There are those who love animals so much that they try to work them into their everyday lives in their work or hobbies. Bob Crossland is one of those people, spending the last 30 years raising racing greyhounds as a hobby. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bob about his life and experiences in the greyhound racing industry. Not only was Bob extremely knowledgeable about these amazing athletes, but it quickly became clear that he is passionate about the breed and the racing greyhound industry.
Bob grew up around pups, helping raise dogs of varying breeds. When The Woodlands opened in 1989, Bob’s childhood experience with dogs came back to him as he became interested in raising greyhounds. This was a venture that Bob did on the side since he was also working for UPS. It was through his involvement with The Woodlands that Bob learned everything he needed to know about greyhound racing, and where he made his connections in the industry. One of those connections was with Mooch and Dixie Olson, from Abilene, Kansas, who started training Bob’s dogs and have continued to do so ever since. Not only are they Bob’s go-to trainers, but they have also become good friends of his for 30 years now.
Bob ended up attending his first National Meet in Abilene, Kansas, in the fall of 1989, and has been at every single Meet since. That means, this fall will be Bob’s 30th National Meet. In honor of Bob’s participation in the industry and National Meets, the National Greyhound Association (NGA) awarded him and his family with a banquet in their name in 2017.
Because of Bob’s previous experience raising other breeds, making the decision to raise greyhounds wasn’t a far stretch for him. The biggest difference between greyhounds and other dogs is that greyhounds need more space to run. Over the years, Bob has kept the farm a family business with him; his wife, Debbie; and daughter, Nicole, all helping around the farm.
For Bob and the family, a typical day on the farm starts off with preparing the greyhounds’ food and feeding them. They then look over the dogs to make sure that they are well and that nothing is ‘off’. Having raised greyhounds for the last 30 years, Bob has a good understanding of indicators the greyhounds may show if something is wrong, which he can then take care of right away. After checking out the greyhounds, Bob lets them run around and roam. The farm is 5 acres and consists of 14 runs, 7 brood pens, and 1 puppy pen. The farm also includes swimming pools, water pens, and regular water bowls for the pups to enjoy.
When it is time to whelp the puppies, they keep the females in the house so that Bob and Debbie are right by them every step of the way. Bob tries to keep the litters together as much as possible on the farm. When the pups are young, he might keep six to eight greyhounds in a single run. As they get older and need more space, he’ll usually keep two greyhounds in a run. All of the pups get their tattoos at three months old when they also receive their first collar to keep.
Bob has had nice success with his puppies. He is a perpetuation breeder, which means that he looks at the line of producers of the female racers. If a female racer has had a good career and has come from a mother and grandmother who produced well, he tends to keep that female for breeding. Obviously, it isn’t a 100% guarantee that the litter will do well, but it is a start and seems to help overall.
Whistler’s Wrath has been Bob’s #1 brood, and he is keeping her daughters, Beautiful Tease, Cashontheline, and Dogem’s Magic, for breeding purposes. Though the idea is that they will produce great pups, Bob finds that it all comes down to the greyhound’s drive for success.
“The favorites are the ones that go to the race track and make themselves the favorites.”
Bob has tended to have more success with female racers as well. One of his favorite stories involves Flat Chat Cuppa, who was sold to Kristine Metz. Kristine had never owned a racing greyhound before and had only experienced greyhounds on the adoption side of their lives. After Flat Chat Cuppa was trained, she was sent to Palm Beach Kennel Club to race. She ended up making it into the finals of the Puppy Stakes, leading Kristine and her mom to drive all the way to Florida to watch her race in the final. Flat Chat Cuppa ended up winning the stakes. Bob thought it was amazing how people buy many greyhounds over the years and never win a stakes race, but Kristine’s one and only racing greyhound ended up winning the Bob Balfe Puppy Stakes. Bob loves this story because it really is a Cinderella story.
While Bob has ran his farm successfully for the last 30 years, things really took off when he was contacted by Candy Beck of Greyhound Pets of America New Mexico (GPA-NM). Bob had donated some items for an adoption event that GPA-NM was throwing. Not much later, Candy asked if Bob would be willing to donate naming rights of some of his pups for another adoption event. Bob agreed and Candy ended up buying half interest in Jean Krupa, whose name had been donated to the adoption group. This created a ripple effect with others requesting to do the same. Bob estimates that he has had over 100 people from the adoption community purchase greyhounds from him. The popularity of Bob’s greyhounds has continued as he now has a wait list for purchasing a greyhound or naming rights of one of his pups.
“It’s turned out really well for both parties. Worked out good for the racing community and worked out really good for the adoption community.”
As the adoption community became more involved in the racing industry, they started to see that the information anti-greyhound racing animal rights activists stated were not true. The adoption community that worked with Bob was able to come to this conclusion because they were able to see the process first-hand at Bob’s farm. Bob has always had an open door policy for farm visitors because he wants people to experience the greyhounds in their everyday lives and see for themselves what it is like for the pups. While Bob’s goal has not been to necessarily change people’s minds, he has found that once they visit the farm, their minds tend to change on their own as they see that the pups are happy and treated very well.
The popularity of Bob’s pups may be in part due to his honesty. He makes sure that anyone who purchases through him is aware that there are never guarantees when it comes to greyhound racing. He always wishes the best for someone’s pup but, of course, not all greyhounds are successful racing athletes.
“As the pup gets older, you can see indicators that you like in a pup, like having a better stride, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. If that dog wants to run and they show the ability and the heart, they’ll run. If not, they won’t.”
Bob also credits Nicole for their popularity, noting that she was the one who created and currently maintains the Facebook group for the farm. Bob’s daughter posts pictures and videos of the greyhounds, which people seem to really enjoy. Bob finds that Facebook has not only helped their business, but that it has helped excel the greyhound racing industry. Through Facebook, people can find loving, behind-the-scenes pictures and videos of greyhounds doing what they love and receiving the wonderful care that the farms, kennels, and tracks provide.
Bob’s whole goal was to get new people involved in the greyhound racing industry, a goal that he has seemed to accomplish. In his 30 years of raising greyhounds, Bob predicts that he has sold hundreds of greyhounds. About 7 years ago, Bob retired from UPS and continued to raise the pups that he has loved all these years. Though raising greyhounds is not an easy job, Bob loves it and enjoys having it as a hobby. As long as greyhounds are needed for racing, Bob will be there raising these wonderful athletes.
We would like to thank Bob Crossland for taking the time to speak with us and share his experience in the greyhound racing industry. Join the Crossland Farm Facebook group to enjoy updates, pictures, and videos of the farm and purchase Crossland Farm merchandise. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in it or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.