Monday, October 15, 2012

Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option: 2012 Reunion

Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option is the adoption group that is partially funded by Southland Park and has an on-site kennel.  As Ricky Bobby raced at Southland, we decided to attend their fundraising reunion this year.  Of course the reunion isn't limited to dogs that came from Southland, but I felt extra motivated to go this year so that Ricky could see his old stomping grounds.
The event wasn't supposed to start until around 5:00 but we arrived around 1:00.  We were told that it is a lot of fun to let the dogs observe the races inside and behind the glass and watch their reactions to everything.   There was some confusion because we were quite early for the event, however eventually things got sorted out and we (and other greyhound adopters) were graciously invited into the kennel club with the dogs to watch the races for some private viewing.

Ricky wasn’t that animated inside.  I don't think that his eyes are as good as Kassa’s are.  Outside where he could hear the sounds and smells associated with a race he was so excited he was hard to control but Kassa was ever vigilant both inside and out.  He was fixated on Rusty (the stuffed bone/lure) that zips around the track.  I wish I had watched more of the races, but I was so fixated on watching my dog’s reactions that I kind of forgot to really take in what was going on.

After the matinee finished we went back to the hotel for a while and returned at 5:00 for cocktail hour.  The dogs milled around as the humans were merry.

We then had the opportunity to walk the track with the boys.    While the dogs walk the track they do an announcement on the viewing floor describing the greyhound adoption program.

Both Ricky and Kassa were super excited and I admit that I had a very strong temptation to unhook them so they could run the track.  I kept my temptations in check however and we went upstairs for the fundraiser dinner and auction.

They had a great turn out at the event and both hound and human were suitably exhausted by then end.
The next morning we went to check out the adoption kennel.  The staff there kept the whole kennel absolutely immaculate and were providing the 'broken leg dogs' with excellent care while they mended in preparation for adoption.  It was really quite an impressive setup.  

These adoption programs are very well run; and they also have large financial burdens. Surgery for a dog that has a broken leg can be thousands of dollars alone, not including the cost of food and shelter. Another huge area of concern, is one of transportation costs. As the landscape of racing has changed, we are now in a position where there are a large number of dogs residing in the east, and a large number of adopters and adoption centers in the west with no systematic, safe, and cost effective, way to transport them. Almost Home for Hounds, located in Nunn CO acts as a way-station for greyhounds on the way to retirement, by providing both housing and medical services including (spaying/ neutering, dental cleaning, vaccinations, heart worm tests and microchipping.) It works closely with adoption groups on the west coast, to ensure that the dogs have a safe transition from their racing lives to their life as a pet. I personally think that much of these medical and transportation expenses should be built into the National Greyhound Association's racing licensing fees; however, I don't think this is on anyone's radar. Until then, these needs will need to be addressed by the adoption community, and the good people who volunteer their time and money to it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Catching Up

This year brought the unfortunate turn of events where my camera suffered an untimely demise.  It has proved difficult for me to coordinate grabbing the pictures off my wife's camera and getting anything onto the blog while the events are still fresh in my mind.  So this is going to be a great big catch-up post with few words and lots of pics.


The snake Kassa and Ricky cornered at the grey play field and would not leave alone:

As a result it we had to confine them to our area.  I have no idea what kind of snake it was but I preferred not to experiment with the dogs.

Luckily the next time the group gathered the snake had moved on.

Our mini vacation to the lake, where I grabbed a few scenic shots.  Kassa and Ricky stayed with a greyplay family.  I realized later that we missed Kassa's birthday.  The great thing about dogs is.. they don't seem to mind when you miss these things.

The GPAN summer Picnic

Our friend Lou's dog (Oath) ran for president.

She got Kassa's vote and of course won the day.

There was also a hot dog eating contest.

Needless to say,  although the blog hasn't been that active, Kassa and Ricky have been.  Kassa still wont fetch a ball anymore, (except when he and I are alone at the baseball diamond).  He loves working on stays and recalls though.  Ricky fetches like a wild thing and has taken to eating dirt out of the planters.  He will now jump into high vehicles with coaxing of treats etc but he takes his own sweet time deciding to do it.  His fireworks phobias have receded and he is now eager and ready to go outside.  He is a happy goofy boy, and I think I can see his confidence has grown as has his trust in us.

