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.)
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.
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 gpanashville.org to find out more about Nashville's adoption program and to find out what dogs are currently available.