Our New Kennel
The following is the article about our adventure with building our new kennel, as it appeared in Celebrating Greyhounds:
On February 1, 2001, Rocky Mountain Greyhound Adoption became homeless after the kennel we had been using was sold. We were fortunate to be able to move into temporary housing in a small kennel owned by Herb and Linda Gleim, who breed and race Greyhounds. Torri Morris, our adoption coordinator, lived in a motor home parked next to the kennel from February until June, when she bought a home nearby. It was crowded, but our adoption dogs and Torri’s dogs moved into the kennel. However, we really needed to find a permanent home.
We first had some difficult choices to make: Would we continue as a kennel-based adoption group, change to a foster-home based group, or would the toll on our group brought on by the major changes cause us to disband? Our decision was that we would remain a kennel-based group. One reason is that over the years, we have found that Greyhounds that have been in multiple homes are more prone to suffer separation anxiety, and we believe there is significant trauma caused by leaving a foster home. Another consideration was that as a trainer, Torri is able to provide routine worming and vaccinations for the dogs and also evaluate each dog’s personality and make recommendations regarding the type of home situation that would be best for each one. Her relationship with the other kennel operators has made it possible for our group to obtain records and information from them. We were offered the use of a kennel at Cloverleaf Kennel Club in Loveland, Colorado, but while it was a much appreciated and generous offer, Torri would not have been able to continue providing the kennel work for our adoption dogs and this was not acceptable. Torri started adopting out her own retired racers fifteen years ago and she provided much needed guidance for the two novice Greyhound adopters who started RMGA. She has been a major part of our group since our incorporation in 1994 and has always helped care for our dogs. We felt our group could not continue without Torri, and we lost several members when the decision was made to not use a kennel at Cloverleaf. It is always sad to see friends leave, but the Greyhounds in Colorado gained a new adoption group in the process.
We explored a number of options for our new home. We needed enough land to house a kennel, near enough to Denver to allow potential adopters and volunteers easy access, yet far enough from the city to avoid problems with neighbors. We began looking at horse properties that might be converted to a kennel and we found a 35-acre property with a barn and fenced areas that could easily have been converted. Our treasurer presented a plan where a group of investors would pool money for a down payment, and would share a portion of the cost of the monthly payment. We would rent out the residence on the property to help with the mortgage expense. The value of property in the Denver area has been steadily increasing, and we felt it would be possible for a portion of the property to be subdivided and sold to pay back the investors, with a profit, within a few years. However, before we could take the steps to attempt this plan, the land was sold. It was now late June 2001, and we were starting to worry; the Gleims had their own Greyhound pups that needed to be brought into their kennel, and with us there, there was not enough room.
Soon after we started adopting Greyhounds from the Gleims’ kennel, they became deeply involved with our adoption efforts and when the property we had been hoping to buy was sold, they offered to let us build a kennel on their property. After examining our finances, this seemed to be an impossible goal: A well alone would cost at least $10,000! The Gleims then offered to let us tap into their well, allowing us to avoid that expense. We met with Herb and Linda and Herb’s brother, Rick, and made plans for a 20 ft. by 80 ft. pole barn as our new kennel. It would have 18 indoor-outdoor runs for adoption dogs, a kitchen/office area, a bathroom, a storage room, and a small crate area. The design we chose was similar to the Gleims’ kennel to allow us to take advantage of their experience with the building process.
In July 2001, we mailed almost 1,000 letters to local businesses, asking for their help with our project. We had learned trusses would be difficult to acquire because the local building code requires that they have to be specially manufactured. As if by magic, four days after the first letters were mailed, we had our first donation from Fort Collins Truss: all the trusses for the roof. This was the first sign that this kennel would become a reality.
With Rick Gleim as our commander-in-chief directing this project from the very beginning, construction of the kennel began on September 22, 2001. The ground was leveled, the outline of the building was marked on the ground and we started setting the posts for the building. After the first day, we had all of the posts set and bands around them to hold them in place. The building looked so small when it was just an outline on the ground but after we saw the posts in the ground, we began to realize the enormity of this project.
