Friday, April 18, 2008

Getum Luken Hoops (aka Luke)

I found my copy of Luke’s undated racing lease. His full name was Getum Luken Hoops, a black greyhound with a left ear tattoo of 54463 and a right ear tattoo of MC 16D. He was leased to a kennel or person in Wisconsin by Joyce Weil with a starting date of “now” and a termination date of “racing life.” The owner received purse commissions of 35 percent on regular races and 50 percent on stakes races on a weekly basis. She also agreed in advance to have him placed in a pet adoption agency approved by the track following the completion of his racing career.

Greyhound Friends told me that he had raced in Texas; I’m not sure how he got from Wisconsin to Texas to Massachusetts. People sometimes asked me how he did on the tracks; the only answer I have is that he did well enough to survive until almost 4 years old as a racer, and greyhounds only continue racing as long as they win often enough. None make it past 5 on the tracks. He never showed signs of having had a serious racing injury, and we suspect that he spent at least a little time in a home before reaching Greyhound Friends. He wasn’t as skittish or shy as a lot of greyhounds are when they first come off the tracks.

He traveled with us sometimes, visiting our families in New York and Maine. We also took him on short adventures in the area, and once to a reunion at Greyhound Friends. But his 4th through 12th birthdays were spent right here with us in a home he loved.

I found the old Uniform Greyhound Certificate Of Lease Or Joint Venture as I was trying to confirm his birthday. I had just noticed that the receipts from his regular vet still list his birthday as 1/1/1995, which would have made him 13. But his birthday was 1/1/1996, because those ear tattoos don’t lie. The 16D in his right ear is the month he was born (January), last digit of the year (1996), and litter order (fourth). The confusion on his birth year is why he spent two years being 10 and no years being 9 in our minds. But no matter what his chronological age, he was always our puppy.

The remains of Getum Luken Hoops are being transported to Pet Memorial Park in Foxboro today for cremation. We did not ask for his ashes. We have his collar; we have this certificate; but mostly we have our memories. We were blessed to know Luke’s boundless and bounding spirit, and anything else is simply a touchstone.

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