And she’s off
By Robert Wolfington
Independent Staff Writer
A greyhound race Wednesday morning in Florida had a special meaning for a Marshall family. David and Becki Johnson along with their kids Christian and Carter have been looking forward to the race since they adopted the greyhound they call Indie.
In early December, Indie made her way down to Florida to prepare for her racing career, which began with Wednesdays race.
Although the Johnson’s weren’t able to see Indie, who races under the name No Cover Becki, for her first official event, they were able to watch it simulcast over the Internet.
“There is something about watching her go,” said Becki Johnson. “Our race feed was a little bit slow, so we actually knew where she placed before we were actually able to see her race.”
Johnson said the event ended with Indie neck-and-neck for second place.
“It was very exciting to watch her, especially towards the end,” said Johnson. “She finished in second in a dead heat, which means it was a photo finish with the third-place dog. There was no breath between the two of them.”
The Johnsons are one of the first dog owners who signed up for the “Race For Adoption” program that works to place retired greyhound dogs with loving families.
“For us, it’s a huge deal because we’re the first owners to have their first dog running for Race for Adoption,” said Johnson. “People are recognizing that and it’s inspiring other people to take the same path. It’s just thrilling to see owners who want to take a vested interest in the other dogs and not just the dog that they have right now running for them.”
All of the Johnson’s earnings from Indie’s races will go back into the Race for Adoption program.
Since Indie signed on as one of the first dogs in the program, more owners have joined Race For Adoption, while others have expressed interest.
It was a long road to get Indie ready for her first race.
“Indie’s training period was a trying experience,” said Johnson. “Her trainer joked that we should have named her Murphy’s Law because whatever could go with her did go wrong with her. When she first went from day schooling where she was winning from six to eight lengths, to night school, the official schooling before they hit the track — she froze up.
“They don’t know if it was because of the lights at night or the blanket (the vest with the racing number) or the muzzle,” added Johnson. “They don’t know quiet what it was, but something had her spooked. In her second schooling race she got bumped way wide. She pulled some of her leg mussels in her back leg.”
Johnson credits Indie’s trainers for her strong first race.
“Our trainers were fabulous,” said Johnson. “We could not have asked for a better trainer who was more concerned about Indie as herself then anybody else. He took her off her in a training regiment and put her in whirlpool baths and he did everything he could to make her comfortable.”
Indie will continue to work on completing her maiden standing so she can move to the next level.
Although the Johnson’s are glad to see their dog finish strong in her first race, they’re able to keep everything in perspective.
“We thought she would do just fine because of her breeding and who she had as her trainer,” said Johnson. “But dogs are living breathing entities and with that it’s not just a machine, but you kind of have to go on faith that she will be OK.
“For us (the racing) didn’t matter, we wanted her to succeed and we want her to be able to run for adoption, but if she didn’t make it she was still coming home. Our livelihood isn’t tied up with her,” she added.
When Indie retires in a few years, the Johnsons will bring Indie home to Marshall where she can join the family. Johnson’s kids were looking forward to seeing their dog Indie run her first race. Although they got the chance Wednesday, they had to finish their homework first.
No Cover Becki with trainer Kathi Graham - photo by Vera Filipelli