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The Phoenix Seven

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New Hope and Beginning for Greyhounds

By Ben Cable

“The Phoenix Seven” has links to adoption stories in their new families and volunteers’ words. The internal links are provided within the article. The journey from track to loving forever homes.

Free at Last (CableMuse.com) by Herman Grubbs

*Stories Updated* January 16, 2010 – Phoenix, AZ (Cable Muse Network) – This is the true story of seven Phoenix racing greyhounds finding hope, new homes and love. If this was a fairytale Judy Paulsen would be Snow White. Saturday afternoon on December 5th, Judy in Albuquerque, New Mexico was on her telephone being interviewed by Cable Muse Network when her voice became excited and she exclaimed “they’re here!”

Over the last decade the sport of racing greyhounds has received great scrutiny and dwindling profits. Groups such as PETA had lauded inhumane atrocities on greyhounds within the industry to appease our human need for entertainment. At the same time, the increase in casinos had contributed to the decline of greyhound tracks as a gambling and social function. One source told CMN, “Greyhound spectators are getting old and a dying breed.” This article is little about the politics of racing but about a group of seven beautiful dogs that found new lives.

Undisputed by race tracks, handlers, or kennels are the facts racing hounds spend most of their lives muzzled and caged. The underperforming, maimed or greyhounds deemed unadoptable are often put down, a kinder word than killed.

A truck with trailer in tow had pulled up to Judy’s driveway carrying seven greyhounds from Phoenix, Arizona. One-by-one Fancy, Star, Lakota, Uniqua, Venger, Reba and Bus were guided into the foyer of Judy Paulsen’s home. The Phoenix Seven were from the Phoenix Greyhound Park, and were moved to Tucson to prepare for a new wave of adoptees when the racing track would officially close in late December.

Don and Suzanne Stack RV (CableMuse.com)

For Don and Suzanne Stack the quest to transport six Phoenix greyhounds started on Friday, December 4th. Suzanne left work at noon to meet her husband who would drive their RV from Arizona to New Mexico.  Don and Suzanne met their first setback after spending hours in the shop with their RV.

The goal was to reach Wanda and Mike; a couple in Tucson, AZ who was caring for the six dogs from Phoenix, in time for a relaxing dinner Friday evening. However a surprising call came from Wanda regarding a seventh Greyhound ‘Lakota’ still at the Tucson track.

Wanda recounted, “Judy contacted me to see the possibility of pulling out another girl named 'Red I Lakota'. Our time frame was almost non-existent, but I went to work on it immediately.  …it was looking impossible to get Lakota released … I told them that all my efforts to pull the last dog requested out that day had failed. The night before, her kennel did not get her checked out to leave by the state track vet at Tucson Greyhound Park and without that being done, she could not be released. … The Stack's said that they would be late in arriving; they would be going to TGP to get Lakota. I called the owner of the kennel to tell them that our reinforcements would be coming and to have their trainer take her up to the state track vet and get her checked to leave immediately. After making an unexpected stop at TGP to get the last dog for the New Mexico haul, they called to say …this lucky lady would be going to New Mexico with the other 6 in the morning with them.”

Suzanne said, “…Dinner turned out to be Burger King and we pulled into Wanda's, Lakota in tow. [We were] in time to stay up and visit for a few hours before hitting the sack”. Saturday morning everyone was up before 6:00 AM and the dogs dressed in coats. “The Tucson morning was cold and Don fired up the generators to warm up the dogbox, we gulped down coffee and apple pie, and were off,” said Suzanne.

The Phoenix Seven (CableMuse.com)
The Phoenix Seven

Almost eight hours after leaving Tucson, Don and Suzanne Stack reached Albuquerque, New Mexico and Judy exclaimed into the phone with CMN, “They’re here!” Fancy, Star, Lakota, Uniqua, Venger, Reba and Bus were guided from the road up Judy’s driveway. For the first time, The Phoenix Seven experienced snow.

The Phoenix Seven (CableMuse.com)
From bottom left, clockwise: Barb Wells, Don Stack, Suzanne Stack, Eric Jackson, Kathy Jackson

Suzanne said, “It was funny to watch the greyhounds discover snow for the first time in Judy's backyard”. Suzanne emailed Wanda regarding The Phoenix Sevens' safe arrival in New Mexico. Wanda stated, “Only a matter of a couple of weeks earlier, these dogs where living in racing crates, but on this day, they were having a ball playing in the snow being dogs, this is why we do this”. Don and Suzanne stack had to leave this Saturday welcome party for The Phoenix Seven to pick up another group of hounds from Tucson on Sunday.

Working from her home Judy Paulsen said, “Coordinating one of these events before the dogs arrive is almost as challenging as readying the dogs for their adoptive or foster homes.  We do not have a kennel facility, so we must either place the dogs into foster homes or put them directly into their adoptive homes soon after they arrive.” 

Hours after The Phoenix Seven arrived, the image of Judy Paulsen as Snow White turned into the grime of Cinderella as the hours and loving work had taken their toll.

Judy’s last email to Cable Muse Network on Saturday stated, “I'm headed for bed now - I've been up since 3:50 a.m., preparing for the dogs and it is now 11:00 p.m., so I'm fried!!  Stick a fork in me - I'm done!” By this time most of the greyhounds were picked-up and brought to their new homes. Venger was brought into foster-care by Ed Woods.

Matchmaking had become a science or second instinct for Judy Paulsen, she had successfully placed over a thousand dogs with new families. Judy told CMN “It's a labor of love for me - my one true passion in life, so I give it all I've got!”

The Phoenix Seven - Profiles

Bus:  aka "Rudy."  Registered as Bus, he was most likely named after Greyhound Bus. Rudy has taken to dancing as he walks, sometimes performing mid-air pirouettes.

Fancy: A big couch potato and cuddle-lover. She tends to be where you are most of the time and wouldn’t be traded for the world! 

Lakota: With moments to spare, “Daisy” was the last to join the pack and completed The Phoenix Seven. Temperamental and loving she has made great strides.

Reba: Loves to play and cuddle. She’s a “velcro” dog as she follows around as if she were stuck to you.

Star: Star is a clown who enjoys flopping around on her back, with a giant smile and not a worry in the world.

Uniqua: aka Kissy”, has adapted amazingly well to her new home and pack, has a beautiful face and warm personality.

Venger: Has adjusted quickly and enjoys his forever home. You couldn’t ask for a nicer, sweeter dog.

Dawn Stressman, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Phoenix Greyhound Park adamantly refused comment to Cable Muse Network, LLC on the closure of the track, impact on the area including loss of jobs and greyhound adoptions. Repeated attempts by CMN to contact the Director remained unanswered.  

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