Monday, July 30, 2012


A friend of mine recently, and unexpectedly, lost her heart dog.  One of the things that seems to be a bit difficult for her is that as the camera holder in the family, her pics of the dog are many, but the pics of her with the dog were few.  I'm really thankful that there are a few people in the group with cameras and will always have fond memories of this bbq greyplay event.  Here I am having a bit of fun with the pups.

Here is my good friend Tony, drowning in hounds :)

Thanks very much to Diane for capturing these memories.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Giles Express Needs a hand

Recently it came to my attention that Giles Express was "dumped at animal control, with more than 1000 fleas sucking him dry. On the verge of death, he was transported to Knoxville Pet Emergency Center for care"  Giles was an adopted dog who was obviously suffering from neglect.  He is also my dog's (Ricky Bobby's) sire.  If you can spare a dollar or two please consider contributing to Giles' medical expenses.

Donation fund for Giles' medical expenses.

Emergency Auction for Giles

I'm a pretty strong advocate of the adoption system as a whole even though, as some are quick to point out, I don't invest the hours and hours of work to the cause that some do.  I recently did a random survey by looking at all the dogs that raced at a track on a particular day in history.  I then tried to find out where the dogs ended up that were no longer racing. I was easily able to find the dogs that were racing based on the track's website.  I then started doing internet searches and used resources such as to find out where the dogs are.  I was able to find 67% of the dogs had ended up in an adoption program using this method. I noticed that the adoption group based at the track does not use greyhound data, so I contacted them.  They act as a central hub sending dogs to groups throughout the states and many into an adoption group in Canada.  My contact there was able to bring the total entering adoption programs to 94% with 6% returning to the farms.  I was elated.  Based on this random sample I can't say that the adoption rate in the USA is 94%, nor can I say that at that track is 94%, but I can say that it is an indication of a successful system and one that people who contribute more than I do should be proud of.  (It has been pointed out that I mostly get together with people and their dogs, drink beer and allow the dogs to run and play, and pontificate online... for which what can I say but.. GUILTY..).

Then news of Giles comes which brings me crashing down to earth.  Even if the system was honed to perfection, there is no utopian solution.  Life is messy.  There are all sorts of things that can happen in the racing world due to the highly athletic competitive nature of the sport, due to complacency and human error, and due a catastrophic failure in the formation of some people's humanity (Ron Williams).  I think what galls me most is that Giles wasn't failed by commercial racing system. He was very successful there.  Instead he was failed by the pet system and, as shown by many animal channel tv shows, many pets are.  At 11 years old Giles is not a young dog.  I'm sure where ever he spends his remaining years it will be a home fit for kings, but I really hope we can set up a reunion where he can see his offspring Ricky and Pickle.

PS.  My actual random sample looked like this:  Started with 112 dogs. Found that 52 of them were no longer racing.  49 of the 52  were found in an adoption program.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I now dub thee Grey Play Grill

A few weeks ago one of the families in the grey play group donated their grill to the field.  Now this opens up a wide range of possibilities of entertainment for both human and hound.  Ok ... mostly human.  Saturday evening we decided to give the grill its first whirl in its new grey play role and I had been anticipating it all week.  The weather forecast looked clear and although not all of our beloved greyplay members could make it we were going to have a good turnout.  On the day of we got a bit of a scare in that some unexpected rain started moving through and was forecast to hit the field right at the time we were to arrive.  But, die-hards that we are we decided to go for it.

As it turned out we got the best of the best.  There was some thunder rumbling now and again and we did get a little drizzle, but that just served to cool things down so that the dogs could get a bit randy.

In total there are few things that I enjoy more than a grill out with friends while watching the dogs zip.  The batch of margaritas that we consumed certainly didn't hurt as well.  

I really can't recommend enough finding a good group of folks to enjoy your dogs with and finding a place to do it.  Everybody wins!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bambi and Thumper

Hi .. I'm Thumper

Hi Thumper.. I'm Bambi

I'm coming over to say HI

And closer

And closer...

Thumper: Nice to meet you Bambi .. BYE..
Kassa: Darn Foiled again... but dad.. that bunny is MOCKING ME!!

