Friday, May 18, 2012


A bit of greyhound history focusing on the 1977 American Derby and what stands to be lost forever if Grey2K USA (Grey2K) is successful in its efforts to outlaw greyhound racing.
There is a lot of history associated with greyhounds and greyhound racing. There are some great dog names- Downing, Dutch Bahama, Real Huntsman, Oklahoman... All that history is in danger of being lost as the "old timers" retire and pass on... if Grey2K USA succeeds in destroying greyhounds, greyhound people, and greyhound racing.

Here is a post that Dennis (A.K.A. "Rockingship") posted on Global Greyhounds on October 3, 2003 on a thread entitled, "The State of the Stud Business the Next Three Years":

"Don Cuddy always said that Downing was the fastest 550 yard dog he ever saw, and he saw a lot of them. There were a select group of greyhounds of whom he always spoke reverentially....Downing was one of them. Downing was called "Handyman" because he was always by Jim Frey's side as a youngster--always "handy".

As a racer, he was intolerant of other greyhounds, except for Chito, who, for some reason, he liked. Chito himself was a good grade A at Revere at the time. And he was Downing's turnout partner during the time Downing campaigned in New England.

I remember one day after the morning's festivites were nearly over, there was a telephone call to the kennel. I could hear Don's voice faintly from the kitchen....."....oh Jay-sus.....when did it happen?"....I heard some homilies and some condolences, he said goodbye and hung up.

".......well, he's gone". I could see in his eyes that Don himself was now somewhere else, in his own mind.....watching a long red brindle blur accelerate into the first turn as if he alone were not subject to the burdens of gravity, and unfazed by the shackles of his own flesh...Downing's only real competition, if the truth be known, was his own mortality.

These are my personal recollections of Downing's Amercian Derby win.....

And guys...I remember Downing's American Derby .....he was a prohibitive favorite....after making the switch to the other side, he had literally run away and hid from the best dogs that the country's elite kennels might offer up as competition---or as sacrifice----it hadn't really mattered..........

He was a sharp breaker, and an astonishing turn runner-----and though nearly 80 lbs, and as long as the Kansas horizon is wide----he could literally run "under the rails"....and accelerate into, through and off the turns----and if, by some stroke of serendipity, you found yourself ahead of him, on the rail and in his way----he would put you over the rail to take his line.

So the ONLY way he could lose, was if he broke down, or if he missed his break.....and you know what?...... he missed his break----missed it by a mile....and he came out with his nose in the dirt, stumbling---nearly falling----and the entire field easily out-trapped the fast-trapper.

There was a collective gasp from the incredulous crowd. Luckily, the 2 lane had not quite closed up on him.

Gifted athlete that he was---in the blink of an eye---he somehow, miraculously, managed to right himself----and exploded through the hole which had remained open to him.

He had seized the lead before they even hit the turn, and drew off to a commanding advantage as he poured it on---like a soundwave.... through the stretch, around the curtain turn, and past the toteboard-----his speed was enthralling, unlike anything I had ever witnessed----it thumped right through your chest, and took your breath away... like the music of a runaway locmotive......yet due to his early miscalculations and exertions, he was pretty much spent at the top of the lane....all alone.......and all done.....

He had lost his action, and his stride was shortening with each diminutive leap forward...and at precisely that most desperate of moments----that sobering, split-second before the shattering of every illusion---- the great stayer---Malka---had begun to uncork her prodigious run.....which was as deep as the Pacific...and at once, as powerful and unfathomable.

The insurmountable lead was shrinking fast now, to about 6 lengths entering the final straight---- and Malka appeared to have caught the jetstream itself, as she zeroed in on him----with Downing laboring mightily, just to keep a straight line----the deafening roar of the 12,000 or so spectators, who had come to see a legend his own and their own time... lent an air of unreality to the whole, desperate spectacle...

And time itself had become glacial, as it they played out that age-old struggle.....and... with the one, impossible, outrageous, colossal surge ---Downing lunged for the wire....the ghosts of Real Huntsman, Oklahoman and On the Line were awakened from their eternal reveries by the sheer genius of rightly bear witness to this galvanizing moment, for once and for all time ... as Malka, a burgeoning, bursting tidal wave now ----bore down on him, cresting, from mid-track to his flank.... closer and closer she rolled.....

That he managed, somehow, to hold on---by a dissipating 3/4 of a length or so---was the true measure of his faultless courage and his supernatural greatness....Malka was past him a couple of jumps after the wire, and clear by 3 as they ran up to the curtain.

It was the only moment in his life---the very instant when he had actually grasped his immortality----- that he had ever appeared to be mortal ."

I searched long & wide for video of Downing's 1977 American Derby and I could not find any. However, I found the little gem below that encompasses much more of the American Derby history... It gives a run down of all the winners, to date. You see, when greyhound racing ceased in New England, the American Derby ceased. It was last won in 2007.  Happily, after that hiatus, the race will once again be held this year. Yeah!!!!

