Each year, the National Greyhound Association (NGA) holds an annual Pup Giveaway during their Fall Meet. Three greyhounds are chosen and donated to the Giveaway to be drawn by three lucky participants. This can provide wonderful opportunities for people to become involved in the greyhound racing industry who may not have been otherwise. In order for the Pup Giveaway to occur, a few greyhound farms have to be willing to donate one of their pups. Enter Darren Henry Kennel, owned by Darren and Rachelle Henry, who decided to offer one of their greyhound pups for the Giveaway. From the way they care for the breed to the way their grandchildren get excited to work on the farm, it is clear that Darren and Rachelle love what they do and the greyhounds that make it all possible.
29 years ago, Darren and Rachelle met in Victoryland, Alabama, sparking both a personal and business relationship. One year later, they moved to Birmingham, Alabama, tied the knot, and have worked with one another ever since. Having been born into the business, Darren and Rachelle have been involved in the industry for a long time. Darren’s grandfather ran greyhounds at fairs before there were race tracks and Rachelle’s father worked in the greyhound industry after he attended some races himself and fell in love with the breed; hence, Darren and Rachelle’s own passion for greyhounds.
Unlike kennels at the track, the farm’s schedule is much more flexible and changes as needed depending on the time of year, day of the month, and hour of the day. Though a typical day may vary from day to day, there are some things that remain the same. Each day, the greyhounds are fed and receive turnouts to run around while beds and kennels are changed and cleaned. With somewhere between 120 and 150 dogs on the farm at all times, there is a lot of work to be done. Fortunately, Darren and Rachelle have wonderful people working on the farm, with all the hands involved acting as one big family. Some of those helpers involve their grandchildren who help on the weekends and during the summer, making the time on the farm all the more special.
While the NGA Pup Giveaway was not on Darren or Rachelle’s radar, when Jim Gartland asked them to participate, they decided to give it a go. When selecting the greyhound to donate, Darren and Rachelle drew a name from a hat to determine which lucky pup would be in the Giveaway. That pup ended up being Mercury who is being sent for race training this month along with her nine siblings, all of which were named after elements from the Periodic Table in honor of their father, Flying Hydrogen. Mercury is described as a very sweet pup who loves attention but will allow her littermates to take the spotlight when they need it.
When naming the greyhounds, Darren and Rachelle tend to pull from a few different inspirations. Their grandchildren love to participate in naming the pups and provide suggestions whenever they can. Similar to Mercury and her littermates, often times the brood’s or stud’s name is involved or considered in some way. Darren and Rachelle have also auctioned off naming rights to adoption groups who want to get involved in the racing side of the industry.
Working with so many greyhounds over the years, Darren and Rachelle have many memories and favorite moments. One of which involves Arkans TT Gator who was the laziest pup they had ever raised, which they say with the utmost love and sincerity. While Gator’s littermates were running around and being very active, Gator just wanted to sleep all day. He never ran in the runs, which is not an exaggeration. Something, however, must have sparked in Gator while being finished because he ran well at Southland and ended up being the best in his litter. Arkans TT Gator is proof that while you can try to determine which pups will do well, you often cannot guess their success till they are racing around the track.
One of Darren and Rachelle’s favorite things about working in the greyhound racing industry is that they get to see how their work spans out. It is a process to determine which brood and stud you want to pair up and seeing how the results pan out is an exciting and fun experience. Also, being able to handle the pups from birth till they leave to be finished, and then seeing how happy the pups are to see them again later on is a humbling and heartwarming experience for Darren, Rachelle, and their team. There is so much pride and joy when one of their pups wins a race or stakes event that it is an indescribable feeling. By far though, Darren and Rachelle’s favorite thing is working with family and seeing the love for the greyhounds within them.
“It warms our hearts to be able to see the dogs we love being raised and handled by the people we love. There is no better feeling in the world for Darren and I.”
We would like to thank Darren and Rachelle for speaking with us and sharing their greyhound racing industry story. 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.