds like crazy. He was there when it happenned and I watched him doctor it. That afternoon when we came in for turnout she had gotten the bandage off and Wayne redid it. This time he wrapped the whole bandage around her head instead of just her ear so that she couldn't get it off.

That night when I went in to turnout the dog was wheezing. I looked for Wayne at the track but I couldn't find him. I did my work for the evening and went home thinking that he would stop by the kennel after the races like he sometimes did. The next morning I could see that he had not been there.

I did my morning work. I talked to his friends who assurred me that Wayne intended to be there, so I went home again thinking Wayne would be there. He was not. That afternoon there was a note for me at the guardshack to take the racers down and somebody else would be weighing them in. I did this and I let his friends know that Wayned needed to come to the kennel because one of the dogs had a problem that I couldn't fix. I had redone the bandage and she didn't wheeze when it was off but as soon as I put it on she started having problems again.

Still Wayne was a no show. I talked to a trainer I trusted that night and at first he wouldn't help me. (Trainers do not interfere with other kennels. It is actually against the law for race tampering reasons) I finally got him to tell me to cut a slit in the bandage at the base of her neck and that would help her breathe. I did this and she seemed to get better.

The next morning still no Wayne and the dog was in as bad a shape as ever. I was becoming furious at this point. I went to one of his friends and I told him I needed help. At first he refused. Until I told him that if he didn't come help the dog I was going to the track vet and telling her about it and that Wayne had not been to the kennel in 3 days. Reluctantly he accompanied me to the kennel.

As soon as we openned the kennel door, we could hear the dog wheezing. He looked at me with alarm in his eyes and he was a veteran. For him to be worried was a big deal. We took the dog out of her crate and he gently doctored her and the wheezing stopped. He wrapped the bandage around her head but it was much looser than what either Wayne or I had done. Apparently we were slowly strangling the poor dog.

Wayne showed up that night. Apologizing profusely for leaving me. He had also thanked Bill for taking care of the dog when I couldn't. He was mad that I threatened to go to the vet but he understood why because he trusted Billy when he had told him just how bad the situation was.

I even got a weekend off. Partly for good work and partly for not going to the track. He quit not showing up for work also although I didn't get anymore time off after that until he left the kennel.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009



AFTER HOURS OF PRECISION MEASURING (with which I am proud to say I was able to play a minute part) he determined the precise spot to place the outlet. Not only will it be behind the television which will contribute to the aesthetics of the decor, but it is exactly where the existing wires pass through the wall and he will be able to splice directly into the existing wires to complete the outlet.



(p.s. thanks for dinner last night. it was great)

K's Hound (part 3)

Wayne had been there about a week when a little dog named K's Hound was in. He checked her over to make sure she wasn't hurt before her race but he took her off the stand and said, "Little D piece . You grade off tonight." She was on her last line in D which means that if she didn't run a 4th. or better the track would not allow her to race anymore.

I turned around in a panic because I knew that if he let her grade off they would kill her. "NO! You can't do that. She can run. She's hasn't been running because she's afraid of Al." I told him.

He turned and looked at me and the distress in my eyes, "What do you mean?"

"I mean. Al was mean to her. If he lost money on a dog in a race he would come in and take it out on her. She's terrified of him. Me and Kim have been running interference for her for weeks. Please don't let her grade off. All she needs is somebody to treat her right and she will run. I know she will." I told him that I hadn't reported him for abuse because I couldn't prove anything and Kim had promised to keep Al away from K and she had. (Kim was Al's girlfriend)

He got a determined look in his eye and he put her back on the stand. "Come on baby. You get the special treatment today." Then he gave her a massage until she was so relaxed she actually fell over. He put a blanket on her to help the linement do it's job and put her to bed.

That night she won. I went to pick her up with a huge smile on my face and he was there smiling at me. "Don't worry, she's going to be alright now. " And she was. She was never a great racer but she farted around in C and D and made money for her dogfood. That's all she needed to do.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Deadly Juice (part 2)

Wayne came in the next morning and helped with the beds and sprinted dogs and took me to Shoney's for breakfast. (good trainers always buy their help breakfast) As we got to know each other, the other trainers kept stopping by the table. I was fascinated by the fact that they all knew each other. This was despite the fact that they came from different parts of the country. Of course after I was in the business a few years I learned that you never need to say bye to someone when they leave because more than likely you will run into them again somewhere down the line. The average trainer's job last about 3 months. The average helper's job lasts about 3 weeks.

We went back to the compound after breakfast and he said, "Now, this is where your training begins. From here on out, I don't care what anybody has told you before, you do things my way. Got it?"

"Got it."

"First we are going to change 2nd. turnout to after we feed. It's crazy to do turnout and then feed them. If you turnout after you feed they can go to the bathroom if they need to, they don't have to wait until we come back for 2 o'clock turnout."

" 2 o'clock. I've been turning out at 4."

"I know. That changes. From now on afternoon turnout is at 2. Then we will turnout racers and pissers at 5:30 so they can clean out before we go to the track. It's a little more work but it will pay off in the end. By the way, I give bonuses too."

Of course that brought a big smile to my face.

Then he said,"I want you to mix feed today, so I know what they been getting. Tomorrow we do it my way." I proceeded to mix the feed while he weighed the racers. He surprised me by weighing the next day's racers too. When I asked him why, he said, "If you don't weigh them the day before, then you don't know if there is a problem with their weight. If there is a problem you need time to fix it. You can do that if you weigh them the day before. You can't if you wait until the day their in. I don't want to do something drastic to get them across the scale."

After feeding, he started to go over the dogs (check for soreness and injuries and general grooming). I learned more from him when he checked that first dog than I had learned in my entire 3 months in the dog business. He also told me the secret to the "deadly juice". The "deadly juice" was his own personal recipe for linement. I was to later learn that other trainers would try to trick that recipe out of me. I never gave it to another soul - not even my husband. (afterall we were competitors in the dog business)


Wayne S. was the first SuperTrainer that I ever worked for. I knew he was coming for about a week before he got to Charleston and I was intrigued by the fact that all the "old timers" were in awe of him. Their reaction to the mention of his name was one of fear and glee all rolled into one. Fear because they fully expected the kennel to take off the second he hit the compound and glee because the man could party with the best of them. Apparently I had a Rockstar coming to be my boss.

A good trainer is treated like a rockstar at the track. People swarm to buy them drinks and dinner and they hang on to their every word hoping for the next big tip. Women throw themselves at them. They are treated like celebrities. Some of them even have fan clubs. I learned early on to not get involved with a trainer on a personal basis. They have a habit of hiring young girls and passing them from kennel to kennel when they tire of them. Most girls are too dumb to see what's happenning to them too.

I was doing afternoon turnout when up strutted Wayne S. Murray. He looked me up and down as he said, "I hear I got the best help in the compound."

I smiled back, " You do. I hear my dogs are goin' to fly now that you're here."

He just smiled back and said, "that's the goal." He looked the dogs over in the turnout pen taking everything in with just a glance, "You seem to have everything under control. What time's weigh in?"

"six o'clock"

"Well I've got to go make myself legal. I'll see you then," he said as he walked away. Then he turned and said, "I hear you been a little overworked. As soon as I get settled in we will see about getting you some time off."

I smiled back as I said, "that WOULD be nice. I haven't had a day off in 3 weeks."

"I know," he said, "that's what I hear and we are going to put a stop to that."