Fortunately, Bean was okay with cats.
Now we had to plan on when we could pick up puppy Bean. She lived in Iowa, but Aimée would pick her up and take her to her home in Minnesota. Flying Bean out to us was out of the question, so the only alternative was to drive from California to Minnesota and back. I spent a few days trying to figure out where our rest stops would be, and eventually settled on this itinerary:
- Day 1: Los Angeles, CA to Grand Junction, CO
- Day 2: Grand Junction, CO to Omaha, NE
- Day 3: Omaha, NE to Minneapolis, MN
- Day 4: Rest up in Minneapolis
- Day 5: Minneapolis to Omaha
- Day 6: Omaha to Grand Junction
- Day 7: Grand Junction to Los Angeles
I had a hard time believing it's actually happening.
At 6AM our daughter and I left home and began the first leg to Colorado. After thirteen hours of driving through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado we arrived at my parents place, ate dinner, and chatted for awhile before going to bed. While talking with them about the roadtrip I still had a feeling that they thought we were a little crazy doing this but understood why and supported us.
Up early the following morning we needed to drive another twelve hours through Colorado and Nebraska to get to Omaha by nightfall. The weather was perfect and driving east on the Interstate 70, 76, and 80 was easy.
All this time I kept thinking and wishing that Sadie was with us.
We got some sleep after eating a late dinner in Omaha. The following morning we got up a little later than the previous two mornings. We were driving four hours into Iowa and stopping at the Greyhound farm where Bean and her eight litter mates were whelped on 16 September, 2013 (a week before Katie died). I grabbed a snapshot of the Iowa landscape scrolling past our car windows:
As we got closer to Bean's farm, I could still scarcely believe this was really happening: we were going to see where she was whelped, and we were going to meet her breeder. We turned off of Interstate 35 and after making a couple more left's-and-right's we made a final right turn and there it was on either side of a gravel road:
Our friend who was fostering Bean had just parked her car in the driveway just minutes before we arrived. She introduced us to the owners, and we were then ambushed by the resident greeter-greyhound, Thunder. Rachel got the worst of it:
Gary's wife, Bev, took a liking to Rachel right away after they invited us inside their home: Rachel noticed all the birds feeding in their backyard and started naming them right away. Bev was so impressed by this, so they started talking birds for minutes. In between all this, Aimée handed them a print of a photo she had taken of their previous greeter-greyhound, Rocky, who had recently died. They were really touched.
Let me just take a moment and thank Aimée for meeting us at Gary's farm because she knew that I very badly wanted to see it -- more so since it's Bean's birthplace. Our friend has been to the farm numerous times to pick up greyhounds who were ready for retirement from Gary, and they have a close working and personal relationship. It's a precious thing, and not the sort of thing that you take for granted, exploit, or take advantage of. And we have to thank Gary and Bev for letting us, as total strangers from California, open their farm to us. It's really not something that we, as greyhound adopters, ever get to see.
Gary told us to go anywhere we'd like on his farm. Gary and his farmhand walked with us when they had a few fleeting moments of free time to spare from their chores. They answered our questions and talked about the various areas of his farm. We stopped to visit the long, rectangular runs where the litters of greyhound puppies get to exercise and play with each other as much as they want. In one run were some of Bean's litter mates (at that time they were almost eight months old):
The particolor greyhound is one of Bean's brothers that looks very much like her. Aimée is hoping to adopt him when his racing career is over.
After meeting some yearlings in a nearby barn we drove down the 200-yard-long turn-out pens with Thunder as our escort and watched all the puppies run and barking before us. I'd never seen anything like that before.
Along the far end of the farm was a turn-out pen with rows of small trees. In this pen were more puppies hiding and playing. They came out to see us as we approached.
They are very curious to see new people, and lots of them were eager to play with us. Gary makes sure that his dogs are well-socialized: he has people stop by to play with his pups.
One of the highlights was spending time at one of the puppy barns. We got to play with a litter of puppies there.
We could have spent so much more time there.
Finally, we went into the pen where there were older pups (but slightly younger than Bean). Aimée was quickly mobbed by one of the pups:
Oh oh...one of the black pups has me in its sights:
I've heard it claimed that racing greyhound puppies don't know how to play with -- or don't get to play with -- toys. Really?
When you can get ahold of one, a puppy goes all limp.
Reluctantly we left the puppies so they could go back and play. Lastly we went inside a barn where the brood mamas were:
And we watched Gary's farmhand prepare the afternoon meal for all the dogs. I was impressed at how clean and immaculate the rooms in all of the buildings were. Gary is proud of how well he maintains his property and how he cares for all of his dogs -- and rightly so.
We bid a reluctant farewell to the farm and headed north under rainy skies to Minnesota for our introduction to our puppy Bean. Pictures of that will be in the next post (which I swear won't take as long to write as this one).