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Greyhounds

Rocky’s 2021 Reunion

James River Greyhounds, our Eastern Virginia greyhound adoption charity held its 2021 picnic in early October. JRG placed a record 166 greyhounds in 2020.

Including me.

Saturday October 2, Rocky, Missy, and Dismal Wizard clambered aboard Das Auto to make the 2+ hour trip to Mechanicsville Virginia where James River Greyhounds, https://jamesrivergreyhounds.org/ was having its first reunion of the COVID-19 era. In 2020, public health travel restrictions canceled that year’s reunion.

Rocky was a good traveler. I stopped trying to ride shotgun or in the driver’s lap. But I did stand from home to Williamsburg, about half the trip.

Anyway, Siri got us there, eventually. Badly mispronouncing the the Native American named road. And she tried to take us in at the far end of the circle where there were 5 county roads and a couple of private farm roads to confuse us. None of these were identified using the the name Siri was mumbling. Great fun. Anyway, we doubled back after giving her a stern lecture she pretended not to understand.

It Was a Typical Reunion

Our gathering was a typical greyhound picnic with food, silly contests, vendors selling wares, and did I say food. And cake! and Ice cream. We had a perfect day, cool with sun and a breeze. And shade! This frame is from a pan around the largish lawn. Off camera to the right, the terrain drops to another field this size. The residence back garden is fenced for dog prowling with multiple wading pools set up.

People and dogs everywhere

We all roamed around chatting dogs before settling in a shady spot.

There were marshmallow runs!

While we were training on the farm and at the track kennel, we would do speed work every now and again. We would go to a long, narrow run. At the far end, a trainer squawked a squawker. The trainer minding us would slip us and we would run buster to the squawker. The squawker operator would produce a marshmallow. We’d eat our marshmallow and catch our breath. Then we’d be called back to the start by squawker and receive a second bribe.

Marshmallow run still

While publicist was putting this together, he was editing the video to extract these stills. As the video played, foolishly with the sound up, I started going crazy and demanding bribes. The squawking recalls some pretty powerful memories as it was used a fair bit to get us to run. There was a way to rig it on the lure machine so it would squawk….

James River Greyhound needs donations

Anyway, we had fun and I had Dismal Wizard start a monthly donation to JRG as they are running a loss this year. With COVID-19 and the end of live wagering in Florida, the economics of adoption have changed. While wagering was on, the track would fund the spay or neutering procedure. This year, the dogs are donated in tact and the adoption charity now has to have the dental, spay, and neuter done in the area. A local veterinary surgery practice does the procedure and the dental at a substantial discount. But, that is still $600.

In the past, the subsidy allowed JRG enough margin to do the occasional orthopedic repair with organization funds. This is proving no longer possible so the group takes donations to cover corrective surgery. To remain financially sound, the group’s directors are considering a fee increase for future adoptions.

Live Racing is in Decline

The JRG principals expect to continue as long as greyhounds need homes. JRG has replaced its Florida sources with West Virginia sources, the nearest state where live wager racing is allowed. Arkansas and Iowa continue to offer on site wagering.

In the US, it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate a live racing venue. Attendance is declining and revenues are 1/3 what they were at the start of the century. On-line gaming and casino table games and slot machines are drawing the gambling audience away from the track.

And We are Different…

There ain’t no stinking breed standard and show judging is Swiss timing machinery and video order of finish. Racers are bred to be keen to chase, intelligent, social, and of sound structure and health. The result is a dog that does well in groups getting on well with people and other dogs. We are generally easy going and un-reactive. It takes us a few days to decide to keep you and about 3-4 months to become fully integrated into the household.

,Most of us are adolescents or young adults at the start of companion life so we are still growing up and growing into our adult personalities. About 1/3 have run in the show, coming home at 4 years of age. The rest of us couldn’t get the hang of racing are offered for adoption at about 2 years of age. At 2 we are pretty much adolescents. At 3 we are young adults. At 4 we are pretty much adults. Some of us, like me, take a bit longer to become an adult. I’m still pretty silly and need some toy play.

As adults, we tend to be less juvenile than other dogs and we’re generally lay about needing little activity unlike the live stock herding dogs, field dogs, and terriers. We also have an independent streak. We like nothing better than doing something with you but are likely to hit the couch when you try to get us to do something for you. Training us is largely a matter of making the right thing easy and rewarding us for doing it. We/re not suck ups but we do like some approval and notice.