by Betty Zubritsky
There are guards at the gate. We must be hiding something.
A couple years ago, that awful wife swap program approached one of our members with a proposal. “Hey! Let’s do a wife swap! We’ll plop a rabid AR woman in your race kennel and film the whole thing for fun and profit. Ya wanna?” No idea what our wife would be doing, beyond trying to educate the uneducable. On the surface of this thing, if you didn’t give it a solitary moment of thought, if you relied entirely on knee-jerk reaction… it sounded like fun. Yes indeed, let’s get that nasty broad in here and make her shake beds and pick up the yards and can you see her up to her elbows in a feed tub or getting beat up in the turnout??? Oh boy oh boy oh boy, there were people itching to get her in their kennel. And then I brought them all back to the reality of what this would be.
“There will be a film crew, with lights and noise and disruption In Your Race Kennel. That all by itself is bad enough. Your dogs will stress, your routine will be gone, your nerves will be frazzled, your races will be shot to shit. And then you have this negative person, this hateful, wants-you-dead-no-matter-what-
Everybody went silent, and the proposal did not get accepted. Thank goodness. Can you imagine???
Maybe you can’t. I understand that there are “mysteries” here, and the only way to know what goes on is to see it for yourself. What a catch 22 it is, because we can’t just fling open our doors and let you on in.
Well, why the crap not?
The easy answer is “this is a place of business. You can’t give yourself a tour here any more than you can at a manufacturing plant, or a grocery store, or a lawyers office”. But it goes far beyond that. We are severely regulated by the state racing commission. Their mission is multi-faceted. First and foremost, to protect the dogs and the interests of their owners. Second, to protect the gaming public. Every single thing in a race kennel shall be approved and permitted by the state. That includes people. It’s why licensing is required. I can’t even have aspirin in there if the state says I can’t. So if you want to come for a visit, you’re a whole lot bigger and harder to contain than an aspirin. With all the proper paperwork completed, which puts my ass on the line, I can bring you into my kennel. For a visit. It ain’t forever. I need to trust you completely, because you will be close to my dogs.
I call them mine. They are, in fact, of a variety of owners. They are In My Care in this kennel, and I am responsible for their daily lives. Their owners rely on me to keep them fit and happy and competitive. I can only do that if I know exactly what is in their enviroment at all times. So you can’t come in here with coffee, or chocolate. You can’t be using some whacko hand lotion that contains steroids. You sure as shit can’t have just cultivated your pot plants. And you can’t come in here with any negativity. None.
Dogs are wondrous beings. There isn’t anything that loves the way they do. They love to be and they love to do and they love to sleep and play. And they love you like you are the light in their sky.. the very center of their world. There’s nothing better than a dog.
Those of us who rely on Greyhounds for our livelihoods know very well who they are. It is our job to know… and it is our pleasure. I know of very few, if any, professions that permit such intimate relationships with the now and forever of the trade. These are the living and breathing proof of our dedication, and we touch the future every moment of our lves.
So even if we weren’t quite so strictly regulated, we might be (and we are) awfully fussy about who comes in. It isn’t about “hiding”, any more than it’s “hiding” when you lock your front door at night. It’s protecting what is the most precious thing in the whole wide world.