|Farm Life||The First 4 Months|
|The Expecting Brood Matron||5-11 Months|
|Whelping Puppies||12-17 Months|
12 to 14 Months
At 12 to 14 months the greyhounds are moved inside a 18' x 36' kennel room to simulate the lifestyle at a racetrack. The litter is back together again, but with two or three other litter groups. Each greyhound is housed in a wire crate that is 33" wide, 43" deep, and 32" high. The wire crates are stacked one row above the other. Females are taught to jump into the upper crates. A greyhound's crate is their home and it serves as their retreat to safety and security. The greyhounds really enjoy spending time in their crate as it provides a sense of comfort.
They aren't just there to learn to race but also to become accustomed to the whole racing environment, learn some discipline and get used to a basic schedule of 4 or 5 turnouts a day and running twice a week. The siblings will be in separate crates but are still together at turnouts and know their bothers and sisters are nearby. The dogs will live in this kennel for four to eight months while they go through the various levels of training from running in a coursing or sprint field, to learning to chase a lure with the use of a "Whirlygig" to running on a real track. (A Whirlygig has a long arm allowing a lure to be suspended over a small circular track and this is the first time the pups run in circles as they will on a track.) This period of training is called "finishing."
The greyhounds sleep in crates that have a plywood floor with a 3/4" hard rubber mat on top of the plywood. Some kennels use carpet rugs with additional shredded paper to keep them comfortable. Each greyhound has its name taped above the crate door and on its muzzle. The muzzles hang from snaps on their crate doors. The kennel room is air conditioned and a radio is usually playing around the clock. The greyhounds are fed once per day at about 9AM and they get a snack in the evening. The greyhounds sleep in several different positions; some sleep stretched out, some sleep curled up, some sleep in the back of the crate, some sleep in the front of the crate, some sleep upside down with all fours pointed up, some sleep with their heads buried under the shredded paper. The bottom line is, greyhounds love to rest!
The greyhounds are "turned-out" four times per day for 45-60 minutes each time. We have two turn-out pens. Each pen is 30' x 30'. The greyhounds -are muzzled as they are turned-out. During turn-out, the paper is "fluffed" in their crates and they are cleaned as necessary. The floor is swept when the dogs are turned out. If only one person is working turn-out, they constantly listen for any disturbance from the dogs. If two people are working turn-out, one person stays in the pen with the dogs. Life in the turn-out pen can be boring at times, or it can be extremely active. The feces are picked up in the turn out and the water buckets are cleaned and refilled. During these chores, the dogs are watched to make sure there is order and no dog-fights. The condition of a dog's stool will usually tell the farmer whether the food is proper, whether a dog is sick, whether a dog has worms, or just generally whether something is wrong.
Keeping order is sometimes a challenge in the turnout. (As well as in the kennel) There are sometimes 20-30 dogs together in close proximity of each other and the personalities of the greyhounds can vary to extremes. After turn-out its "rush-the-door-time" to get back into their crates. The greyhounds enter the kennel running, prancing, wagging their tails, barking, and running around the kennel room. Most will head straight for their crate door and wag their tails to get back into their crates. Some females have to playfully run around the kennel room a time or two before jumping up into their crates. Then they turn and look at the handler before shutting the crate door; waiting for their head and ears to be rubbed.
The greyhounds are loaded into a dog trailer and hauled to the training track once per week from the time they are 12 to 14 months old. They are taken to the training track twice per week from the time they are 14 months to when they leave for the racetrack. When the dog trailer is backed into place, the greyhounds get real excited to go to the training track. They will bark, bite at the crate door, paw, wag their tails, and almost jerk one's arm out of place when they are on the lead just to get to the dog trailer. They gradually develop into racers (a few do not).-
At about 15-16 months the greyhounds really progress in their training by picking up speed and endurance.
This is the time that the greyhounds must go to the racetrack. Sometimes the greyhounds are photographed before they leave the farm and they are loaded into the dog hauler's truck to start their journey. Some farmers will send a note to the kennel trainer at the racetrack telling them about anything of importance for each dog.
Registering Greyhounds To Race
All racing greyhound breedings are required to be reported to the NGA within 10 days from breeding. The breeding is reported on an NGA Notification Of Breeding form. A $10 fee (for NGA members) must accompany this notification. As stated, the NGA returns a Breeding Acknowledgment that among other things, includes a five digit number. The number is really a breeding number at that point in time. However, the number does become the litter registration number at a later date and is the number tattooed in the left ear of each pup.
Some 75 days after the breeding, one must file a Notification Of Whelping with the NGA. A normal female whelps 63-65 days after conception. Add 10 days to arrive at 75 days. The whelping is reported on an NGA Notification Of Whelping form. A $7 fee (for NGA members) must accompany this notification. The whelping report verifies what happened as a result of the breeding, there are four possible answers on the NGA form. The first is that puppies were "whelped". The second is that the breeding "missed". The third is that the pregnancy was "aborted". The fourth is that something "other" happened (in case the female dies or gets killed). If puppies were whelped, one must indicate on the whelping report the number of males and females and the sex and color of each. This sets the maximum number of racing greyhounds that can later be individually registered from the reported breeding.
By the end of 90 days after the date of whelping, one must file an Application for Registration of Litter. Again this is reported on NGA forms. A $7 fee (for NGA members) must accompany this application. The forms are very detailed and involved. First the form(s) requires a four sided bertillon "picture" of each pup, complete with color indications, markings, spots, scars, or other distinguishing features. Also required for each pup is the color (light, dark, or horn) of each of its 16 toenails, and color and markings of each foot. Sex of each pup must also be indicated. In addition, one must tattoo the paper next to each pup's bertillon the same as the pup's ear (at the same time one has the forceps ready to tattoo the pup). The NGA returns a Litter Registration Acknowledgment along with enough original individual registration forms (onion skins) to later individually register each dog.
Anytime after receiving the Original Individual Registration Application forms (onion skins), one can individually register a racing greyhound by completing one of these forms and sending it to the NGA. Most owners wait until the pups are 12-17 months old; if a pup is not going to race, most owners do not individually register that greyhound. Again, this form requires a four-sided bertillon picture complete with sex, color indications, markings, scars, and distinguishing features. Also, the color (light, dark, or horn) of each of the 16 toenails, and color and markings of each foot must be indicated. One must also read the tattoos from the greyhound's ears and report them on the form. Other information is required such as sire, dam, grandparents, and appropriate signatures. This is also the form where one lists three name choices. A $10 fee (for NGA members) must accompany this individual application (to register 8 pups would be $56). Obviously this bertillon picture, markings, etc. must match the one from the litter registration forms that were filed by the end of 90 days. The NGA will then return a yellow Certificate of Registration for each registered racing greyhound. In one sense, this is the ownership title to the individual greyhound. The Certificate of Registration has the greyhound's tattoo numbers and the four-side bertillon picture and other information from the individual registration, along with the name awarded that specific greyhound. This Certificate of Registration must accompany a racing greyhound to the racetrack and is kept by the racing secretary at the track. Before each race, each greyhound is checked against its Certificate of Registration (ear tattoos, color, markings, etc.) to insure the betting public is witnessing the correct greyhound in the race.
As a side note, each greyhound owner must obtain an owners license from the racing commission in the state(s) where they race greyhounds. To obtain an owners license in a state, one must fill out and file a very personal application, complete with fingerprint cards, references, and a fee. The application must be notarized. This must be done each year for each state (fingerprints are not required each year). The particular state then runs a criminal check on the applicant. One cannot race greyhounds without an owners license.