Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dog-tor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was never really one of my favorites and the reason is a silly one - I could never remember which one was the monster and which one was the good guy. I remember making myself a little reminder note on my bookmark as to which one was which so I could refer back to it when necessary. Even as I write this I'm not really sure I remember correctly.

This weekend was the ASFA Greyhound National Specialty in Moreland, GA. This was a big deal in the coursing community and it was exciting to see more than 30 greyhounds, some from as far away as Colorado, out in an open field, running their hearts out, on a glorious fall day in Georgia.

Leading up to the Specialty, I really didn't plan on running Seka. She was gimpy after running in the backyard and didn't seem to be getting much better. I really hadn't been walking her like I should to build her endurance due to her injury, which could only lead to more injuries or just an embarrassing fat dog on the coursing field. But I decided to take her to Dr. Hottie on Thursday for a few x-rays on the leg that she seemed a bit gimpy on. Once we had the all clear, there was no going back. I can't take Seka to a coursing field and not let her run. She might eat the ex-pen.

That's where Mr. Hyde (I think he's the bad one) comes into play. Lures are just white plastic trash bags tied on a line. Nothing special. No special rabbit scent sprayed on them. No squirrel tails tied to the bags. No special sound for the dog to follow. Just three plain white Hefty bags all tied a few feet apart. So why do white plastic garbage bags flip the switch in so many sighthound brains and turn them into some maniacal, crazy killer who will do anything for a taste of some plastic?

Some say it's the sound that the lure motor makes. It's high pitched to our ears, so it must have some sort of higher frequency to the dogs. Maybe so. But during the group picture on Saturday morning, I accidentally let go of Seka's leash for .1 seconds and she ran over to the non-moving, plastic bag, showing all of her competitors what she planned to do when she caught that "bunny" and embarrassing her mother at the same time. Thank goodness the loose dog fines weren't assessed until the lure was officially in motion or else that stunt would have cost us more than just my pride!

The funny thing is, while Seka is getting all wrapped and preparing to run she is in Dr. Jekyll mode. She lays down on her side and allows me to wrap her legs and pads without any problems. I can touch her toes without a struggle. It's like she is in her calm happy place. When we walk up close to see the lure, she gets excited to see the others run, and her back legs begin to shake. She knows what's going to happen, but still reserves her energy. When I take her to the paddock to wait for our turn, she can hear the lure and even see it if she wanted to, but she calmly lays down. You could equate this to Dr. Jekyll singing "This is the Moment" toward the end of the first act, if you prefer your classics in a musical format.

When we get to the line for our turn to run, she's a bucking bronco. I've not figured out the best way to slip her yet (we use a special slip collar to release them to run). She likes to take a step back before she springs forward, so I've got to get in a position that allows for this, but doesn't all me to slip her too early causing us to be disqualified. This will come with practice and watching other, more experienced handlers.

So tonight, after a long weekend at the field, my second place singles champion greyhound (she tied for second among a field of six), is laying next to me on the sofa in total Dr. Jekyll mode. I wonder what she will do when I unpack the groceries tomorrow night. I better ask for paper, not plastic.

All of these awesome photos were shot by Daniel Gauss, Shot On Site Photography


Amy said...

Seka is gorgeous when she runs, and well, when she's not running, too. Congratulations, Seka on a second place finish! That is fabulous :)

BrittBeah said...

I love the last pic of her in that up in the air C shape. It looks so cool. The pics are awsome. Congrats!

IHateToast said...

those are great photos.

i think greyhounds are the most concerned about the planet and see the lure as plastic bags about to hit the waterways and choke the dolphins, turtles, and sperm whales (i just wanted to type sperm). they want desperately to get the bags and to put them in the bin. that's why you use plastic bags and not canvass totes or paper sacks.

you're welcome.

Maria Peters said...



Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

Wow, those photos are awesome!! I might have to make Nut run one of these days to get some good photos like that...
I heard Roxie hurt her wittle paw?:-( Door/toe jam?

Addie said...

Those photos are beautiful!

Bach said...

Hey Heather,

I have never seen a Greyhound perform obedience during the run-up. To take the time to touch the cone, then continue on after the bag....what dedication!

As for the slipping, I always kept one hand on the slip lead and the other arm under the stomach. That way, if they started to back up, I could lift the rear legs slightly off the ground.

Glad to finally meet you in person!


Zan said...

The pictures are wonderful Heather. Congrats on her second place singles and on certing too!! It was good to see you Sunday. Will you be at the CHASE trial in Cartersville?

ihatetoast - I love your theory. that must be the reason for the plastic bag obsession!! LMAO!!

pattysea said...

Terrific photos of Seka ...
She looks so beautiful when running. Where was Roxy?