Springtime in Oklahoma – Greyhounds are on the Move
As told by Teddy Palmer, Founder, Halfway Home Greyhound Adoption
April 30, 2011
Sixty-five adoptable greyhounds are on their way from Oklahoma to various points in the Pacific Northwest where they will find forever homes with the help of local adoption groups.
How this came about is a testament to the good that comes of trust, collaboration and planning between all facets of the greyhound community.
Oklahoma and Kansas are home to a number of greyhound farms – specialized kennels that are built specifically to suit greyhound housing, breeding and training needs. Some of these farms have been in families for generations, their members bound by a profound love for, and deep knowledge of the breed. Human genealogists would be in awe of their understanding of bloodlines going back over 100 years (a long time when you consider the average lifespan of a greyhound is 10 – 12 years).
They are also home to racers who have returned to the farm when their careers ended, and brood mammas and studs whose parenting days are over; all ready to move to new, forever homes.
An adoption group based in Tulsa, OK, Halfway Home Greyhound Adoption (HHGA), which celebrated its 9th birthday this year, works with greyhound farmers in both states to move their hounds into adoption. This close working relationship has given HHGA first-hand knowledge of the commitment these hard-working individuals have to placing their beloved hounds into homes.
It is a process that can take time – most of these dogs are moved to adoption groups out-of-state. They must wait until a group has room to take them, and they cannot travel during the long winter months. It is not unusual for a farm to care for their retirees anywhere from one to 18 months, waiting for a spot to open up.
Which brings us back to the haul as it’s called, of the 65 hounds heading to the Northwest. There are many other hauls that leave HHGA for various parts of the US during the spring, but this is by far the largest and longest, and it requires extensive advance planning and coordination between HHGA, the farmers, and the receiving adoption groups.
The dogs need to be assembled at a few collection points. They need a midnight meal to tide them over during their journey, and several turnouts to relieve themselves and get a good stretch before they start their trip. It is an all-night job for the folks getting them ready. And then, in early morning, the hounds and their paperwork are loaded up for the trip. They travel with heat or air conditioning as environmental conditions dictate. Entrusted with this precious cargo is the driver who will be traveling long hours through all kinds of terrain and weather. For several years now that person has been John Holman, a very experienced and caring greyhound hauler.
John is a devoted family man who has a long history with, and a great love for greyhounds. His services are much in demand because of his well-earned reputation for reliability and safety. On the current haul going through mountain passes John encountered strong head winds and heavy snow. You want someone of steady character and solid experience at the wheel in those conditions. And, according to plan, the first group of happy hounds was delivered on time into the waiting arms of adoption group volunteers, a scene that will be repeated several times in the course of the journey.
As you might imagine, in addition to all the logistics, such a haul takes money. This one was funded by an auction whose items were donated by, bid on, and won by greyhound adopters, farmers and racing enthusiasts.
Teddy Palmer, founder of HHGA and the driving force behind its successful mission, said she found donations on her porch – dropped off by local farmers who wanted to help. The donations that drew the greatest interest came from an elderly “dog man”. Here is the story in Teddy’s own words:
“Two years ago a lady called me and asked if she could bring her grandfather to our kennel. Not to adopt but just to pet the greyhounds. He had grown up on a greyhound farm and loved the greys.
Once each month she picks him up at his nursing home and they come with his wheelchair and stay one to two hours. I let the greys come to the front of the kennel and he pets them and talks sweet talk. Always brings treats and tells me about his boyhood and how they camped with the greys on the road from track to track. It is an 80 mile trip for him, and the highlight of his month. This morning he came with a box of items to help the greys find a home. I could tell he cherished everything in his box . . .”
There are many stories maligning the greyhound “industry” and its people. But anyone who takes the time to look a little deeper will find a community overwhelmingly passionate about their dogs and devoted to their welfare and eventual placement into adoption.
This story of the Northwest haul is an important example of that commitment, and the good that comes when racing and adoption folks work together in mutual respect and trust to benefit the greyhounds they all love so much.
The Northwest haul was completed successfully – all hounds safely delivered to their destinations. We wish Mr. Holman a well-deserved rest followed by a safe trip home.