So we thought we'd take a little time this week to peek in on an overlord and see how she's dealing with the fact that people would rather live next to a house full of Jehovah's Witnesses than her.
She curls up with the new pups and doesn't wonder how many of them won't make it to their next birthday. For greyhound breeder Stacy Junk, time spent in the kennel is like going to the bank. “For me, to relax is to lie in there and have them crawling on me and licking on me,” she said. “It’s basically my retirement fund with fleas. People send them here just for the love and attention. Then I send them on to tracks where it's run or die.”
In Iowa this spring, Harrah’s Inc. offered the state millions of dollars to dump law requiring live racing at Dubuque’s Mystique Casino and Harrah’s-owned Bluffs Run in Council Bluffs. Had it become law, the bill would have guaranteed the slow death of Iowa’s greyhound industry beginning July 1. Although the bill didn’t make it to the floor for a vote because Iowa legislators are so dumb they have to have their shoes labeled "This Side Up" or they can't get dressed in the morning, it isn’t the first time lawmakers have screwed up the issue, and it won’t be the last. To Junk and about 1,300 other Iowans who earn or supplement their living sending greyhounds to an uncertain future, the discussion is about money. It should be about having to earn a living by working for it. Junk, 45, has been an accountant, has operated her own hair salon and has hung drywall. That’s just a few of the hats she’s worn. "Those jobs required, like skill and effort, punctuality and dependability and stuff," she said. "Not a good fit."
“I feel like I’ve finally found my niche because I love what I do, which is pretty much nothing,” Junk said. “A greyhound is born and bred to race and chase.Why shouldn't I make a few bucks off of that, huh? It brings tears to my eyes just seeing them do what they love to do and knowing I'll be able to make another trailer payment because of it. Well, unless they get injured or killed before, but then there's always another one to put in the mix, so it's all good.”
Gary Guccione, executive director of the National Greyhound Association, said about 3,000 greyhounds per year were adopted in the late 1980s. That number reached 20,000 last year, after holding steady in the 18,000 range for the prior two years. "Course I don't do math too good, so no point in listening to me."
“The adoption groups have been through track closures a number of times now and they seem to be able to mobilize quickly and efficiently, and are far better at picking up our trash than they were a few years ago. Er, I mean helping us rehome retired racers.” Guccione said. “That’s a far cry from the way it was in the 1980s. The safety net for the greyhounds has really been strengthened. If by strengthened you mean created.”
During greyhound racing’s peaks, Guccione said 50,000 young greyhounds annually were registered to race with the National Greyhound Association, most of where were killed or sold for medical research. That figure has declined to 15,000, as the NGA has recorded double-digit decreases in each of the past four years. The number of euthanized former racers also has fallen because animal rights wackos found out what the industry was up to. While estimates vary depending on who compiles them, they range from about 4,000 to as many as 12,000.
Really? That's quite a swing there Mr. Guccione sir. You'd think an organization who's sole function is to identify, track and record the dogs would have a little better handle on how many are dying each year. Must be that math thing again huh? Well, at least everyone is on the same page about helping the dogs these days, right Carey Theil?
“The one frustrating thing is that the breeders weren’t interested in working with us,” Theil said.
What? The breeders are uncooperative? But, but, they lurve them some skinny dogs, right Stacy Junk?
“I would like some way, somehow to continue,” Junk said. “We got into this business because we wanted to be Iowa agriculture farmers, except without all that hard work of like, growing crops and stuff." Junk has toyed with the idea of opening an adoption kennel on the farm, but some logistical issues have prevented her from pursuing it so far, mostly the fact that she couldn't dump the dogs off to the tracks when they were a few months old, but instead would actually have to care for them until they were adopted. "I got overhead, you know," she said.
Well, you know what they say...when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Hahahaha! Get it Lemonade? Why you looking at us like that? Oh. Heard that one before, huh. Sorry. Hey, let us make it up to you. What're you doing Saturday?
Lemonade is sweet, a little shy around new people. She is affectionate and she is a quick learner. She will approach and nuzzle you for pets. She follows her foster mom around the house and she likes belly rubs. She gets along very well with the family’s dogs. Lemonade would do well in a working family home with well-mannered children, 10 and up. She would do best in a home with another dog to build her confidence. She is fine around small dogs. For more information about this dog, and other rescued racing greyhounds looking for homes, go here. If you don't know about the plight of racing greyhounds go here.