The rabbits in my back yard are INCREDIBLY BOLD. We repeated this exercise about 4 times this past week but this time I remembered my camera. They will be in for a shock if the boys ever unhook.  Pics don't really do justice to how close we actually got.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Racing Into the Light

One of the new things in the greyhound world is a documentary, by Bill Buchanan,  being created on the history of greyhounds and the inner workings of the racing industry.

When I watched the original version of this trailer I was concerned that this documentary was going to end up being fairly one sided against the racing industry.  It started out with footage that showed the majestic appeal of the hounds thundering around the track, followed by interviews with people in the industry explaining their positions and the issues they see.  It then progressed to show dogs wiping out during the race and a dog with an amputated leg which was no doubt the result of a bad break.  It then ended with some hard emotional slams against the industry via interviews with Grey2K affiliates.  At least that was my perception.  My concern was that a documentary which works specifically to demonize the industry could cause a setback in the positive reforms that have occurred in racing and damage the relationships between the industry and adoption groups.

I have watched this video and revised versions of it quite a few times since then and the more I watch it the more I believe it is going to be a fair and balanced accounting of the racing and adoption world and some problems that exist within it.

  1. It gives credence to the history of the greyhound and its athleticism and its desire to run.
  2. It allows the racing industry to speak.  It shows that the hounds can not be forced to run and must be well cared for in order to compete.  
  3. It shows greyhounds in their track environments including the crates, newspaper bedding, and muzzles at turnout and that they appear healthy from birth to track. I don't get any negative impression off of the footage of the dog farm.
  4. It shows that wipe outs and injuries do indeed happen and states an area of possible improvement which is improving the condition of the track surface.  When it does show the dramatic wipe out it does not end the clip leaving you to assume the dog died.  It shows the dog getting up and trotting off the track.
  5. It shows the animosity between the greyhound breeders and trainers and the anti-racing groups.
  6. It shows the anti-racing community stating the purpose of their cause and speaking to their concerns about the risk of injury to the dogs and their views about the types of injuries sustained.
  7. It shows the anti-racing community stating their affection for the dogs and their view that they are not objects but living breathing beings that deserve respect and decency.
  8. It ends with footage of greyhounds as pets in happy homes.

If I were to try to create a picture of the racing landscape as I have perceive it to be, I don't think I would have done it any differently (except of course I wouldn't have had the excellent cinematography and dramatic music and the spelling on the subtitles would have been in error).

From what I have seen of reviews of this clip in online communities, it appears that the extremists are still extreme and no doubt Mr Buchanan is exhausted and exasperated from reading and responding to email regarding his intentions.  I was curious how people, who have little to do with greyhounds, felt about this trailer and so I asked two.  Note that these are not Mr Buchanan's judgments but are the judgments that the people took away from the information presented in the clip.

The first is a good friend of mine and someone who is an animal rights advocate by nature and practice.  She was suspicious of the motives, felt it was overall pro racing but felt she could see that attempt was made to be objective.  She was moderately reassured that the documentary would be authentic by Mr Buchanans past documentary ( Companions to None) on dog population and abuse issues in Mexico. She could not (much to my amusement) watch the clip beyond the dog wiping out and so probably will not be viewing the documentary in its finished state.

The second person I asked, also a good friend, is a sales person, father of two, and pet owner.  He was able to bring himself  to watch the whole clip (note the sarcasm) and felt that it wasn't communicating a fundamental problem with racing, but that higher track standards are needed.

In conclusion I would say that since the extremists (as I've seen online) are critical of this project, that is probably a very good indication that it is doing its job well.  I believe I have come to support this project both in the blogosphere and soon via a financial contribution and I hope you consider doing so as well.  I think this documentary could be a wonderful thing for greyhounds and greyhound adoption.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Manswers: Why guys should get greyhounds.

Warning:  All though the following statements are pretty true, they are assembled in a specific crass format designed to emulate the TV show MANSWERS.  Some, if not most, may be offended.

