(Note to readers - this article was published prior to Whistler's Stud being replaced by Whistler's Betty)
by Tim Horan
They have never met in person. On Internet bulletin boards like Greytalk, Roo & Rant and Global Greyhounds they are better known as Mroper, Precocious and Rockingship than their real names.
And the three have come up with an idea that could build a big bridge between Greyhound racing owners and Greyhound pet owners.
Dennis McKeon, better known as Rockingship, came up with the idea.
"I was wondering about the great Irish Greyhound Late Late Show, who had raced his whole remarkable career for charity, and wound up winning more money than any other Greyhound in the long and distinguished history of Irish racing," McKeon wrote. "I thought that it would be awfully nice to have a Greyhound racing for adoption somewhere in the US, and with any luck, maybe that Greyhound could be on-tenth as successful as was Late Late Show."
Enter Precocious, aka Larry Birnbaum.
Always interested in ways of promoting the stud dog, Craigie Whistler, Birnbaum donated a pup by the sire.
Also involved in the deal was Mroper, Martin Roper, who agreed to manage what has become Raceforadoption.com.
Originally, they wanted to sell 30 shares but "it really mushroomed," Roper said.
By July 1 Raceforadoption.com had collected 100 shares at $100 in the Greyhound Whistler's Stud (Craigie Whistler-EE's Speed Dream). The first $10,000 was also matched by Birnbaum, all of which went to Greyhound adoption. Additionally when Whistler's Stud goes to the racetrack, either Wheeling or Southland, 50 percent of his earnings will also go to adoption, as the shareholders' only reward is a tax deduction. Everytime Enterprises will retain breeding rights.
The groups selected as benefiaries are Southeast Greyhound Adoption (SEGA), managed by Pam Davis, and Pups Without Partners, managed by Penny Zwart.
"These two are our friends on these boards, and both do amazing and tireless work for Greyhound adoption," McKeon said.
But Radeforadoption.com has done much more than raise $20,000 for retiring Greyhounds.
"We wanted to raise awareness among Greyhound pet owners about Greyhound racing," Roper said. "I had a lady say, 'I guess I can't be anti-racing anymore.'
"People from all over have donated to this," he said adding that three donated anonymously. "We're adopting out 20,000 dogs a year and there's something like 30,000 people that own a Greyhound as pet owners."
The number of pet owners is probably closer to 100,000, many of whom are fed a load of goods by anti-racing groups. Roper knows from first hand experience.
He and his wife Mallinwa were watching the program National Geographic produced on Greyhound racing. After seeing the special they decided to adopt a Greyhound, and they ended up getting the Greyhound from an anti-racing group. It wasn't until he went to Tri-State that his mind changed about the sport.
"The dogs were coming off the track really happy," Roper said. "And we didn't see the abuse they (animal rights) talked about. We asked for a tour but they said they couldn't do that at the track."
Instead he toured the farm of Harvey Maupin and became interested in Greyhound racing. When the Internet boards started up his involvement ended up leading to owning a racing Greyhound.
The next project for Raceforadoption.com is the web page, which Erika L. Walker-Arnold with RUWebby, is hosting free of charge.
The group plans to use the web page so "owners" can track the career of Whistler's Stud and information about racing.
"The site will contain information on how to contribute, a donor's list, facts on Greyhound racing, biographical information on the RaceForAdoption.com pup and will have his racing schedule and results," Martin said.
"RaceForAdoption.com represents what adoption groups and racing owners can do when they work as partners rather than adversaries," he added.
Something that's refreshing for this industry.