Friday, December 15, 2006

The Reunion

Nearly two years had passed since I felt his thick puppy coat and he had gone to Oklahoma for training. Feeling quite anxious I boarded the red-eye from Portland to Ft. Myers, Florida.

I wondered what our reunion would be like. Would he remember me? How much did time change? He was a puppy the last time I saw him and now, he was a racing greyhound.

Even though I was tired from the flight, I was excited to go to the kennel. Unlike the farm in Oregon, the kennel building at the track was long, nearly 70 kennels, double-stacked lined the walls. It was turn-out time and most of the dogs were out in the turn-out pen.

It was 2 p.m. on a Florida afternoon in December. The air was hot and muggy and the hint of dog urine filtered through the air.

Greyhounds were digging, loitering around the water buckets and just laying around—resting up for a race or practicing for retirement.

From out of no where, Flocko appeared. He saw me enter the building and even after two years, knew me the moment he saw me. He stayed by my side the entire time I was there. Leaving me only for brief moments.

I bought Flocko to be my race dog, so that I could see the racing side of the greyhound industry, thinking I would be able to see him run in Portland. The next month racing ended in Oregon and although I could watch the replays of his races, I never saw him run. He was a decent runner and faithfully sent his paychecks home every week.

The day I arrived, the day of our reunion, Flocko had a race.

Weigh-in time arrived and Flocko proudly donned his #1 red racing silk and muzzle. The greyhounds lined up, noses pointed forward. Not Flocko, he turned his butt to the door and never took his eyes off of me. I thought “Holy shit, this dog is going to stop in the middle of the track to wave to mommy.”

The lead-outs took the dogs down to the starting box and suddenly, my adoring dog had become all business and he was ready to run.

The lure raced around the track and the dogs released. Like a shot, Flocko was at the head of the pack, leaving nothing but a wake of sand and seven other greyhounds behind him.