Thursday, May 10, 2012

GONE TO THE DOGS - one at a time

Wayne came in the next morning and helped to do beds, sprint dogs and of course we went to Shoney's for breakfast. As we were getting to know each other the other trainers kept stopping by our table. I was fascinated that they all seemed to know each other despite the fact that they all came from different areas of the country.

We went back to the compound after breakfast and Wayne said, "This is where your training begins. I don't care what anybody has told you before, you do things my way. You got a problem with that?"


"Good. First we are going to change second turnout to after we feed. It is crazy to turnout and then feed. If you turnout first then the dogs don't get to clean out. Feed first then they don't have to wait until afternoon turnout at two o'clock."

"Two? We've been turning out at four."

"Well, now it's two. Like I said things are different now. When we come back for weigh-in we will kick out the racers and pissers again. It's more work but it will pay off in the long run. By the way, I give bonuses."

That brought a big smile to my face. Then he said, "I want you to mix feed today so I know what they've been getting. Tomorrow we do it my way." I proceeded to mix feed while he weighed racers. He surprised me by weighing the next days racers too. When I asked him why he said, "if you don't weigh them the day before you don't know you have a problem. You don't have time to fix it if you wait until the day they are in. I don't want to do something drastic to get them across the scale."

After feeding he went over the racers. I learned more from watching him check the first dog than I had learned in my whole time in the dog business. He also told me the secret to his "deadly juice." The "deadly juice" was his personal recipe for liniment. I was to later learn that many trainers would try to trick that recipe out of me. I never gave it to another soul - not even my husband.

Wayne had been working about a week when Kay was in. He checked her over to make sure she wasn't hurt but then he took her off the bench and said, "little D piece of shit, tonight you grade off." She was on her last line in D which meant that if she didn't run 4th. or better the track wouldn't let her race anymore.

Basically it was a death sentence and I panicked when I heard him say it," No! You can't do that!" I yelled. "She can run. She hasn't been running because she's afraid of Sal."

He turned to look at me and he could see the distress in my eyes. "What do you mean?"

"I mean Sal was mean to her. If he would lose money on a dog he would come in the kennel and take it out on her. Terri and I have been running interference for her but she cringes every time he comes in the kennel. You can't let her just grade off. If she's treated right, I know she can run. You have to save her." I also let him know that I would have reported Sal but I didn't have proof and Terri was helping to keep Sal away.

Wayne got a determined look in his eye and put Kay back on the stand. "C'mon baby, you get the special treatment today." He rubbed her down until she actually fell over on the stand, then he put a blanket on her to help drive in the liniment and put her to bed.

That night Kay won. I went to pick her up with a huge smile on my face and Wayne was there waiting for me. I thanked him with tears in my eyes and he told me not to worry that she was going to be fine from here on out. And she was. She was never a great racer. She farted around in C and D but she made money for dog food and that was more than many dogs do. When she finally did grade off she was the first dog I ever found a home for. Trainers were laughing at me for doing it and they all told me I would regret it.

They were wrong. One by one I started to find homes for the greyhounds. I couldn't complain when one was marched off to the vet, but I was finding homes for more and more dogs and I saved the ones I could and refused to let it bother me when I couldn't. Then the old timers started coming to me. They would say, "I have a dog I want you to find a home for. If you tell anybody I will deny that I gave you the dog and they will be your responsibility. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly," I would tell them and take the dog and go on my merry way. They added up pretty quick. "One at a time." That was my new motto.

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