Greyhound pet owners from across the country — along with many of their retired racers — will be converging on Abilene the next few days ( June 20-22) for their annual Home of America Greyhound Gathering.
The Gathering (as attendees affectionately call it) has become a traditional opportunity for the greyhound pet community to meet together while also mingling with folks from the greyhound racing industry. For decades Abilene, home of the National Greyhound Association (NGA) and the Greyhound Hall Of Fame, has been known in racing circles as the Greyhound Capital of the World.
“The Gathering is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year,” says Bec J. Maier, of Greenwood, Ind., director of the event. “It’s going to be huge, what with 248 people registered to attend. That’s almost triple what it was in 2009.”
“Abilene has my heart, as everyone knows,” she adds. “The Gathering will continue every year in June, and continue to raise funds to support greyhound adoption and the Greyhound Hall Of Fame.”
Some of the attendees will be journeying to Abilene from far-off places.
“We’ve got people registered from California, New Jersey, Georgia — everywhere,” Maier says. “This will be our biggest one, by far.”
The racing industry and adoption community have been working together to find homes for retired greyhounds, dating back to the 1980s. There are now more than 300 adoption agencies in the United States and Canada that deal solely with retired racing greyhounds. NGA statistics show that virtually all retired greyhounds are adopted into loving homes or return to their farms of origin for breeding purposes after their racing careers.
Sterl Hall will be the site of The Gathering where most of the events will be staged. The program features guest speakers from all corners of the country, as well as tours of the NGA and Hall Of Fame and several of the local greyhound farms. They will also have an activity at the Abilene Greyhound Park training track.
Speakers at the event include Drs. Linda L. Blythe and A. Morrie Craig, of Corvallis, Ore, retirees from the veterinary college at Oregon State University. They are coauthors of the world renowned textbooks, “Care of the Racing Greyhound” and its sequel, “Care of the Racing & Retired Greyhound,” published by the American Greyhound Council.
More copies of these books have been sold worldwide than any other book involving greyhounds. For their many contributions to greyhound racing, Drs. Blythe and Craig were inducted into the Greyhound Hall Of Fame Pioneer Section in 2010. They were also recipients of the Greyhound Pets of America’s Adoption Excellence Award, presented at The Gathering in Abilene last June.
Another author, Leslie Wootten of Arizona will also be speaking at the event. Wootten, who is a third-generation participant in greyhound racing, wrote the book “Keefer: The People’s Choice.”
Other speakers include Rory Goree, president of Greyhound Pets of America and chairman of the Arizona Racing Commission; Jim Gartland, NGA executive director and coordinator of the American Greyhound Council; and greyhound breeders Harland Olson, of Solomon, Ks., and Bob Crossland, of Oak Grove, Mo.
A roundtable, featuring some of the most knowledgeable people in the racing industry, will be held at 9 p.m. Friday at Sterl Hall.
A complete schedule of the events will be available through Heart of America officials at Sterl Hall throughout The Gathering.