The end of a great career or the beginning of another as a Great Dam?
Kildare trainer Dolores Ruth
RAZLDAZL Marilyn is the greyhound with the movie star name and the Hollywood tale to match.
Runner-up in the Corn Cuchulainn at Harold’s Cross last Friday (19 July), the three-year-old trained by Dolores Ruth has had to overcome adversity just to make it on to the track.
Two years ago, Marilyn was subjected to a harrowing ordeal when she was stolen from a kennel in Co Kildare. A good friend, John Kelliher, had asked Dolores Ruth to train a dog for him but she didn’t have the room. After thinking about it for a week, she came up with a solution.
“I had brought in two saplings from the field and had kenneled them. I decided that we could swap – I’d take his dog in to be trained and he could mind the saplings for me. I took Fleeting Image in to train him for the Corn Cuchulainn which is the race Marilyn was in the other night,” said Ruth.
She went to England with some dogs to race and while over there received a phone call from John with terrible news.
“John rang me to tell me that Marilyn had been stolen. I thought she had just got out chasing rabbits but he told me that the lock on the gates had been broken and the lock on her paddock was too. She had been stolen out of her paddock but they left her litter brother Di Maggio behind.”
John contacted the Gardaí and put up missing posters around the area but for ten days, there was no sign of Marilyn. They then decided to offer a reward of €1,000 and that drew the dog-nappers out into the open. Marilyn would be returned to Kelliher in exchange for €1,000. He met the thieves at the drop off point and handed over the money. He was shown a trailer up the road and told that he would find the bitch there but he was not prepared for what he found.
In an attempt to remove her identification tattoos, acid had been poured over Marilyn’s ears and had caused horrific damage to the skin on her face, legs and body. She had lost eight pounds in weight and was very nervous. She was in such distress that treating her injuries was very difficult as she didn’t let people near her head.
“I kenneled her with Di Maggio to help her confidence being back with her brother,” said Ruth. “For three weeks Di Maggio would stand at the front of the kennel and lick her ears to help cure them. He licked her ears better, it was absolutely amazing as it was the only way we could heal her ears. It took nine months to get her confidence back and get her up and running.”
Two years after her kidnapping Marilyn still suffers from the effects of her torture but has beaten the odds to return and fulfill her enormous potential on the track.
“She is a remarkable dog to recover from that because we couldn’t get her out of the kennel at first, she had been badly beaten and if you picked up a dog dish she thought she was going to be beaten with it so we had to hand feed her to get her to eat. As a result we had to bring her into the house and she has been there ever since, and is trained from the couch!”
Living in the house clearly suits her and Marilyn will have a busy few weeks taking in Longford on 5 August and Shelbourne Park on Champion Stakes night but whatever she does on the track, her triumph over adversity proves she is already a star.