Thursday, May 26, 2011

They Said I Was Wrong

I've been wrong a lot in my life but now about 2 of the most important things I ever did.

I got into the greyhound business back in the 80's because I wanted to do the greyhound expose' and expose the big, bad dogtrack for it's treatment of animals. I quickly learned that for the most part most of those dogs were treated like kings. I also learned that I was good at it and I could make more of a difference on the inside. So that is what I did.

When I started they were killing ALL the greyhounds. When they were finished racing, if they weren't breedable (98% aren't) then they were put down. A polite way of saying, "murdered". I started finding homes for them one at a time. I would beg for the chance to save one, at first I was told, "they don't make good pets." Then I was told that the legal responsibilities were too great. I met any arguement they had with,"but I can do it."

One by one I would find homes. At first the old timers would come to me and whisper, "I have a dog for you, but if you breathe one word about where you got it then I'll never give you another." I assured them their secrets were safe with me. By the time I got out of the business (thanks to others like me - I wasn't the only one) most tracks had their own adoption kennels and there were adoption groups all over the country vying for the dogs. (most groups make a pretty penny on adoption fees) I never charged anybody for a dog and I found homes for a couple thousand of them. Some kennels were even donating the money it would cost to put the dog down to the adoption agencies to help them out as well.

I was right.

The other thing I was right about was the way I raised my pups. I moved onto a 10 acre swamp in Florida so I could raise them the way I wanted. Most greyhound pups are raised in 100 or 500 foot runs that are about 10 or 20 feet wide. I raised mine in a circular field that was almost as big as the track. One partner I had got so mad that he sold me half interest in his pup for $100 because he said I was ruining the dogs! He told me many times he regretted that mistake.

I didn't skimp on nutrition. They were fed full fledged race food from the beginning except that I didn't mix it with hi-pro, I mixed it with puppy chow. My pups looked so good by the time they were 10 months old that old dog men were chewing their lips with jealousy when they saw them.

The proof was in the pudding as they say. Out of 29 greyhounds, I raised 10 that went to double A (highest grade). I had 2 in stakes races even though they didn't win. Out of the nine that didn't make it to double A they made the money back it cost to raise them (about $4000 a dog back in the 90's). All except for 3 that is. They turned out to be fighters. Fighters are dogs that like to get beside the lead dog and pound the hell out of them with their muzzles. It interferes with the race and the track rules them off if they do it 3 times. It is sad because most of them are fast, but you can't let them interfere with other dogs in a race either.

So I was right about that too.

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