300 Shades of Grey

A Greyhound Gathering
By Laurel Beesley, April 2015

Calm your breathing, don’t get too excited. The truth is, 50 Shades of Grey has nothing to compare with the 300 Shades of Grey about to gather in Kanab, Utah from May 8th to May 10th. Strolling the streets—beckoning to be stroked—will be the long, slim legged beauties with lean faces, and sharp eyes that pierce the soul. Heavy petting is the rule, palpitating hearts and drooling is permitted during the one-of-a-kind 2015 Greyhound Gathering.  

Founded by Greyhound devotee Claudia Presto, the Greyhound Gathering is intended as a celebration and fund-raising event assisting recognition and rescue of this gentle, athletic and very beautiful breed. If Cleopatra believed Greyhounds were to be prized as elegant companions, why should we argue? The history of the breed is unusual and fascinating; ranging from their special place in Egyptian culture, through their great popularity in Greece (Greek and Roman mythological figures were frequently portrayed with Greyhounds as companions), and into the Dark Ages when ownership of Greyhounds was the exclusive right of the nobility and no “meane person” (meaning people like you or me) could dream of possessing one. They were the first featured breed in English Literature, and during the Renaissance they were the most common dog used in heraldry.

Their history here in America hasn’t been as delightful. Greyhounds were first introduced in America in the late 1800s to keep down the rabbit populations on farms. Chaucer had been right in praising the Greyhounds for being “as swift as fowls in flights,” and racing competitions soon became common between farmers. By the early 1900s, the artificial lure had been invented and Greyhound racing was an official sport. The many dogs that don’t make it to the track and the dogs needing to retire after their brief lives in the fast lane are at terrible risk. Popular events like this Greyhound Gathering are raising recognition of their need for adoption; and raising awareness of the loyal, adoring nature of these gentle athletes who wouldn’t mind becoming couch potatoes in a loving family home.

Claudia herself is the perfect example of a convert to Greyhound-ism.  Escaping from the pressures of a very well paid and stressful corporate job, she took her Afghan hound to Vermont for an obedience class. As her dog sat stubbornly under a shady tree admiring the view but refusing to participate, Claudia saw her first (well-behaved) Greyhounds. That day was her “ah-hah” event, and within a few years she was leaving her job in New York and driving her new Chevy pickup west with Slim, her new Greyhound buddy, keeping her company. Now she’s “the slave of the Greyhound Gang, a non-profit labor of love that will get me into Doggie Heaven and brings me immeasurable joy on a daily basis.”


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Others get to share her joy now when they come to Kanab to play over this special 3-day weekend. The Costume Parade on Saturday is the most popular event for viewers and participants. Over 300 hounds from across America will strut their stuff down the center of town while Elvis croons “Hound Dog” from the Announcer’s Stage: ”well they said you was high-classed…”  Dogs arrive in unbelievably imaginative costumes like Grey-ola Crayons, a Greyhound Bus, a prison gang, cowboys, a cluster of grapes (you’d have to see it to believe it), and on it goes. Claudia doesn’t believe in awarding prizes “because greys have been killed for not winning,” but instead, every costumed hound and human receive recognition in categories like “Who is Tutu Too-Too Pink.” Other wacky wonderful special events include the Blur of Fur Runs, a Yappy Hour (muzzles to the sky for a communal hound howl known as the Greyhound “ROO”), Greyhounds Got Talent, speakers, artisans, caricature drawings, agility demos and plenty of other food, fun and frolic. During the event, Best Friends Animal Society will be giving special tours of the sanctuary just seven miles outside the center of Kanab.

“His eyes, warm but piercing, rivet you to the spot. Forget about shopping. Forget about 4-wheeling today. Forget about anything but him. He’s sleek, stunning, and unbelievably beautiful. You put a tentative smile on your face, and carefully reach forward with your fingers—hesitating, waiting for his response. You are now face-to-face with him. Will he let you touch him on the strong curves of his elegant face? Now he is leaning forward, his tongue slowly extends to lick the tip of your nose and his dark, gentle eyes blink in approval.”  Taken from 300 SHADES OF GREY; you can write your own chapter after joining us at the Greyhound Gathering.  

If you are a Greyhound owner and would like to join the events as a participant, please go to: www.greyhoundgang.org. If you are interested in visiting Kanab during the Gathering, and want more information on places to stay and things to do please go to: www.visitsouthernutah.com.

Photos courtesy of Greyhound Gang