Grey2K and its minions love to crow that they are succeeding in shutting down the "cruelty of greyhound racing".  They are not shutting down anything that is cruel. They are destroying history and destroying people. That is what they are so proud of...  destruction & hate.

Retired greyhounds make such great pets because of how they are raised. If it weren't for greyhound racing and the people to whom these dogs are constantly exposed & socialized with, the dogs would not be what they are.  Greyhounds are what they are because of racing...  If racing goes away, then so will the dogs that we all know & love.

Remember, extinction is forever.

Yours in greyhounds...


  1. if thats true about racing making greys how they are than it made mine scared of life and constantly nervous. thanks to the lovely people who abused her while they were racing her. it took me over 2 years to even be able to walk her or take her outside to go to the bathroom without her having a nervous breakdown and hurting herself trying to get back inside.

    1. We try to NOT publish comments that are left without a name because we believe if people make comments they need to have the courage to stand behind them. However, your comment needs to be addressed because it ASSUMES many things.

      Just because a greyhound may come to you with scars and behavior problems, those scars do not mean, they are not reliable indicators that a dog has been abused.

      Shyness exists in the breed. Shyness may be genetic, it may be based in illness (hypothyroid), or it may come from a lack of socialization. Regardless, it indicates a dog with a serious lack of confidence. In general, those dogs do not make good racing dogs for a variety of reasons and they seldom make the track, being petted out at a young age.

      Shy dogs tend to be afraid of everything from loud noises to people to anything that is different for them: hats, hoses, bicycles, etc. These dogs ONLY FEEL SAFE in their crate, regardless of if that crate is an actual dog crate or a house. It has NOTHING to do with abuse, contrary to what you have obviously been told and believe.

      Even though I do not know the situation surrounding your particular dog, I would venture to say that your attitude has not helped. Inadvertently, in your efforts to make her feel more secure, possibly through baby talking her, you have reinforced the undesired behaviors. That is a very common mistake that people make with dogs, regardless of breed. What is sad is the ONLY WAY to help this dog is by encouraging it and praising it, instilling some confidence in it. I love this quote,

      "You cannot force a dog to be brave. You can only encourage him through praise and leadership."

      Here is a page that may help you with your dog - It offers training suggestions specifically geared to shy dogs. Please read it.

  2. Personalities in Greyhounds are certainly varied, from all out joy to the spooky timids and everything in between. Because these dogs are raised WITH their littermates, those personalilites are the result of perfectly natural dog learning behaviors. In fact, a timid Greyhound probably had the inclination to be timid In Utero.

    The alpha pup will be the one that shoves all his (or her) brothers and sisters out of the way on a quest for the tastiest mom-snack. Even blind and barely mobile, these pups jostle and quarrel for the finest spot on mommys breast. The one that gets jostled the most is not being made timid... he (or she) already was.

    As they grow, this basic personality grows too. The alpha pup will be MORE alpha, the timid will be more shy. The best we can do is intervene where the bullying is overdone, and encourage our timids to be more confident. Because we want our dogs to be proud and secure in themselves, we do this.

    It is often the transition from the known and safe atmosphere of the racing routine (dogs thrive on routines) to the completely foreign life of retirement, that will cause timid behaviors to re-emerge, in large and exaggerated doses. You can help your dog feel more secure by providing an unerringly constant routine.

  3. Shyness exists in all dogs. Often times it is hereditary. There are books written that support that. There are lots of specific examples as well. One of my dogs is a now 7 year lab mix from a shelter. I have had her since she was a young puppy (7-8 weeks old). She has only know goodness and love her entire life. She has NEVER been abused. She is a very shy dog who gets startled easily. Somteimes if I move too quickly or hold/carry something when she is with me, she tries to get away and is scared. She acts like a dog who has been abused when in fact she never has been and I know since she has been with me her entire life. She and I train and compete in dog sports and that has given her tremendous confidence. She's still a shy dog, but she process through it much quicker and continues on bravely.

    Yes, sometimes shyness is environmental, but more often than not, it's hereditary.

    One of my other dogs (a grey) is a very shy girl. She was a bounce (returned to an adoption group). She only has less than a handful of races to her name. She went to live with a nice family but proceeded to stay off by herself, not wanting much interaction. They never mistreated her and they let her be. She had another greyhound as a companion. After having her and the other grey for several years, they returned her to our greyhound group. I met and fell in love with her sweet shy little self. Well, 1 1/2 years later she is still shy, but from spending time with me and my dogs and from having an active life, her shyness has gone down considerably. I keep her former family apprised of the things she does now, the places we go and the people she meets--they are flabbergasted that it's the same dog.

    Sometimes people reward shy, nervous behavior by the way they act and treat the dog when the dog is afraid. Me, I'm there for my dogs. They know I'm not going to let anything bad happen to them, but I also don't reward shy behavior. I reward curiosity and confidence. It's so uplifting and rewarding to see a shy dog tries new things and is willing to meet new people.

    I see shyness as endearing and I like helping a shy dog come out of their shell.


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