At an M&G after Greyfest I was discussing the surprise that my slugbug had turned into Superhound. Someone mentioned lure coursing but I expressed my concern she would get hurt. They said SEGC allowed some practice runs after meets on Saturdays. All I had to do was ask for a short run, not the full course. I thought about it and decided to see how she reacts to lure coursing. We arrived just before the start time on the morning of the next meet. I had volunteered to help but wanted to give Venus a chance to walk around before it started. We got out of the car. She stood there looking happy to see so many other dogs. She was a little excited by the overall hubbub but as always she was an angel on leash. We walked out to the field and she looked around with some interest, sniffing the air. We went back, set up our little encampment with shade, crate, etc. (Someone thought all that stuff coming out of my little Prius sedan reminded them of a clown car.) They were getting ready to do test runs and I heard the lure machine run for a bit and then stop. I walked Venus over to the field again for another look see. And then...
The lure machine was running again. Venus started to turn her head to the source of the whirring noise but suddenly that strip of white plastic came by. "The bunny!!" Actually I don't think there was time for her to actually think that. I didn't have time to think it either because all of a sudden this terrible force was trying to remove my arm. Before my mind could process any pain I found my dog before me performing airs above the ground as she tried to slip her collar. "Bunny! Bunny! Bunny!" She HAD to go chase that thing rushing around the field even though it was now 100 or so yards away. Never in my life would I have dreamed she could get so excited. In a millisecond little miss perfect had transformed into a true sighthound. For most of that day I had to keep her out of the line of sight of the field when the lure was moving just to let her calm down and rest. When I decided to let her watch... "Bunny! Bunny! Bunny!"... Precautions were needed to prevent her from slipping away and surging onto the field. I set up her viewing arrangements as follows: 1) Backed her bouncing, bald tuckus up against the equipment trailer; 2) Straddled her like she was some wee pony; 3) Kept my hands firmly on the leashes, one on either of the two leash and collar combos I had had to put on her.
When the days competition was over and my girl got her chance at a short run. We were invited up to the starting line. "Bunny! Bunny! Bunny!" Venus and I were now standing mere feet from the object of her day long desire. I asked the lure operator for just a short run, a quick out and back through the first turn. "Hold your hounds!" That announcement wasn't just a formality. After the lure machine started Venus became a slippery eel, squirming for release. "Bunny! Bunny! Bunny!" She nearly pulled me over in the second before the Tally Ho! Finally she felt the slip lead release. I can now say with confidence that Venus has far more Tally in her than Ho. Greased lightening is slower than my girl seemed to me at that moment. Why yes, that dog will hunt but when the bunny took a hard left she was thrown off for a bit. With all legs scrambling, her feet appearing to go in four directions at once, she somehow managed to make the turn. That's when I saw her face light up in a way I had never seen before. This is what she was born to do and she knew it. The lure stopped briefly before the lure op reversed it for her return run. Venus stood there making quick grabs at the bags. I stood there in disbelief. Those were just white, plastic, kitchen garbage bags tied on the string. These were the same bags that, when pulled out of our kitchen cabinet would send her running from the room in fear. Now they were that which she wanted most in this world. The lure machine started again and Venus did her run back with the same intensity, enthusiasm and incomparable joy. We left with a very, very happy and satisfied hound in the back seat. The next morning I woke up feeling all sore and bruised, like I'd climbed into the ring for a round of professional wrestling. Venus woke up all happy and energized.
That was years ago. Though many dogs can do lure coursing safely, Venus was not one of them. She ran crazy, like a creature possessed. Thankfully Venus went on to the happy hobby of amateur racing. She ran most often in the straight races of LGRA meets where she could not only run safely be even get to catch the bunny on occasion. After the first couple meets she realized her turn would come and then come a couple more times after that. She started to act much calmer during the meets and walked nicely to the start line. But whoa be the person who did not release their hand from her collar when the lure moved. She would have dragged you down that track with her if that is what it took to go after that bunny. We even got to run a few NOTRA meets on the Greyhound practice track in Jacksonville. Venus was usually first out of the boxes and quick to take the rail, often in the lead. She was more mature then, six to seven years old but still a beautiful sight to watch even when the other hounds caught her on the final straight away.
|Venus in the lead - Retirement means running for fun.|
We all work to ensure our Greyhounds have a fun and happy life. Venus enjoys a lot of different activities. Even so, nothing in this world compares to racing and coursing. My girl is just hardwired for that. There will be exceptions, of course, but nearly all Greyhounds are pre-programmed for this and nothing else can fill that spot. Once they leave the track many of our dogs never again get to feel the same surge of excitement with commensurate level of joy that they get from a serious chase. I now know that until you have seen your Greyhound running, really running not just a zoomie or the Blur of Fur, you have not seen your whole hound.