Pets and Their People: Love at First Sight for Two Retired Runners
Posted by Kris DiGiovanni
Published: January 10, 2009
Today I’m interviewing a retired racing Greyhound, WJS Kittyhawk, who owns Sandy Scott, a retired cross-country racer and champion cyclist.
Me: So, Kitty… May I call you Kitty?… I understand you used to race.
Kitty: All my friends call me Kitty, so certainly, go ahead. In fact, it really freaks people out when my human calls, “Here, Kitty, Kitty,” and a 60-pound Greyhound shows up. But to answer your question, yes, I raced at three different tracks, and girlfriend, I was fast. In 83 races, I was in the money 43 times, and finished first 13 times.
Me: That’s pretty impressive, but I hear you are an ex-con. What’s up with that?
Kitty: Yes, it’s true. When I hung up my racing muzzle, I needed something else to do. I ended up in prison, at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Michigan. There’s a program there sponsored by The National Greyhound Foundation called Second Chance At Life. It matches up retired greyhounds and prison inmates. We spend three months teaching them the basics: compassion, responsibility, love – and in return they show us how to sit, stay, heel, etc. Works out pretty well.
Me: So how did you hook up with your human?
Kitty:Beverly Sebastian, founder of the NGF, told be about a man who was looking for a fast friend – cat and small dog friendly, sweet, girly girl – and of course that’s me to a ”T”. So she suggested Sandy Scott.
I have to admit that when I first saw him it was like looking at my “brother from another mother.” He’s lean and lanky, like me, has a pale complexion, a little grey around the muzzle. It was definitely love at first sight. The clincher was he’s an ex-runner too.
Me: A runner, you say?
Kitty: We’ll, he’s retired from that now, but back in the day, he ran a fair amount. Held the National Championship in the 10,000 meter cross country, the 5000 meter, and the 4×1 mile relay. I can beat him out of the blocks every time, but he can smoke me in the stretch. I’m a sprinter after all.
Me: So you two run together?
Kitty: Nope. I’m retired. But a girl has to keep her figure. I take him to the dog park pretty much every day so I can keep up my exercise routine. It’s only fair, since he spends all morning on his bike.
Me: Ahh, so he’s a cyclist.
Kitty: Not just “a cyclist,” he’s got over ten Florida State Championships and holds every state record in his age group, plus a world record.
Me: You must be so proud.
Kitty: Well, I am and I’m not. The guy’s not too bright. A few years ago he swerved to avoid an official during a race and went right over the handle bars. Broke his neck at C-1. You’d think he’d learn a lesson. But no, within a week he was back on a trainer, and in 2007, darned if he didn’t win the AMS Masters Comeback of the Year Award. He still rides an average of 50 miles a day, and competes regularly.
Me: Sounds like a pretty determined athlete.
Kitty: Well, he’s always had that “Top Gun” personality, you know, the “need for speed?” He started out as a motorcycle cop in California. He was in law school, hoping to get into the FBI, but got sidetracked, got his pilot’s license and flew for Eastern Airlines for more than 25 years. Then he hooked up with a pilot training company for 12 years and ended up as their VP of sales. He finally retired from the rat race, but just couldn’t keep still. He took up cycling at 64, and hasn’t looked back. He just got a blogging gig at Master Athlete.
Me: So, Kitty, it sounds like you have a pretty good life now.
Kitty: I can’t complain. I’ve got Sandy pretty well trained now. His fiance’s Lab-mix, Sasha, and I get along great, even though she does tend to get a bit hoggish with her ratty tennis balls. (Between you and me, they don’t really taste that good anyway.) I’ve got lots of buds at the dog park, and a snazzy custom collar. Life is good.
Me: So how can other humans find great greyhound companions like you?
Kitty: Well, of course there’s the Second Chance at Life Program, but in the Tampa Bay area, there are two rescue agencies, GREAT, and Greyhound Pets of America. Just check them out on the Web and they will hook you up. Of course all three organizations could always use donations, so if you’re not looking to get adopted by a dog just yet, you can still help out.
Me: Thanks, Kitty, it’s been great talking with you. See you around the dog park.
Kitty: You’re welcome, and Wooof!
Apparently Bill Shafer read Kitty’s interview and sent her a nice letter – you can see it below:
Kitty already had a bit of a swagger as she walks around the house due to her fabulous racing record on three different dog tracks. Since the publicity, she has requested a thicker bed, more expensive kibble, and an array of rather expensive dog toys. Oh well, she’s worth it!