ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Kathy Lounsbury wears several hats as an employee of the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene: museum curator, Hall of Dame manager, gift shop operator and kennel master.
As kennel master, Lounsbury cares for two of the most important exhibits in the museum, Gary and Jade. The two retired greyhound racers are the official greeters to visitors to the Hall of Fame, at 304 S. Buckeye.
Lounsbury said most of the 20,000 yearly visitors are surprised, when walking through the doors, to be greeted by live greyhounds, the Salina Journal (https://bit.ly/1uARxU0 ) reported.
The Hall of Fame commemorates a breed that is the fastest canine and, according to “Popular Science,” the second-fastest land animal, behind the cheetah. Lounsbury said that occasionally someone will try to let Gary or Jade out the front door, which is not a good idea, since greyhounds can run up to 45 mph.
“Dad will open the door and say, ‘Your dog wants to go out.’ I don’t think so,” she said, laughing.
She said the greeters, like most greyhounds, are gentle and especially fond of strollers, which usually are good for crumbs.
Gary’s racing name was Gary Gityourown. He ran at VictoryLand, a racetrack in Alabama. He returned to Abilene, where he was raised, to recuperate from an injury and ended up finding a permanent home at the Hall of Fame.
Jade’s official name is San Tan Goforit. He was one of the last greyhounds to race at The Woodlands in Kansas City before that racetrack closed in 2007.
“I’ve on occasion had adults bring a kid in here knowing they were terrified of dogs. The one that ends up most afraid is the dog because the kid is screaming and the dog runs and hides,” Lounsbury said. “If I see that someone is not comfortable around the dogs, I’ll put the dogs in the office and put the gate up. That way they can come and pet them if they want to.
“The good thing about these guys, they won’t jump on you and they are quiet enough. They are easy to approach.”
The first greyhound greeter was Texas back in the late 1970s. In her 13 years at the Hall of Fame, Lounsbury has assisted seven different greeters.
Chig and Sharon were on board when she arrived. They were followed by Abby, Douglas and Ripley. Four former greeters are buried behind the gold greyhound statue just west of the Hall of Fame parking lot.
While most of the retired greyhounds that became Hall of Fame mainstays were not champions, two were All-Americans. EJ’s Douglas and Talentedmrripley are also inductees to the Greyhound Hall of Fame, which honors both champion greyhounds and the men and women who shaped the industry since the 1920s.
Lounsbury said there has never been a major incident involving the dogs and a visitor.
“What I get the biggest kick out of is people that bring their kids in here and say, ‘I remember coming here when I was in school,’” she said. “We have so many second- and third-generation visitors. Not just from Abilene, from all over.”
A couple recently came from California with their grandchildren and remembered visiting as children, she said.
The Hall of Fame was dedicated in 1963 at the headquarters of the Greyhound Hall of Fame, just west of Abilene. The building opened in 1973 and last year the hall celebrated 50 years.
The museum tour, which is free, starts with a 10-minute video. The history of the greyhound dates back to 6,000 B.C. The greyhound is the only breed specifically mentioned in the Bible (Proverbs 30:29 King Solomon).
Schools groups and child care providers often take field trips to the hall of fame.
“There’s a lot to see,” she said.
“What most kids find interesting is the racetrack and the skeleton of the greyhound,” she said.
She said many visitors who have adopted a greyhound and have researched the pedigree will visit the hall of fame display. In all, 63 greyhounds have been inducted, and people find it interesting to see if any of the inductees are ancestors of their dogs.
There is also a section on racetracks that are currently open and some that have closed, such as The Woodlands in Kansas City and Wichita Greyhound Park.
“I get asked that a lot, ‘Is there a track in Kansas?’” she said.
The closest racetrack is in Council Bluffs, Iowa. However, there is racing in Abilene when the National Greyhound Association runs races in the spring and fall. The greyhounds that compete have never been officially at a racetrack and there is no wagering.
The hall of fame is funded by the National Greyhound Association, made up of greyhound owners and breeders and the American Track Operators Association, made up of racetrack operators and owners. Donations are accepted.
The museum also has a large supply of greyhound related memorabilia and art items in the gift shop.
The Hall of Fame recently updated its archives, allowing Lounsbury to change the exhibits.
“I’m just getting into some pretty amazing things in the archives,” she said.
One of the items Lounsbury found was one of the first photo-finish cameras. Unlike a regular camera, the film moves so that the nose of each greyhound is photographed at the finish-line wire to record the order of finish.
Lounsbury also found a unique photograph that showed a perfect-order finish, 1 through 9. After more research, she found the program of the race from Mile High Kennel Club near Denver, which is now closed, and a story about the race.
The odds of a perfect-order finish in a nine-dog race, which are not held at today’s racetracks, is 362,886-to-1.
The camera, program and photograph are on display at the hall of fame.
Many of the items in the archives have been donated by former and current greyhound owners.
“I had a guy send me an old muzzle that had the original mud on it. He thought it should be in the Hall of Fame,” she said.
Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, https://www.salina.com
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.