For Phelan, a sighthound rescue, "underdog" was more than a turn of phrase.
Phelan, a Greyhound, Borzoi, and Scottish deerhound mix, was rescued by Crownsville, Maryland, residents Ted Koch and Krista Shreet four years ago. Rachel Menitoff reported for WJZ when they adopted her, "They enrolled her in a running competition." Koch told Menitoff, "Some dogs get in and they just naturally take to it, and other dogs get in there and they just have no interest." Phelan, however, took to running "like a duck to water," Koch said. "There was a bit of a feeling like maybe she had found her niche, so to speak."
"It is 100 percent instinct. She is laser-focused. We’d love to take credit for the magic that happens, but it’s really all her," Shreet told Ranny Green for the American Kennel Club. "Diet and exercise are key. Ted takes her hiking and on regular runs in all kinds of weather. And we watch her diet closely. During warmer months, she goes swimming in a nearby river for alternate weight-bearing exercise."
Phelan ended up being invited to participate in the American Kennel Club’s inaugural Fast CAT Invitational in Orlando, Florida. Koch told Menitoff, "There were no thoughts about walking away with any kind of win or anything." Phelan ran the 100-yard course three times and then her speeds were converted into miles per hour, averaging an astonishing 32.3 miles per hour, besting "the favored Greyhound," Dagnabit, at 31.2 miles per hour.
As Koch told Menitoff, "Even though she wasn't the purebred going into this event, the fact that she did as well as she did really says that every dog has something really wonderful to offer."
Shreet added to Green, "We knew competition would be fierce in Orlando. Phelan would be competing against the fastest dogs in the fastest breeds, namely Greyhounds, Salukis, and Whippets. We were honored to be there with our All-American Dog and had no designs on doing anything more than representing mixed-breed rescue dogs. But sometimes the wild card wins."
May this be a sweet reminder to all the underdogs out there. Share your "underdog moment" in the comments.