Saturday, March 13, 2010

GONE TO THE DOGS - new routine

"We're not going to change anything - just tweak things a bit that's all. The Goose is flying right now and I intend to keep it that way," he said to me. "In fact, we need to finish up. My good news had us running behind right now. We need to get out of the kennel as close to the regular schedule as we can."

To hear him say that was a relief to my ears. When Sal was around it usually made the morning drag by, it was hard to work around him. Sal left a massive tip like he always did and we took off for the kennel. He was singing the whole way back, "So what's left to do?" He asked me.

"Just feed and go over dogs," I said.

"Good, good, on the ball as usual. Any problem with weights?"

"There all good. You know you have to give Roger a little extra, he looses lots of weight on race days," I told him.

"Of course I know. Thanks for the reminder. Youse keeps me on my toes. I like that." We started to feed. A couple of times I had to stop him from feeding a racer too much but other than that things went smoothly. When we finished feeding I started to clean up. Sal made me stop to get the grooming bench down for him. I went back to my feed pans and Sal walked over to Pete's crate and stood in front of it and said,"Pete."

"Pete," he repeated a little louder as he stood in front of the dog just looking at him.

"Pete," he repeated again and then it dawned on me what Sal was doing. He actually wanted me to walk over there and take Pete out of his cage and put him on the bench for him. So I dutifully stopped what I was doing and got the dog and put him on the bench. As I started back to the kitchen Sal said, "Pam I need youse to hold him while I go over him. Wouldn't want him to jump down or anything would we?"

"Alright Sal," luckily Terri came in from the guard shack about then. She took over holding Pete and getting the dogs for Sal while I finished cleaning up. I was glad. The morning was going to drag on forever if I had to do Sal's job and mine too. It was almost one o'clock as it was. Finally we finished going over the dogs. It was so late that I was not going to be able to go home. I would have to take a nap at the car lot again. Bobby and I had been looking for a place to move but we hadn't found anything yet. Sal told me to be back at four for afternoon turnout and he would be back at six for weigh-in.

"What a day," I thought. Bobby was going to die when I told him I got a hundred dollar a week raise. Things were looking better and better for us. I slept until three and I took off for the track. I washed off in the restroom in the guard shack. I did that alot actually. I was the only girl in the compound and I had the restroom all to myself most of the time. The guys actually hung a sign that said "Pam's Room" as a joke.

There had been a few girls hired but they never made it for very long. They always ended up sleeping with the trainer and when he would get tired of them they would just get passed to the next kennel until they slept their way out of the compound. Trainers were like rockstars and women flocked to them. I was always amazed that it worked out that way - but it always happened.

As I walked out of the restroom Danford was sitting on the couch. Actually he was just waking up. He smiled when he saw me. We had become good friends. He had saved my butt on more than one occasion. He was local but he had worked long enough that he could be a trainer.

"Wake up sleepy head," I said, "what do you think this is a spa or something?"

"Cut me some slack," he said, "I got out of my kennel later than you got out of yours. I'm sick of Pat. I'm gonna' quit, I swear I am. Big doin's in your kennel I hear. What about it?"

"You already know?"

"Sure. Everybody knows. They was fightin' all over the track last night. You shoulda heard 'em. I thought they was goin' to call security for a minute after the twelth race."

"Was it that bad?"

"Oh yeah, about as bad as it gets."

"You want to hear MY big news," I asked him.


"I'm getting a hundred dollar a week raise."

Danford's eyebrows shot up, "no shit!" he started to laugh. He knew I wouldn't lie about it. "Son of a bitch!" He was jealous and happy for me at the same time.

"Can you believe it? Don't tell anybody, okay." I really didn't need to tell him that.

Turned out Sal liked to brag," I got the highest paid help in the compound." It was part of his persona.

However Danford said, "hey, if you don't rub it in, I won't tell."

"Deal," I told him and I took off to do afternoon turnout. He came back and did his turnout at the same time. We kept each other company while our dogs lounged in the sun. It was a lazy day. After turnout I beat Danford back to that filthy, shaggy couch that I had sworn I would never touch when I saw it my first day in the kennel. It didn't matter to me anymore. I crashed for a quick nap and Danford hopped over me and rooted himself in on the other end and promptly fell asleep. We knew the guard would wake us up for weigh-in. It wasn't really his job but he knew the consequences if we happened to sleep through weigh-in.

Friday, March 12, 2010

GONE TO THE DOGS - Sal's in charge

"Pam, hey Pam, what's happening?"

"Sal, what are you doing here?" It was ten in the morning and I hadn't seen anybody yet, not that that was unusual or anything. I had been in the kennel for about three months now and Jeff had been gettting later and later everyday.

"Well, I got news, big news! You're not going to freakin' believe it when I tell youse." Sal was smiling from ear to ear and Terri's grin was just as big as his.

Terri cut Sal off, "C'mon Sal, let me tell her, awright. I wanna break the news to her." Terri and I had become pretty good friends over the past couple of months. She had been a model before she met Sal but she wasn't snooty or anything. In fact, she really impressed me with how hard she was willing to work - when Sal wasn't around that is. She did afterall have a role to play as his girlfriend and she was expected to look and act a certain way around he and his friends were around and I understood that. When it was just us we had a really good time iin the kennel.

"Okay, guys, somebody tell me something. Don't leave me in suspense."

"Well, " Sal said to me while completely ignoring Terri, "I'm your new boss."

"What do you mean you're my new boss, you've always been my boss."

"I mean I'm running the show now. I'm the owner. I'm the trainer. Hell, I'll be the king of the track before it's all over."

"What do you mean, you're the trainer? Where's Jeff?"

"Jeff is no longer with S & T Kennels. He does however still reside in our guest bedroom." I was speechless. Jeff and I had become pretty close. We made a pretty good team. I looked out for him when he had too much to drink and he gave me time off to make up for it. It was a marriage made in heaven so to speak. The dogs hadn't been running too good lately but I didn't think it had come to this.

"What happened? What about the stakes race?" I asked. I was afraid to ask directly about Jeff or let Sal know how upset I was because that just wouldn't be a good idea. Sal was big on loyalty. He had to come first and I knew that. It was one of the things that drove Jeff crazy. They were like brothers, they had grown up together, but Sal was always trying to put a wedge between us and play us against each other. We were on to him though and knew how to work things to our advantage.

"Let's go to Shoney's, " he said, "I'll tell youse all about it on the way." He and Terri were already walking out the door. I closed the door the the kitchen so a dog couldn't get in and eat to it's heart's content if it accidentally got out of a crate. I followed them to the

GONE TO THE DOGS - Sal's in charge