At 2 months of age it was obvious that my puppies were outgrowing my yard fast. I found a 10 acre place in the middle of the swamp in Loxahatchee. It had a rundown trailer that we had to rebuild from the floor up -literally, there were no floors in it. We made a deal with a friend to be a partner in half interest of a pup to help with the labor of building fences and such.
He sold us back the interest because he didn't like some of my ideas about raising greyhounds. I did not allow any rabbits to be killed. It wasn't necessary. When they were about 5 weeks old I started buying rabbit toys that squeaked and throwing them in the middle of my pups and it took no time before they started to shred them in seconds. I used to run around the fence holding a mop over the pups and have them chase it. (this was to simulate the rabbit at the track) By the time they were 3 months old they were chasing birds that flew over the yard. Nothing had to die to instill this instinct to chase in them either.
The straw that broke the camel's back was when I came home to find that our partner had bulldozed a 500 foot run that was 20 feet wide to raise the dogs in. This left a collosal amount of the property that wasn't being utilized for the dogs and I just couldn't see the logic of it. I called the dozer guy back and we scraped a 5 acre field for the dogs to run. By the time it was finished it was a circular shape like the track (except they could run across the middle if they wanted to) and it was even bigger. My partner thought this was crazy. It defied every bit of greyhound farming that his 20 years of experience given him. (I had about 5 years experience at this point) So we bought back his interest in a pup.
Our pups loved this field. More than once I would step into it and have to hit the dirt because a herd of greyhound pups was coming at me at 30 miles an hour and they didn't have enough sense to stop! They would just run over me and keep going. There was a 6 foot fence around their pen but we had just a 5 foot gate. That was a mistake. Queenie, their mom, would jump the gate when she tired of her babies. I thought this was cute until the puppies got older and started to jump the gate with her.
Once they could jump the gate at will, they spent a lot of time living under my trailer. I would be in the house and they would all be lounging under us and I would hear Baby Greyhound chattering away. She would talk even when there weren't any people around. She sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher in one of those tv specials.
I give full credit to a stray cat that hung around to training my dogs also. I fed him in the yard until the pups started to stay there and then I moved his food outside the gate so he wouldn't be harrassed by them. He seemed to enjoy the chase though. Even though his food was outside the gate, everytime I fed the greyhounds he was right there in the middle of them to get his share.
The strange part is that all 11 dogs would encircle the cat while he ate the food and watch him until he finished eating. Then he would slowly make his way toward the gate and there would be some invisible signal that I never quite figured out. All of a sudden he would streak to the fence and climb over it with the greyhounds hot on his trail. At first I would scream and try to make sure that he wasn't going to get killed but it soon became apparent that nothing I did was going to make a difference. Both the cat and the dogs KNEW the game they were playing.
(to be continued...)