On September 29, 2001, the trusses were put in place and the building began to take shape. We also began digging trenches and putting in the rough plumbing. John Dillie, owner of a plumbing company in Boulder, Colorado, donated all of the plumbing supplies. John and his wife, Kathy, have a tradition in their family of making donations to worthy causes instead of giving each other gifts for birthdays and anniversaries. John not only donated all of the supplies we needed, but he donated his nephew and helper, Robert, to install the plumbing. The Dillies also gave a sizeable cash donation which allowed us to purchase lumber for framing. By mid-October, we had the rough plumbing in the ground and our concrete floor was poured.
Each time we neared the end of our funds, another miracle would happen. We received a grant from the American Greyhound Council, which paid for the leveling of the ground, digging the post holes, and pouring the floor. We were again running short on funds when we received a donation of heavy gauge metal for the roof. On October 13, 2001, the roof began to appear. It isn’t the prettiest roof, but the metal is thick and strong, and we know that roof will withstand the worst hailstorm Colorado can muster.
By the end of October, the roof was up and money was again running short. We needed additional funds to purchase the metal for the outside walls of the building and lumber to frame and finish the inside. We were stunned when we received a donation of almost $9,000 from a former breeder and kennel operator and on November 3, we were installing the metal for the outside walls. Herb built the frames for the dog doors and a local company donated large semi tractor-trailer sized mud-flaps; these were cut to size and attached to the frames with piano hinges for dog door flaps.
By mid-November, the outside walls were up and we began framing the inside of the kennel. Wayne Medlin, owner of an electrical contracting company and a friend of the Gleims, dug trenches for our utilities, connected the electricity, and installed a breaker box. John Dillie came to our aid again and installed inside plumbing, gas lines for propane, and a water heater. Don Peg, another local business owner and friend, hooked up our water line to the well. Tom Lauhan, an adopter who also owns a heating and cooling company, donated and installed a furnace and duct work. By December 22 our friend, Carl Larson, finished hooking up the propane. Rick and Carl installed the interior electrical wiring, and we finally had light and heat in the kennel. Another Greyhound owner and carpenter, Mark Hensik, obtained a donation of cabinets for much needed storage. Mark also installed the cabinets and counter tops in our kitchen and kennel areas. After a quick coat of paint and installing crates donated by kennel operator Gary Bryan and the Gleims, we had dogs in our new kennel on January 5, 2002.
The dogs were now in the crate area of the kennel, but the building was not finished. Larry "Catfish" Frese, who is retired from the Greyhound racing industry, had been helping all along, but he was invaluable during this time. Catfish spent every day at the kennel, putting up walls and ceilings, caulking cracks and corners, and doing many of the little tasks that we never seemed to get done. Carl spent New Year’s Day digging trenches for the fences for the indoor-outdoor runs. On January 19, we were setting the posts for the runs and discovered we needed to have gutters installed immediately, another expense we had not anticipated. Torri got a call from the president of the Colorado Kennel Operators Benevolent Fund and we received a donation from them for our building. The very next week, the septic system and gutters were installed. On January 27, ten of our indoor-outdoor runs were completed.
It was a difficult year and many of us hope we will never be faced with this kind of crisis again, but we are amazed at the generosity of so many people and their assistance in making this kennel a reality. Without the support of our many friends in the racing industry and the business community in the Denver area, we would not have this beautiful building. This is not simply RMGA’s kennel, it is a symbol of what can be accomplished through cooperation and friendship. Is the kennel completed? Not quite. There are many little things left to be done: We need to build a fence/windbreak on the north side of the building and build turnout pens on the south side of the building for showing Greyhounds to prospective adopters. We plan to eventually have some type of awning over the runs to provide some shade for the dogs and we need to have the roof painted in the very near future! But those things can wait until we replenish our depleted funds. For now, we have a new home, and adoptions continue.
What does it cost to build a kennel? Below is a rough idea of what our kennel cost. The items marked with an asterisk (*) were donated and the cost was estimated. And much of the labor for this project was provided by a core group of approximately 10 volunteers who gave up almost every Saturday and many Sundays from September 22, 2001, until the end of January 2002. We also had many other volunteers who provided assistance with specific portions of the building process.
For photos of the new kennel click here.