Caption: It’s not Santa’s Little Helper, but former chaser Max Warrior, affectionately known as Tiger, with his new owners Brittney and Lachlan. (Photo: Kurt Donsburg)
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN NEWS By KURT DONSBURG
IN June last year, a young dog named Max Warrior, trained by Lauren Harris and Ryan Tugwell, had his first start and it turned out his name was his life motto.
You see, Max Warrior, aka Tiger, was in a lot of strife in his early days and his spirit shone through from a young age. Ryan recounts the day he’ll never forget.
“One Saturday morning when Tiger was approximately four months old, something horrific happened throughout the night,” he said.
“Lauren and I ventured out the front door to head to the dog shed and noticed that Tiger wasn’t at the fence. He was usually there with the rest of his siblings wagging his tail, but this particular morning he wasn’t. We went down to the runs and what we saw next is an image we’ll never get out of our minds.
“Tiger slowly stumbled around from the hut and was not looking good. He had been attacked by the pups next door and his shoulder was in bad shape … like really bad shape. How he was even walking just showed how much of a strong-natured dog he was (to put this into perspective if I was to put a photo up it would be deleted by Facebook). I ran into the yard and grabbed him – still completely in shock. Not knowing what to do, I rang Dr Greg Moore. Thankfully, even though it was early and out of hours he said bring him straight down. Tiger was obviously in a lot of pain but he just laid still on the hour-long trip.
“When I got there Daniella, the clinic nurse, waved me through the gates and I remember her exact words when she saw him. Those words can’t be published here.
“He was a mess but they assured me they would do whatever they could to mend him the best they could. They operated and we got the call to say it had gone well but he was obviously going to stay for a couple of nights for observation.”
Ryan and Lauren collected Tiger on a race night and I happened to see him as they took him to the car. I didn’t know what to say and my daughter, who was with me at the time, didn’t know where to look either. He had stitches everywhere and drain tubes poking out of him.
“For the next 4-6 weeks Tiger lived in our lounge room while we waited for the wound to heal,” said Ryan. “After that he spent a couple of months in our race shed and, whilst I initially dreaded how a five-to-six month old pup would react to such an environment, he was an absolute trooper. Once we were happy enough with his movement we put him back down in the yards with some younger pups and we truly believe this is what helped his confidence get back to a level that made him comfortable around other dogs
“He spent three or four months in the yards and then was sent back to owner Mark McLelland, in preparation to be broken in. To our amazement he actually broke in very well and was the equal quickest of the five siblings that were there. Mark asked us if we would be willing to bring him back home to start his racing, which we were more than happy to accept.”
I’d always asked about Tiger and how he was going. I’d see a littermate be named and race like Finniss Reign (Hunter) and Finniss Finesse (Ziggy) and always ask: “How’s Tiger travelling?” So I was thrilled when I heard his name had come back and he was ready to race.
The night of his debut at Murray Bridge (in June 2020) he was one of the first dogs I saw – it was actually a bit emotional. I remembered a small timid pup and what was before me was a big, strong, confident dog. I gave him a pat and said: “You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you.”
After all the setbacks, it was his time to shine. He put on his race rug, headed to the boxes and he created his own piece of history with a gutsy effort that saw him salute the judge and showed what a true fighter and ‘warrior’ he was.
Lauren said she would cry if he won…..and she did!
“This win is super special to us and whilst a lot of credit needs to go to all the people that helped, we think a special mention needs to go to Tiger himself. He had every right to show no interest in racing at all, and we would have been fine with that but wow, what a dog he is,” said Lauren.
Tiger’s race career was only short lived with just 10 starts, and after a couple more setbacks the decision was made to retire him. He went out on a high, winning his final start at Murray Bridge on February 19 this year.
Lauren and Ryan were reluctant to give Tiger up for adoption. Knowing the start to life he had they wanted their boy to stay with them but knew he deserved to live his best life and he was fostered out through GAP SA….and that’s where he met Brittney and Lachlan.
“I’ve always had dachshunds as pets growing up,” said Brittney “I can remember every year when we went to the show, they would always have the retired greyhounds in the dog pavilion.
“I always wanted to see the greyhounds and take one home, but I could never convince my parents. At the start of 2021 my partner and I moved into our new home. I knew I wanted a dog and the memory of greyhounds came to mind. For most of the year we did our research – we didn’t want to get a dog who wouldn’t cope with being home alone as we both work and study. The more reading we did, the more we found that a greyhound would be perfect for our lifestyle.
“I can remember the day we applied for Tiger. My partner loved the name and coat combination (he looks like a tiger), so we put in our application. We were told it’s not often you get the first one you apply for so I didn’t have high hopes. However, we got the call and we could meet him to see if he would be a good fit for us.
“Is it corny to say it was love at first sight? It wasn’t even two minutes after leaving the foster family that we called and said we would adopt Tiger.
“I also find that fate is funny. It was on that day we picked Tiger up that my mother had a seizure and ended up in critical care with a severe brain infection.
“We were all beside ourselves and my partner asked, with everything going on, if we still wanted to adopt Tiger.
“And boy, I am beyond grateful that we did! He was a rock for us during that first month we had him.
“We can’t remember what life was like before him, but now we can’t imagine our life without him..”
Well done Tiger my boy, well done!