Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wet Weekend

Kassa here and I have a beef to pick.  First of all there was no grey play this weekend.  Dad said it was supposed to rain on Sunday so there would be no play.  Then he put me in the field all by myself on Saturday while he worked on other areas without ME!  I must admit I did enjoy sunning myself in the field but he is supposed to throw the ball more than 5 or 6 times for me to be happy.

Sunday we went back to the field just before the rain hit.  Dad said he was tired of me picking up ticks and eating the grass on the right side of the property and it was time to clean it up.  Just because I like to gorge myself on grass every once in a while and then regurgitate it on the carpet later doesn't mean it isn't a worth while experience.  Heres a before shot.

Here is the after shot.  Dad cleaned up most of the loose wood and trimmed up the grass.

Later we Dad said we will have a bon fire.  I don't know what that is but it sounds interesting.

After the rains subsided we came back in the evening.  Dad let me run a bit and then he did a horrible horrible thing.  He put me in the truck and he stayed in the field by himself.  WHY!  Something about dogs should never be in the same area as a chainsaw.  He then went to work on my beautiful field and cut down a bunch of stumps.  Those were my favorite pit stops. What is the man thinking.

So after he worked on decimating my field we went home and he had one last unthinkable task.  He gave me another BATH.  Now I smell like a freshly washed puppy.  When will this craziness end!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A weekend High.

It was a busy weekend but in it all Kassa got to meet up with foster Sarge.  The dog park wasn't working out this week as there were to many small dogs for Kassa to run free.  We were able to salvage a run with by meeting up with Sarge's foster family.  For those who have been following, Sarge was the dog we brought back from the track that stood up all the way home!  Sarge is going to make some lucky family very very happy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A trip to the track.

Something I have long wanted to do was to make a trip to the racetrack and the kennels to get a better picture of what life is like for the greyhounds before adoption.  I have read a lot of stories and points of view but there are some things that you simply have to experience for yourself.  Earlier this month I had just such an opportunity.  I joined a two truck road trip to the race track in Birmingham.  Our mission: To pick up 12 greys that are ready for the finer things in life.  We were going to keep 8 in the GPAN group and 4 were headed on to Cincinnati.
Now first off I would like to say that the trip to pick up greys is a joyous event.  The women who regularly make the journey are a ton of fun.  Walkie talky banter between the lead vehicle aka "Thunder Paws" and ours made the trip fly by.  When we arrived at the track there were clear signs that we were in the right place.

The first impression I got from the kennel areas was this is an older facility.  It isn't that it isn't equipped or totally unsanitary or anything like that, but it is a far cry from the glitz of a Vegas casino.  When we hopped out of the trucks we could see all the dogs out in the dog run waiting to see us.  A woman with a cheery disposition and an infectious smile was there to greet us.  I found out that this was the very same kennel and very same handler that had Kassa before he came to me.  Next it was off to meet the dogs.  Now I won't say that the kennel smelled of roses.  In fact the waft of ammonia hit the nostrils pretty strongly.  But as a person who has frequented farms in the past, I know that when you put a lot of animals together, be it in a barn or kennel, there will be some odors that you have to adjust to.

There were three turn out areas.  Two areas are used for the boys and one for the girls.  Of course you have to keep the genders separate or you would have an unplanned increase in population. (I pretty much fell in love with the white dog in the picture below.)
Even though these dogs are working dogs and are not living in "sleep on the couch environments", it was obvious to me that they are healthy, well feed and well cared for.  For those not familiar with greyhounds, you may wonder about the muzzles.  The muzzles do not lock the dogs mouths shut in any way. The dogs can drink through them.  When you have to manage a large number of dogs together, muzzling them is the best way to ensure that there are no injuries due to spats.  As you can see most of the time it wouldn't be a problem regardless.  When we get a group of adopted dogs together to run and play we sometimes will put on their muzzles for their protection.  When you get a group of dogs running around at 30-45 mph one is going to get bumped and frustrated at some point.

Here is a big boy that I know will join our group someday!  From what I understand the dogs are turned out at least 3 times a day for an hour at a time.  They race somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 times per week.  Now I give my Kassa a quite a bit of exercise, but I know that it doesn't approach what they would get while they are still working.
After their outdoor time is over they are let back into the kennel area in three waves and crated up one by one.  Here they get some love from the woman with the infectious smile and of course any gawkers who are there to pick up some dogs.
It was amazing to me how the dogs know the routine.  They mill around and one by one as the crates are opened jump up inside.  Here is an action shot... but it isn't a very good one.

Here is another picture of the big boy.   As you can see, they have enough room to stand up/sit up and turn around in their crates.

You may also notice that this guy was muzzled in the crate.  I asked about this and was told that they are on rotation for who wears muzzles when crated and that rotation changes between turnouts.  I got the impression that the handler has a very busy job.  Between turning them out, preparing food, feeding them and cleaning the crates and putting down new paper not to mention taking them to race,  it would be a constant cycle.

We went and collected our dogs.  In total we collected dogs from 3 different kennels.   You could tell that the dogs are loved by the way the handlers interacted with them.  Some didn't want to come with us but rather kept looking back at their misty eyed handlers.  Both had a bit of trouble saying goodbye.  The next phase of our trip involved microchipping, photographing and small dog/cat testing at the local adoption center.  No animals are harmed in the small dog/cat testing as the greys are muzzled and leashed.  In our case all proved to be small critter safe.

Then we loaded up the truck and headed back to Nashville.  This was a new experience for the dogs but eventually they all lay down.  All except one :)

Sergeant Major wanted to make sure everything was secure the whole trip back. Things went pretty smoothly in the other vehicle as well.

When we arrived back in Nashville all the foster families were there to great us.  The dogs got baths and nail trimmings and headed home to the first step in their new life. 

I'm sure my experience is not the same as everyone's at every track and I know that the variety of opinions on racing are wide and deep, however what became apparent to me is that good systems and caring handlers lead to healthy dogs.  Good relationships with adoption groups help ensure that these dogs have long and happy lives.  Please visit   to find out more about Nashville's adoption program and to find out what dogs are currently available.