Friday, March 18, 2011

A love story

Ours was a November–December romance. I met him on a sunny Sunday afternoon and we both knew immediately that we belonged together.

I lived in Salem and he lived in Gresham. We stole as many afternoons together as we could, knowing that he would soon leave for training.

When our last day together arrived, I arrived Gresham with a heavy heart.

I knew they would do everything they could to keep him safe, but things happened—this could be the last time I saw him.

I entered the kennel building and headed straight for his crate. Flocko was so excited to see me. The kennel building was small and all of the other dogs could see Flocko as he flew out of his crate and wildly jumped up to greet me.

Together we went out to the sprint field so that he could run like the wind—his last run on the Oregon farm.

I hooked up the whirlygig and he chased the old mop head. Leaping in the air toward it, only to have it race out ahead of him.

He grew tired of the whirlygig and raced into the sprint field. He laid down to catch his breath and once again bolted off as if chasing the rain drops that started to fall.

The field was lined with runs filled with greyhounds. To the south were the babies, these guys were nearly five months old now. Flocko slowed down and walked over to the fence.

The babies stood on their hind legs to and touch noses with Flocko. It was as if Flocko was telling them that he would be shipping out the next day—that they too would be leaving the comfort of the Oregon farm.

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.

We want to hear your love story!

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Blueberry said...

*swoon* Like we didn't already love Flocko!

My love story is a long one! My heart was broken after my first Greyhound passed away, and then a month later, I went back to the kennel. I met dozens of dogs, but none were right. Then they offered to let me meet a new dog they'd just gotten in. The tiniest little Greyhound I'd ever seen walked in, leaned against my leg and just gazed at me. I was smitten, and still am almost three years later.

Cherie K. Miller said...

I've never seen a racing greyhound before. These pictures and story were fabulous! Thanks for sharing. I'm dropping by with today's blog hop.

Cherie K. Miller

houndstooth said...

Sorry! Blueberry was me! :P

Mad Red Hare said...

Oh sigh...that is such a good story. We picked out our first love strictly from a photo on the internet. That shy, beautiful KD Tom Sawyer has blossomed from a spook to a goofy lovable boy! But I can say, I never met a greyhound that I didn't love!

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

I fell for Beryl just seeing her head shot photo. She had mischief in her eyes, a cheeky grin, ever so cute freckles and 1 ear up and 1 down:) I had no idea what the rest of her looked like! And it didn't matter, I was hooked. I'm even more hooked having had the pleasure of living with her for almost a year now.

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Oh, and that was an awesome love story about you and the gorgeous Flocko. Thank you:)

Mad Red Hare said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I went to publish your comment and it was gone. Not sure what happened, but thanks for visiting me!

Meg said...

This is such a special story! I love it -- I got all sorts of giddy reading about Flocko and his undying love for his momma.

IHateToast said...

I just had a visitation weekend with my boys (broken fence). Although all the hounds were excited to see me (they all recognise me as a greyhound fan), my boys went the extra bit to show that they were mine: insane yelping from fab stuck on the balcony and omo's stretching to reach and go nose to nose with me.

they're at the mothership where my first dog came from. tamale always recognised cathy no matter how many months or even years went by. it's amazing.

flocko's very handsome.