Saturday, July 21, 2012

Another Blast From My Past


What I Saw?

People always ask me if the dogs are treated good at the track. Yes, the overwhelming majority' are. Here are my personal stats:

90% of the greyhounds are treated like kings

. After all if a dog isn't happy it isn't going to run and make you money. If they don't make money and one or both of you have to go if that happens. Nobody wants that to happen.

9 % get adequate care.

They may not live in the best of everything. (equipment, food, sanitation and care) but they still get the basics. Most pets are not treated as well as this group.

1% are abused. These are the ones that make the doctors and daycare centers. You never hear about them until there's a problem.

If the abuse is physical then people see what is going on and you will lose your job and not get rehired anywhere. In extreme cases the track will step in but there has to be physical proof for them to do anything. Usually the industry takes care of this itself because nobody wants anyone to mistreat their hides, so it never makes it to the track.

Sometimes bottom kennels have to cut costs on materials so they don't have to get rid of dogs. It always seem to me that when this happens the level of TLC goes way up. Big name trainers work in big name kennels. Bottom kennels are full of people who love their dogs and scramble around like mad doing what it takes to just keep them alive in a cutthroat business.

I used to work in top and bottom kennels. All the top kennels wanted me and I worked for most of them at some point in time. But I would see a bottom kennel that needed good help and I would step in and do that job. Sometimes for less pay until things would level out and then I would go get a better job again. Some of those jobs were at kennels where I had worked previously but at new kennels too. I would generally just take whatever job was open.

Then there is physical abuse. It is rare but it happens When people see it, one phone call to an owner generally takes care of the problem. If you get a reputation for it then you won't get another job.

I only reported one case of abuse to the track. I saw 2 more cases but I didn't have proof. Then in one case I interceded with the track and took care of the problem so the people weren't disciplined. The case I reported was so bad that 2 other people reported it with me. The trainer was suspended and warned that a second complaint would result in losing his license to race. They could not jerk his license because there was no physical proof. in these days of cell phone movies that wouldn't be a problem now.

That enough of life at the track today. I won't even get into the actual abuse by the track right now. There's a whole another blog about it somewhere in here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What is it?

Let's Get Mikey

Mikey was a trainer's dog. My friend Kevin took him home when he was finished racing. Kevin took a job in Florida and couldn't take Mikey so I took him home. When Bobby and I moved to Florida to work we gave Mikey to Joel. Around the time Joel moved to Oregon to work, Kevin moved back to West Virginia and took Mikey back. He had Mikey until he died. He had him cremated and the last time I talked to him, Mikey was in an urn on his fireplace mantle.

This is actually a typical story of a greyhound's life. Most trainers have at least one dog at home and it fluctuates as they take dogs home to avoid killing them when the owners don't want them any more. There are dogs stuck in nooks and crannies all over the track that are supposed to be dead but the trainers and helpers are doing their best to find homes for them before it is discovered that they weren't "put to sleep" like they were supposed to be.

Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of perfectly healthy dogs that would make great pets put to sleep. But if it is at all possible to keep them alive, most trainers will do so.

Mikey and Queenie were friends. I also had an Otterhound named Emily. Emily was slow and clumsy on land but graceful as an otter in the water. She used to break ice in the creek in the winter to swim - that's how much she loved water. Otterhounds hunt by scent. Greyhounds hunt by sight. Emily would scent something and start lumbering in the general direction of her prey. This was Mikey and Queenie's cue to take off running in that direction. I don't know how successful their hunts were but I do know that they must have been pretty good at hunting this way because they did it all the time. It was fascinating to watch. I imagine they struck terror in the hearts of the wildlife around our home even when their hunts weren't successful.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

There was Something in the Air that Day

On September 24, 1982 I eloped.
On September 24, 1982 my Aunt Mary and Doug Noble eloped.
On September 24, 1982 my cousin Lit'le Man and Tonya eloped.

None of us knew the others were eloping What a surprise it was to our families that not only one of us eloped but all of us did it on the same day.

Unfortunately All 3 couples divorced. I think Lit'le Man and Tonya were first and then Doug and Mary and finally Bobby and I.

Lit'le Man and Tonya remarried years ago.
Doug and Mary are on their way to the altar again.
There is no way in hell that Bobby and I will reunite.

The big question is....Will Mary and Doug remarry on September 24, 2012. Exactly 30 years to the day they married the first time?

The next question is...Since Mary is getting remarried will she change her name to ReMary?

Last but not least...Can I come to the wedding?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cheyenne Queen

Queenie was the first greyhound I ever owned and was the mother of all my pups. She was given to my husband by an owner as a Christmas gift. We got her before she was even 2 years old because of an injury. We took her everywhere with us and spent many happy years together with her.

She was an excellent mother. When it would come time for her pups to be born she would come wake us up and start whelping. We would watch over her to make sure there were no problems. We learned early to leave her with her babies as long as possible - she taught them a lot about racing before they ever got to the track. She would pick up the squeaky toys that we bought for the pups and run around the yard squeaking them while they chased her. They would literally chase birds that flew over the yard because they loved to run so much.