  1.  BRAGGING RIGHTS:  Who knows why, but men like to think their dogs are tough.  The truth is however, that anyone with an ounce of moral fiber would hate for their dog to ever have to prove it.   Who wants to go to court because your dog got in a big fight with another dog?  Now greyhounds aren’t exactly known for being tough. They are known for being fast, athletic, and muscular.  They are elite athletes.  The slowest greyhound is faster than almost any other dog out there.  Plus you know what you are getting before you get it.  The bragging can begin immediately.  Unlike kids, where to live vicariously through them you have to wait 15 to 20 years to see if they amount to anything, a greyhound has already established his record by the time you get him. Let the vicarious living begin.   If you do want a slightly tougher looking dog go for a black or a dark brindle greyhound.  They are just the same as the other greyhounds but less likely to be confused with a deer.
  2. THEY AIN’T SMALL: There are lots of nice small dogs out there, but let’s face it, small dogs are for PURSES.   Guys like BIG dogs.  When you go walking up the street do you want an 11 lb ankle biting Chihuahua hanging on the end of a string, or do you want an 85lb Greyhound that you don’t have to bend over to pet.  Most other larger breeds have short lifespans and problems with hip dysplasia.  But greyhounds are breed for athleticism so no hip worries, plus they live usually from 12-14 years old.
  3.  HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY:  When you get home from a hard day of work, your boss has been riding you all day nothing cheers you up like a big old happy boy who wants nothing more from you than a bit of food, a chance to relieve himself, and to hang out with you for the evening.
  4.  LAID BACK NOT YAPPY: Picture yourself, beer in hand, sitting down to watch the big game or the next big UFC fight.  Do you A) Want a little yappy dog that will not shutup and let you focus on the event, or B) want a BIG greyhound that’s content to sit on the couch beside you while you guzzle chips and beer and cheer for your favorite team.
  5. CHICKS DIG GREYHOUNDS:  When you walk around with greyhounds people come to you like magnets.  When chicks meet greyhounds they immediately fall in love with them.  You are an instant hero because your rescued them from “Untold horrors”.  It doesn’t really matter that they are actually typically well treated while racing. You can tell the woman that … LATER.

Warnings and Disclaimers:  Greyhounds are addictive.   When you get one you will often find yourself with two or three within one years’ time.  Greyhounds are buddies for life.  It is seriously UNCOOL to return a greyhound just because you met a new lady with a hamster who can’t live in the same house as your dog.  Never let a woman come between you and your dog.  If in the future life lets you have kids, find a way to MAKE IT WORK WITH THE DOG.  After all, with your charming personality, you probably wouldn’t even have been able to get the girl if not for your lovable pooch.  People who have returned greyhounds to adoption groups have been known to be spontaneously bagged and pantsed in public by a team of little old ladys.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Full of grey

I don't think my boys could have asked for a better weekend than this.  On Saturday one of the dogs in our grey play group (Beth Ann) and her sister Joanna had a birthday bash at the Factory shopping center.  It was a meet and greet adventure with lots of pups on hand to generate a lot of attention.  Warriors mom was there with her new DSLR to capture some nice photos.  All of the pups got a little ice cream and they had a wonderful time.  Ricky and Kassa were SUPER excited, as we don't do meet and greats that often.  They were pulling on the leash quite a bit to get to the other pups, but settled down as time went on.  We got to see a lot of dear friends, some of whom we don't get to see as often as we should.

Here are the birthday girls now.

Did someone say Ice Cream!

Sunday we had our grey play meet and had a good showing.  Beth Ann, Tequila, Warrior, Java, Ricky Bobby, Kassa, Specs and lastly and happily Army ( who was recently adopted by Army's people).

Army was in fine form running with Ricky

Running with Specs

The dogs traded paint along the fence

Ricky and Army traded paint more than once today.

The guys enjoyed the straightaways as well.

I think Warrior was really happy to be back.

I was going to talk a bit on some of the specific training that we have been doing with Ricky for some of his phobias and stubbornness and loading, but I have had such a wonderful afternoon with my happy healthy pups and their friends, that I think I will save that business for another day.    Hope you all had as much fun this weekend as I and my boys have.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wonder Twin Powers.. Activate

Ricky and Kassa put together their dynamic duo powers to create a very nice weekend.

Saturday morning we all met at the park and went for a walk.  Ricky did very well but wanted to cool off for a bit in the creek.

Sunday morning there was more action as our friends had everyone over for some fun running and socializing.

Then we had a real treat when our friends Dianne and Don showed up with a brand new DSLR camera.  Dianne took family pics of everyone and this is one of my favorites.

Oh.. and dad says not to worry.. because there is still a couple of days before he has to finish up those taxes this year.