02. December 2004 · Comments Off on Race for Adoption · Categories: General

wigwam angela Casey

As the happy companion of two retired racing greyhounds (that’s Angie on the left, and Casey on the right. Angie is a retired brood, as well), I have a special place in my heart for these wonderful skinny-legged dogs, and the folks who work so hard to keep them fit and trim so they can perform at their very best athletic peak, as well as the folks who work so hard to find them homes when their racing career is over.

There is lots of greyhound information available on the internet, and not all of it is accurate. Some websites persist in perpetuating urban legends, and/or decades-old horror stories that villify people or businesses, either because they believe them to still be true, or because they want to eliminate greyhound racing. Other sites will tell you that there are no abuses in the system, that all dogs are well-treated, and no bad apples exist in the industry. As always, the truth lies somewhere in between those 2 extremes.

This post is not about the controversies. This post is about the dogs, and about a unique partnership between some NGA breeders/trainers (one in particular) and the folks who are interested in furthering greyhound adoption. It’s a partnership that deserves to be shouted from the hilltops, and shared across the land, not just in the somewhat isolated sphere of greyhound message boards.

Last May, Dennis McKeon, a former greyhound trainer who is fascinated by all things greyhound, and passionate about the history and breeding of the racing greyhound, was pondering the career of an Irish greyhound named Late Late Show, whose entire racing career had been dedicated to supporting greyhound adoption. He started chatting with a friend about how wonderful it would be to do a similar thing in the US, with a greyhound racing in the name of greyhound adoption, and the proceeds going to benefit the adoption programs. In Dennis’ words,

I ran this idea by Larry Birnbaum, who is the owner of one of the most promising and accomplished young sires
in American Racing Greyhound breeding today—-the beautiful and mercurial Craigie Whistler , winner of the 2001 Derby Lane Sprint Classic. I was hoping Larry might be able to steer me to a nice, promising litter—-maybe even one of Whistler’s.

I was totally unprepared for his reaction; “I would be happy to raise a track-ready pup at my expense. I would then sign ownership rights to you. Then you could sell this pup to the group and I’ll race it at Southland or Wheeling in our kennel at a 50% payout.” Larry is the co-owner of C&C Kennel which has bookings at both tracks.

Thus, Race for Adoption (RFA) was born.

Dennis posted his conversation on a couple greyhound message boards, with a request for participants to join a consortium. He was hoping to sell 50 shares, and the money raised would be split between two adoption programs: one in the Florida Panhandle, and one in New Jersey. The greyhound community was stepping up to the plate, buying shares in the consortium (25 in the first day after the initial posting), when Larry Birnbaum dropped another bombshell on us.

Two days after Dennis first told us about Larry’s generosity, we had 37 shares pledged for purchase (with a goal of at least 50). Larry was keeping track of what was going on, and he posted an offer on the message boards, stating that he would match the contributions for the first 100 shares sold. Since the shares were selling at $100 each, this meant he was not only going to donate a pup with good bloodlines, and the expense of raising/training said pup until it was ready to race, but he was also going to add $10,000 cash into the mix.

The remaining shares were sold in record time, and two adoption groups received checks for $10,000 each. A website was setup for the consortium members to keep informed on what was going on with “their” pup, and Larry donated one of Craigie Whistler’s offspring, a promising young lad named Whistler’s Stud. Unfortunately, there were some track quarantines this summer due to kennel cough, so Larry then shared the proceeds from one of his girls who was already racing at Wheeling, also a descendent of the ever impressive Whistler’s Craigie. Whistler’s Betty runs regularly at Wheeling, and 1/2 of all her proceeds go into the pot for the two adoption groups. Originally a temporary replacement, she became the permanent RFA hound when Stud had some setbacks during his training.

In the 6 months since Dennis first posited his idea, Race For Adoption has contributed over $28,000 to the two greyhound adoption groups. Twenty grand of that came from the initial sale of shares, and Larry’s generous matching contribution, but the rest has come from Betty’s winnings, t-shirt sales, and other donations.

But the story doesn’t end there. It just gets better.

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