She enjoyed my 100 acre farm immensely. She had the run of the whole place. I had to put her down when she was 10 years old due to severe arthritis. I didn't have the heart to do it so I had to have Bobby come up from Florida just to do it. She is buried in the front yard of that 100 acre farm with red tulips blooming on her grave every year. Every time I visit our local animal shelter I stop by the memorial walk where I had a brick engraved with her name. I miss her very much.

I Love a Parade

When I was in high school my friends and I decided to build our own float for the homecoming parade instead of helping one of the clubs. We stayed up all night for about a week making those paper flowers out of tissues and covering the top of a limosine with them. It looked pretty cool and we made signs for the side that said " A Touch of Class".

We took a vote and I won. I got to be the "Wildcat" who rode on top throwing candy to all the kids. Everybody else rode inside the limo during the parade. (there were 13 of us) We had to seal everybody in the limo at my house and then drive to the parade. (so the float would look good, of course) I rode on top of the limosine all the way from my house to Logan (about 5 miles).

Dummy me decided to play a joke on everybody. When we rounded a very sharp curve in West Logan, Delana was driving about 15 mph, I banged on the roof loud once and then a couple of little thumps and screamed like I fell off the top. She slammed on the brakes and I almost really DID fall off! Thankfully I held on.

We had a great time in that parade. The kids loved the candy and my friends loved riding in the limo and I loved riding on top. It was a great day!

Baby Greyhound

With so many questions about greyhounds right now, I thought I would write about a few of my own. I have owned 29 greyhounds. 20 out of 29 became AA's. (very good) 2 of those were stakes dogs. Out of the 9 left 3 were fighters (that means that they picked on dogs on the track so the track wouldn't let them race). The other 6 were injured as pups in one way or another and were placed in good homes (as were all my dogs when they were finished racing).

Baby Greyhound had by far the best personality of any greyhound (or other dog for that matter) that I ever saw - and I have seen thousands of them. She was so named because at 5 weeks of age she had a perfect greyhound figure. Here was this cute little greyhound running around in the middle of her 8 brothers and sisters and they all looked like little hound dogs . I thought this was a good thing, little did I know what was to be.

In addition to having the best personality ever - she liked to talk and hold conversations with everyone she met - and she had the world's biggest smile. She was the ugliest, skinniest greyhound that I and all the trainers that I had contact with ever saw. Every time I would place her in a new kennel (she was slow) the trainer would always assure me that he could get weight on her. I would just smile because I had been trying to put weight on her for her whole life. Eventually they all gave up and just ran her like she was. She actually looked like something out of the movie "Nightmare before Christmas"! One time she was asleep in my hallway and I stepped over her not paying attention and I thought to myself, "who left that skeleton laying in the hallway!" (it was Halloween BTW)

When she was a puppy one of my neighbors came to me and told me "that dog is talking to me through the fence everyday." I thought she was full of it. Then I moved out to a farm and in the afternoon the dogs would lay under our trailer to escape the heat. You could hear Baby Greyhound just talking up a storm to the other dogs. It was hilarious. When she would go to weigh-in at the track all the lead outs would fight over who got to take care of her. At Palm Beach they wanted to make her the track mascot but decided against it because she was so ugly! Everyone who met her loved her but people also thought she was being starved because she was so skinny. It was her metabolism. I never turned down a morsel of food for that dog - she ate like a bottomless pit!

I took her home when she finished racing and kept her until she died years later. Everywhere I went if she wasn't with me then people wanted to know where she was. My friends Sis's mom (who was bedridden) adored her and kept sneaking her in the house much to Sis's chagrin. When Sis saw how happy Baby Greyhound made her mom though (she was the perfect height to pet from a hospital bed. She would lay her head on Donna's belly and talk to her while Donna petted her) she quit objecting.

This smiley looks like Baby Greyhound's smile. I just wish I could duplicate her voice. She sounded like Charlie Brown's Teacher.

I Never Took Any Money for Finding Greyhounds Homes...

...even though there were adoption groups making hundreds of dollars for each dog that they found a home. That is why I was so effective at finding homes for them. I also did follow up visits to make sure everything was OK and I only had to take back a handful of dogs for various reasons.

One time I drove a dog about 40 miles to a lady's house. She insisted that I take $20 for gas. At first I refused, but I relented when she told me if I didn't take the money I could just turn around and take the dog back home with me. I knew if I turned around and took that dog back to the kennel, they would kill it. They had no room for it and I didn't have any room at my house for even one more dog. So I took the money.

There probably wouldn't have been anything wrong with me taking money but I had several adoption groups on my ass because I did for free what they did for money. The tracks couldn't make me shut down because I wasn't taking any money also.

That meant I could funnel 10 dogs to homes compared to adoption groups finding 1 home.