Billie Brockhoff 1989-2001
As provided to Celebrating Greyhounds Magazine for publication:
Greyhounds have the most amazing capacity for love even though, occasionally, it's totally unwarranted as in the cases of A.C. Troika's Mary and Prima Onterio, two retired racers from Kansas who were recently brought to the Northern California by Cara Brockhoff and Carol Lawrence of Northcoast Greyhound Support. The first greyhound is already a Brockhoff family member, but her younger friend will eventually be placed in a special home.
On January 24th, Cheryl Holmberg of Greyhound Pets of America in Oklahoma sent out a call to the national greyhound community over the Internet: "An old, one-eyed greyhound in Kansas needs help."
"It was as though our 11 year old one-eyed Davie, who was killed by an abandoned pit-bull, was reaching out to me," says Brockhoff. 'HELLO, Cara- someone out there is calling your name!'" Brockhoff phoned William Ritchie in Pawnee Rock, Kansas who had discovered the lost and starving 11 year old brood matron. He kept her in his tool shed and fed her for a month as he tried, using his neighbor's telephone, to notify greyhound rescue. Ritchie could not afford gasoline to drive the dog to the nearest veterinarian in Great Bend, Kansas, thus the Brockhoffs wired funds to him via Western Union.
Holmberg sent out more calls for help and no less than five volunteers came forth to assist in transporting "Billie" (named for her rescuer) from Kansas to Dallas, Texas.
In the process of making these arrangements for Billie, it was discovered that another Greyhound was in dire need of rescue. The dog racing industry has improved greatly since the woeful tales of abuse only four or five years ago, but in the world of dogs and horses, cases of unfathomable cruelty still occurs. Onterio's case is one of them.
This two-year old greyhound was given to a young man who owned her for 38 days. He locked her in a travel trailer without food for much of that time. Her only source of water was the toilet bowl. When neighbors called the police because of her continual howling, Onterio, who raced at 60 pounds, was found weighing only 30. She could barely stand or sit without leaning and had pressure sores all over her body, some from where bones literally poked through the skin.
"Terry" had been recuperating, at enormous expense in the kennels of TLC, theGPA/Kansas rescue group who was having little luck in placing her.
Pat Toman of GPA/NW in Salem, Oregon, who provides most of the adoptive Greyhounds to the Northcoast, had offered to accept Onterio if she could get the dog to Oregon. With all the volunteers who had offered to drive Billie to Texas, two more were added to drive Onterio to Billie's location at the Annie and Randy Roebuck household in Derby, Kansas where they could spend the night and catch the next four rides to Texas.
Wonderful friends at Greyhound Adoption League of Texas provided overnight comfort and transport to the airport for all three travelers the next morning, and Carol drove the six hour trip to San Francisco to meet the plane and drive back to McKinleyville- only ten days since Billie's discovery.
Now, six months after being freed from her trailer prison, Terry is a sprightly and loving pet who literally dances for attention. Kidney damage requires her to be on a special diet and her strong, muscular body is covered with scars attesting to her miserable experience. "Onterio will not be an easy greyhound to place." says Brockhoff. "She is SO needy for love that she guards it jealously and won't be perfectly happy until she has a human of her very own , one with whom she won't have to share attention as much as she's required to in our home filled with six Greyhounds and one Sequoia Humane Society Pound-hound.
Billie, on the other hand, is very much at home with the Brockhoffs. When her illegible ear tattoos were finally deciphered, it was learned that Billie (formerly called Mary) had been a brood bitch before she was given to a woman in September of 1999, still lactating from her last litter. This woman who wanted a big dog to keep her safe, learned quickly that Greyhounds aren't meant to be watchdogs, and took her to a shelter in Kansas which refused to take an 11 year old, one-eyed Greyhound. Billie was tied outside when she escaped. It still isn't clear how long she roamed the cold Kansas countryside before Bill took her in.
"One would never know from her behavior that Billie had never been in a home filled with love, and instead lived in a kennel for 11 years from which she either raced or was continually bred and rearing puppies. It's not easy to get dressed with a 70 pound Greyhound in one's lap, or to get anything done around the house with Billie leaning on one's knees. We keep tripping over her but we're managing." Brockhoff adds smilingly. "From the moment Billie arrived, it appeared that she has lived here all her life."
Hopefully, Billie will have three or four more years of comfort in McKinleyville, and few deserve it more. So many people contributed to this effort to bring this greyhound home to California that Billie herself is a true act of love.