North Saanich dogs named fastest whippets in North America
VICTORIA – Four-year-old whippets Ryder and Lucy from North Saanich faced a field of 100 others at an Indiana race last month and have come home champions.
"They blew the doors off everybody," said owner Craig Mearns. "Ryder was fortunate that he had the outside box most of the time and that is a really big advantage because it means you aren’t going to be interfered with."
The races were over a distance of 200 yards, with the first two races seeing Ryder sprint to the finish in first place and Lucy in second. When the final race was run, Lucy was first and Ryder second.
"I never thought I would have dogs like this," said Mearns. "You might have a dog that comes first once in while if you are really lucky but you won't have first and second and they won't be out of the same litter."
The dogs are descendants of a well-known line of Ringdove Kennel dogs from the Cobble Hill area. When there was an active track in Cobble Hill, as many as 30 owners would race their dogs, but now there is just Mearns and another owner on Vancouver Island.
"I'm proud of them but I don’t dwell on it, we went back there, we did it, we won the races and that's sort of the end of that," said Mearns. "The next day you have to go on with life and do something else, because these dogs are pets first and racers second."
Whippet racing is a fun sport where there is no prize money and no betting. Mearns does not actively train the dogs to race, but he does have a few racing boxes on his North Saanich property.
Ryder and Lucy are more likely to be chasing a squirrel or lying on the couch than wanting to race, he said.
"I just let them run around the yard here because basically they are couch potatoes and want to lie around and sleep," said Mearns. "When they race, it is a wonderful thing to watch because the power is unbelievable for such a small dog."
Mearns has no plans to have Ryder and Lucy race over the winter, he said. The next championship will be in Seattle and Mearns said he plans to be there.