Miss Scarlett's Story

miss scarlet

-by Michelle Howard

On January 27, 2004, we received a call from our President of NMGC letting us know she had been contacted by Rhonda Darling, director of a no-kill Humane Society in Hobbs, New Mexico advising her that they had taken in a beautiful purebred greyhound. She was due to be euthanised on Jan. 28. This greyhound was a surrender by an older man who said that she used to race and he had too many to keep her. We also found out she had been given to this gentleman by her previous adopter. Ms. Darling was contacting New Mexico Greyhound Connection by email to see if we would be interested in taking her and placing her in a good home.

Since Candy (NMGC’s Pres.) knew that Eastern New Mexico was our old stomping grounds, she contacted us to see if we would make the long trip from Santa Fe to pick her up. Without hesitation, I made the plans to make the drive to retrieve this little mystery girl and bring her to NMGC. She was placed in the foster home of Glenda and Dan Harrison in Hobbs, NM, so she wouldn’t have to stay outside in a kennel. Then, she waited for the “NMGC Greyhound Express” to pick her up that weekend.

Her foster parents let us know how she was doing and what a sweet little girl she was. They let us know she had a limp and her ears were in pain and they couldn’t read her tattoos. They said they were calling her Red. Meanwhile, I was still at work making plans for picking her up that weekend when it occurred to me, I had a student that lived in Hobbs and was going home for the weekend and coming back that Sunday. I approached this student and let him know about her and asked if he would like a little company on the long drive back. He said he would love to have the company and would love to help us out. Being in Law Enforcement, we help each other out no matter whom we work for. My student’s name is Randy Pigg and he is a Police Dispatcher for Lea County Sheriffs Dept. Randy is now officially a Greyhound Guardian Angel. The night before he picked her up he got a warm blanket and bowl for her ride home in the police car. This would be the last cage she would ever see.

Sunday, Feb. 1, was the longest day. I waited by the phone all day for the call that the little girl greyhound was in Santa Fe. During the time waiting we all agreed that Red was not a good name for her. We decided Scarlett was more ladylike. Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer. I drove down to the police academy to wait for Miss Scarlett. My timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Just as I got out of the Greyhound Express truck that Lea County police car drove up. I looked into the back window of the police car and saw a wagging tail. She was ready to get out. Randy opened the door and out came a very thin, limping little girl. She came right to me like she knew she was home. She was so thin and weak I had to lift her up into the truck where she happily laid down.

When we got to the house, I knew I had to put the “turn-out” muzzle on her to meet the gang. I hated doing it but having an IG in the house that could represent a “Scooby snack”, we had to be safe. We met at the gate where the great Setari was waiting. Setari has been living in the house as the only greyhound and has been waiting for the day Mommy and Daddy would bring him a greyhound buddy. At the time, Setari didn’t know she was just going to be a foster and then leave when we found her perfect forever home. I carried this fragile girl into the yard and they met. Then Slimfast the IG came out. Slim, being all of 12 pounds is the Alpha Male of the household. Size means nothing to him. He took a look at her and then went back inside. So far, so good. I carried her into the house and put her down in the living room. She had no interest in Slim and was just happy she wasn’t in a car anymore. She explored the house. So far, the bedroom was her favorite room because of the huge bathtub in the master room. She had no problem jumping in it. We could tell right off that she was not kept as a housedog. She had a thick coat and jumped on every counter in the kitchen. Being a greyhound owner, we didn’t have anything on the counters for her to grab.

After a short time, she was exhausted and laid down in the kitchen. Slim, the boss, walked over to her and around her and she had no interest in him. So we took off the muzzle. It has never been put back on.

As time went by, I got down next to her and read her tattoo so we could find out where this little mystery girl came from. We could only read one because she would scream in pain. We didn’t want to hurt her anymore so we just got the one, the left ear, that would help us find out who she was.

We stood back and took a good look at her. She was beyond thin. You could see every bone in her body. She had a rough coat and she couldn’t put weight on her front paw, but she had the most beautiful eyes that just looked at you with love. She just wanted to be loved. Our hearts where taken after that. Within just an hour of her arriving in our home, we knew we didn’t want to let her go. Our small son put his arms around her and she turned around and gave him a sweet little kiss. Our hearts broke knowing she had so much love to give. We wanted to find her the best forever home even though in our hearts we wanted to be that home.

Over the next couple of days, she was coming out of her shell and eating well. She became more comfortable and was becoming part of the family. It was breaking my heart knowing this was not going to be permanent. In our hearts we wanted her to be ours. In the middle of the night, Mike would go comfort her when she cried out in her sleep. He would take her into his lap and she would peacefully go back to sleep. She felt safe.

I knew the day was coming that she would have to leave. I couldn’t bear knowing that not only our hearts, but also hers, would be breaking. She has been passed around in her short life, not having a forever home. So, knowing I couldn’t have her heart broken one more time, I went down to the pet store and bought her a nametag, simply inscribed, Scarlett Howard.

She is ours. She has found her forever home. Our new little girl will never be passed around again. This little mystery girl’s painful journey is now over. She will never have to worry about being loved. She has all the love in the world. She will never know what hunger feels like again. She is putting on weight and soon her pain will be gone. Our lonely Setari has found his forever buddy, and Slimfast, the IG, has found another dog to boss around. All is happy. Out of all of this, a little girl greyhound has found a little boy and a family that will love her like every greyhound should be loved.

miss scarlet
Setari sharing his dinner with Scarlett

Post Script: Scarlett’s true identity and how she wound up in Hobbs, New Mexico, remains a mystery. Using her ear numbers, NMGC has traced her through the NGA (National Greyhound Assn.) to the registered owner. We know that she was one of two puppies never given a name. We do know the name of the registered owner and messages left have not been answered. We do not know whether Scarlett was placed by her breeder or placed by an adoption group. We do know that Scarlett, who will be 4 in March, was never spayed. This has now been done, along with other routine vet work to ensure her health and well-being. NMGC will continue to investigate and hopefully will find answers to our questions.

UPDATE - FEB. 17, 2004
NMGC contacted Mr. Gary Guccione, Executive Director of the National Greyhound Assn. (NGA) and the American Greyhound Council (AGC) with our concerns regarding Scarlett and the mystery surrounding her. Mr. Guccione said he would speak with the registered owner and to an inspector. Mr. Guccione suggested NMGC send him a letter addressing our concerns. This has now been done.

NMGC has received a letter from Gary Guccione of the National Greyhound Association. In his letter Mr. Guccione reported that he had spoken with Scarlett's registered owner about the incident. The owner reported that the pups had possibly been stolen and never recovered. She remembered the litter. The owner places her dogs through adoption groups and not with coyote hunters. It is hard to say, if Scarlett was indeed stolen, how many hands she passed through before she reached the shelter in Hobbs, New Mexico. The owner was pleased that Scarlett has now been spayed and adopted. Mr. Guccione also reported that the inspector has always made it a point to inspect that facility, they are "regulars" on that route when the inspector is in that area. It will be inspected again the next trip the inspector makes through that area. Mr. Guccione thanked NMGC for all we did regarding the incident and for our diligence.