(2002 - 2014)
It is my sad duty to report the passing of Hardy Admiral, the runner-up of the 2005 Waterloo Cup, and of the last two Greyhounds to run in the blue riband of coursing. Admiral's hindquarters had been growing progressively weaker in the last few months, and we had been able to give him a rebound for a couple of months with a regimen of prednisolone, but even it had stopped working to help him. He was unable to get up without assistance and was very distressed about his disability, so we decided that it was time to say our goodbyes and allow him a dignified passing.
Admiral was bred by our friend Elspeth Stott out of her good bitch Saruk and sired by the Irish coursing champion Caxton Commander. He was owned by the Hardy Syndicate, which was headed by Richard Jenks, and was trained by Cliff Standing. He coursed two seasons in England, and also won the Roecliffe Invitation stake. He won 79% of his courses, and was defeated only by his littermates and by Shashi, in the final of the Waterloo Cup.
In 2007, when Mr. Jenks became ill and was unable to provide a home for Admiral, Elspeth asked us if we would take him. What does a Greyhound lover say to the prospect of living with a Waterloo Cup finalist other than "Yes"? And so it was arranged via a request on one of the sighthound internet forums that a Delta flight attendant with Scottish Deerhound connections would accompany Admiral on a flight from London to Atlanta. He stepped out of his large travel crate at Hartsfield like he owned the place, and never looked back.
His venerable trainer Cliff Standing described Admiral to me as a "lovely dog," and that he was. He had that wonderful combination of a sweet and biddable temperament along with that certain presence and bearing of a champion. I always wonder if the great racehorses and Greyhounds know that they are great, and I rather think Admiral knew he was. He was the undisputed king of our kennel and could stop behavior he didnâ€™t like from another dog with just a look. Cliff had used him as a "lead dog" on his gallops - a dog that is fast and honest that will entice other dogs to run up the gallops with him but will brook no malfeasance or foolishness during the run. Admiral brought that talent to America with him, and was the perfect schoolmaster for our young dogs to run with, teaching them that "shouldering in" on him would not be tolerated. I never met another Greyhound that didnâ€™t respect Admiralâ€™s leadership.
Admiral decided early on that one of his jobs was to be the first to greet you whenever you came to the kennel. He would stand in the kennel yard and announce your arrival with barking. We nicknamed him "the Mouth of England," and quickly learned that the only way to shut off the barking was to give him a scratch under the chin.
When Admiral's breeder Elspeth arranged for us to take him, she asked us to consider breeding a litter from him to help continue the English coursing lines that he represented from her breeding program. Over the years of our trips to England to attend the Waterloo Cup and other coursing meetings, we had become fans of the English coursing Greyhound, and so continuing those bloodlines, endangered by the ill-advised ban on coursing, seemed a worthwhile endeavor. We bred Admiral to another English coursing Greyhound, Queen's Evidence, who had been given to us for that purpose by Jane Strunin, another British Greyhound friend. In April 2011 Evie presented us with 10 fine strong puppies, nine of which were the same jet black color as Admiral. We hoped that they all had gotten his athletic talent as well.
Admiral was not at all certain that he was up to the task of dealing with puppies. When his pups were babies, he wanted nothing to do with them. But as they grew and got up on their legs, he seemed to enjoy his Pied Piper role with them, and they would follow him all about in our dog pasture. He tolerated their jumping up on him, putting their front paws on his shoulders and offering their kisses as he would from no other canines.
As Admiral's pups approach their 3rd birthday, the evidence indicates that he has passed on his athletic talents to the next generation. Two of his daughters have done well in open field coursing in the western states â€“ they ranked in the Top 10 American coursing Greyhounds for 2013, one of them at the No. 2 spot. Others have done well in lure coursing, one of them winning Best of Breed at the ASFA International Invitational. Another has successfully transitioned to racing on the oval in England and has won several races at the Sunderland track there.
Saying good-bye to a Greyhound that you have shared your life with is always difficult, but with Admiral it was particularly so. He was a great Greyhound who carried a bit of breed history with him and to some extent represents the end of an era. As he drifted off to sleep, I thanked him for both the memories and offspring he has given us and let him know of our enormous respect and admiration for him. He brought us joy, and we loved him well.