There’s probably only one time in his life when Reas finished last. That’s when he was the final puppy in a litter of five to go to his new home three years ago.
That was obviously not his doing. Four other owners passed over him for various reasons.
And now the muscular, 51-pound Whippet, owned by Lindsay Gluth and Matt Manetti, of Michigan City, Indiana, is America’s No. 1 speed demon earlier this month after winning Fastest Dogs USA on ESPN and a week later the American Kennel Club’s Fast CAT Invitational in Florida.
To put it in perspective, winning back-to-back events of their magnitude is akin to coming out on top in two consecutive Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cups, etc. You get the idea!
“It was certainly a week to remember,” a radiant Gluth says. “We love that he has been able to do all these things, and do them well. Even better, he has never been injured or hurt playing all the sports he loves.”
At three years old, Reas is in his prime. “What he’s accomplished this year is an incredible feeling. We are proud, thrilled, and excited for what the next year will bring. Everyone has the best dog, but he’s a special dog. The one that changes the game for you and makes you want to do more, train better, and travel a little further.”
How Does a Dog Become So Fast?
In winning both events, Reas was a picture of consistency. His two runs over the 100-yard grass track at the ESPN competition were 5.749 and 5.823 seconds which averaged 35.36 miles per hour. At the AKC Invitational, it was 5.769 seconds. In both events, a Greyhound was runner-up, less than one-tenth of a second behind.
So what separates those two? Is it preparation? Or weather conditions? Or something else?
“It’s hard to nail down,” concedes Gluth. “We do the same routine each time we’re up. The tenths of a second are all how the dog runs, whether he’s on the stretch at the finish line or the recoil of his stride. It could be about the start. Did he have a nice push-off or did he slip on the take-off because he was so excited. The humidity and rain are factors, too. And, of course, you have to have a good lure operator. It can’t be easy to go from a Corgi to a Whippet, to a Dachshund, and back to a Greyhound.
“Every dog has a perfect condition. For us, it is soft ground, temps between 70-80 degrees and not too humid, with a long run after the finish line. We generally go off the tenth place marker. If that’s off, we know something happened or the dog is not quite right. Every dog generally has an average we’re used to seeing on the clock.”
Why a Whippet? “Its athleticism and versatility,” Gluth says.
Training for Competition
Gluth and Manetti grew up in competitive sports homes. For Gluth, it was softball, volleyball, and hockey from age 9 through college. Manetti was involved in baseball, basketball, track, cross-country, and wrestling.
“We both reference our early coaches, mostly about how to keep going, what would our favorite coach do, remind ourselves to let the bad days go but don’t forget what you learned from them. We like to make certain when we compete with our dogs they are as prepared as they can be.”
That foundation might include chiropractic care, acupuncture, massages, cold laser and regular veterinary check-ups to make certain the dog is in A 1 shape.
Gluth is a veterinary technician and is on-call at an emergency clinic overnight if help is needed. Manetti is a purchasing manager for steel fabrication firm.
Training and conditioning all nine of their dogs requires plenty of resilience in the bone-chilling Midwest winters and sizzling hot summers – plus the owners’ schedules.
Gluth walks the dogs three to four miles several days a week depending on the weather conditions before going to bed at 9 a.m. following an overnighter at the emergency hospital. That early morning routine also involves throwing Frisbees, playing Chuck-It, or a quick trip to a local beach for free running in the sand and surf.
Weekly during the spring and summer one of them will take the dogs to Dock Diving practice nearby. In the winter, they focus on underwater treadmill and swimming at a local rehab facility, where they aren’t jumping for distance rather swimming laps for toys and having a good time.
If the dogs were unable to walk during the day for any reason, Manetti will take them to the workout room for exercising on the dog treadmill. “All the dogs love to work,” he says, “so when we go to the room it is usually a pushing and shoving match to determine who will get to work out first. Reas definitely prefers the doggy treadmill to the carpet mill.”
Last Pick of the Litter
Now back to the last puppy in the litter.
After hearing about the breeders – Bruce and Jennifer Irvine in North Carolina, who own the dam, and Mike and Kara Hattery in Georgia, the sire’s owners – Gluth reached out to inquire about the availability of a future family member. The breeding pair’s credentials were impeccable and Gluth knew it!
“Turns out we were late to the puppy list party,” she notes, “but we still had the last pick. That didn’t matter because the parents were phenomenal. He came to us at 10 weeks old with the name of Snowball. We went back and forth on a few other names and ultimately settled on Reas.”
The breeders asked that the pups have names or registered names that reflect Pink Floyd. So Reas’s is “WildTuck’s Momentary Lapse of Reason,” after the title of Floyd’s 13th studio album. Add to that Gluth loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! Reas simply reflected the registered name with Gluth’s deep love of chocolate and peanut butter.
The pair watched the litter grow up via Facebook videos and photos the breeders posted virtually daily, but never met Reas until pickup day. “Knowing we were the last pick,” says Manetti, “we didn’t make the trip (1,500 miles round trip) when they were 6 to 7 weeks old to see which ones we liked. It was not until a few days before we left that we knew which puppy would be ours.”
Turns out Reas was a chilled, relaxed puppy during the trip home and weeks afterward in his new Indiana digs.
Add smart to the equation. He potty trained in a few days and learned to jingle the bells on the back doorknob if he needed to go out. Throughout those early weeks he never had an accident in his kennel, swears Manetti, and integrated quickly with his pack, learning to respect the resident cats, household pet macaw, and chickens, too, on the 3.5-acre mini-farm with all the accouterments of Whippetville.
Beyond Fast CAT
When the white-and-blue-fawn Reas turned 1 (August 2019), the couple began training him for a National Oval Track Racing Association National two months later. And, wow, did this relative unknown put on a show. In competition with 90 others, he won the High FTE (First Time Entered) Award, given to the highest scoring dog entered in his/her first meet.
The club’s 2020 National was cancelled due to COVID, so fast forward to this past September when the couple loaded up all nine dogs and headed to Roy, Washington, a Tacoma suburb for another NOTRA National. It was a challenging trip packed with numerous stops to walk and exercise the dogs. Again, on the big stage, Reas was a show-stopper, winning two major sprint events.
But guess what? While this four-legged Usain Bolt rules the sprint world, his favorite sport, Manetti claims, is Dock Diving while Gluth points to Fast CAT. Reas has a personal distance best in the pool of 27 feet and loves being in and around water.
You can make the argument either way to his favorite. “Lindsay loves getting to see him open up and run hard at the Fast CAT events,” Manetti adds. “He’s done great and you can see he loves the game. Once he hears the lure machine, his excitement is hard to contain.”
Speed demon, yes. But there is a couch potato side of Reas, too. “You can usually find him sleeping on the sofa,” Gluth laughs, “in a stretched out, upside-down position with his head under the pillow or blanket. If you call him to get up or come eat dinner, he moves in virtual slow motion, making sure he stretches and gets a good yawn before sauntering over to determine what you want.”
Gluth captures their extraordinary bond beautifully:
“We are honored to have Reas in our lives. I wish everyone has the chance to own that special dog. The one that changes the game for you and makes you want to do more, train better and travel a little further to compete. The one that sits on the couch at the end of the day with you, win or lose, and know he’s loved. Because the dogs don’t know one competition from another, they just go out and play with their owners.
“The points, titles, ribbons, placements and trophies are all for us people. Winning for both of us has put into perspective how amazing he is. The enormity of the two major wins this month may take a while to fully soak in.”
Watch the 2021 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin on January 2 at 2 p.m. ET on ABC.