By Floyd Amphlett
When I was first told the story of Henry the three-legged greyhound, the tale started with the theory that the callous breeder had decided not to persevere with a badly injured pup and a ‘rescue kennel had come in to save the pup’s life.’
I had no idea of the dog or the breeder’s identity or the actual circumstances behind the case. So here is the real story of Henry, or as I have since discovered, ‘Cleffy’.
Cleffy was one of five pups born on 6 June 2012 and was bred by trainer Yorkshire based Diane Henry – no naming coincidence surely? She takes up the story. .
“I remember Cleffy’s litter so well for so many reasons. He was a lovely little pup and was given his name because he had a cleft jaw. He was by my open racer Honey Trampas. Although I love all my dogs, there was something a bit special about Trampas, he was ‘my boy’.
“The dam was Ma Wee Jamie, who lived in the house with me, and the litter were born in my bedroom. At the time if the mating I was preparing Trampas for a competition at Romford but shortly afterwards he started to behave strangely.
“I took him to a string of vets who couldn’t agree what the problem was. One of them insisted it was a prolapsed disc in his back. Eventually he was scanned and they diagnosed that he had meningitis.
“He actually died before the pups were born and they were his only litter which was very poignant.
“The pups are given complete freedom here and can run where they please. I remember Cleffy being injured. Pups are always picking up knocks and bruises and to begin with we didn’t realise how serious it was.
“We had him strapped up, but were told by the vet that the leg would have to be amputated.
“John, the owner, took him to the surgery and when he came back he explained that one of the veterinary nurses had fallen in love with him and asked to have him.
“I wasn’t that surprised, he was such a lovely pup and John agreed straight away. Why wouldn’t he? We thought the dog would have a lovely home.
“Of the other four in the litter, one of the bitches Ophelia was a little bit nervous. We schooled her but she just didn’t seem suited to racing so I re-homed her myself to a vet in Hinckley.
“Two of the pups were sold to the same man. The pups were his life and he took them to the park every day. One day, the bitch arrived back at his feet and died with a heart attack. The owner was devastated. It was just sheer bad luck. It could have happened to a pet Jack Russell out on its daily run.
“The dog, Chip Butty, went on to win many race. The other dog I kept myself and named Magnificus because he so reminded me of his dad. Although I was training at Henlow at the time, the dog really needed a big track so I went him to Pete Harnden at Nottingham where he won plenty of races.
“Going back to Cleffy, I had no idea what had happened to him and how he would be exploited by the antis to raise money.
“I have never put down a dog – other than in extreme cases like cancer – in my life. My dogs are everything to me. Had the nurse not asked to have Cleffy, he would be at home with me now.
“All my ex-racers live out their lives with me, including his mum who is buried in a special area that I have put aside for all my dogs. It isn’t just greyhounds, I have a number of other breeders including Rhotties and Pugs.
“I even have one Pug who had to have both eyes removed when he was a few weeks old. He travels around in the van with me and absolutely loves his life.
“Dogs learn to adapt. For anyone who doesn’t know me to suggest that I wouldn’t look after a puppy who has had a leg removed, it just makes me sick.”