By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


Nervous?
– Very much. But so is he.
And that’s great. This is the story
of Béatrice Steiner, who dared to
give up her well paid job as a
manager in Switzerland, to search for happiness on
greyhound racing tracks in Ireland. Do you want to
get out? Huh? Yeah. Where do we
want to put this? Yeah, wait,
wait, wait! There. Like this. Greyhound racing is
a tradition across Ireland. For almost 100 years the Irish have let their dogs compete
against each other on racetracks. Nobody has been waiting for a woman, moreover a
foreigner to get involved in this. But for seven years Béatrice
Steiner has been doing just that. On her farm near Cavan not
far from the border with Northern Ireland she lives with 80 greyhounds –
some that she owns and others, which she breeds, raises,
schools and trains for customers, Slowly! Hey! This isn’t always well received
by the old-established Irish. “In the beginning, many
people found it very odd and they didn’t
take me seriously. They thought:
“They’ll be gone in a year.” Indeed many foreigners have
tried to succeed before us. But no Swiss has
stayed for very long. There are a few Germans here, but
most of them stopped at some point – simply because … It is just a completely
different culture here. It’s… You are not
taken seriously. It is a large
group of people who do greyhound racing. They’ve all been
friends since childhood. It’s really difficult, to
get accepted in this circle. But the 48-year-old
prefers to spend time with her dogs instead
of people anyway. One of her great
hopes is Swiss Jet. He belongs to a
group of Swiss friends, the Team Swiss Syndicate,
and has a market value of 4’000 Fr. Swiss Jet will have to defend
his value in a few days at the biggest race
track In the country. For Steiner it is not only
about winning or losing, but also a matter of pride. When I escort him to
the start and parade, and every dog is
presented to the crowd … and I hear then
“Owner: Team Swiss Syndicate.” I am of course very proud. I like hearing that. I am very Swiss,
I feel Swiss. I am here in Ireland
because of greyhound racing, and not so much because
of the country and the people. In the end, you
often move abroad for a job and if you are then able to represent Switzerland it fills you with pride. Are you Swiss? Hm? For Steiner there was no question
which country she want to move to. The fastest greyhounds
come from Ireland. Therefore this is the best place for
her to turn her ambitions into success. Natalie Abedi is
Béatrice Steiner’s partner. Together they
run the farm. The coach brings the
food. Come here! Are you hungry? Thank you. No fighting!
Everybody gets something. No, stop it
now! Be nice! The 38-year-old
photographer from Darmstadt has been in love with greyhounds
since she was a teenager. The two women knew each
other for just three months, when they came
here to this foreign country. Hello, hello, hello. I have something for everyone.
Chippy, come here! Come here! Here’s your bowl.
Come here, baby! No, you are Guido. You know,
you’re not supposed to eat there. You’re not allowed to eat there at all.
Chippy, you stay here. Let’s go. They love that turkey. They take it out of your bucket,
before you pour it out. Whereas, the one up
there weren’t that hungry. KC and All’s?
– No, Salomon. Here?
– Here? Yes. If you only knew, what
they had for breakfast. I breed them, I’m bringing
them into the world, I am there for the little ones from
the first minute of their lifes. And from a certain point on
I’m deliberately giving them to her. Because of the way she then
deals with these little creatures, my love and my respect for
her grows more and more, because it simply
makes so much sense and is so incredibly beautiful. Surprisingly, the relationship
between the two women hardly caused any reactions – despite Ireland
being a Catholic conservative country. For the people here it was
simply not a topic, they say. Lunch time!
Come here! You are a baby, yes. So, let’s go!
No, everybody’s eating. Mommy will be right back. A foreign woman, who claims her place in
a male-dominated industry, has however
caused quite a stir. Certain other trainers told right
Béatrice Steiner to her face, what they think of it. Stewart ones visited me. We talked to each
other, and he said: “Only the Irish men
can train a greyhound.” That was a very clear message.
– How long were you here? A week?
– A week? Or a month. Made a big impression on you, didn’t it?
– Yeah, I was very impressed. Yes, we do face
various challenges here. Here you are only someone if you win one of the big races. At least that’s how many Irish
see it. We are happy anyway. But for many it is
only about winning. No?
– Mm. Second or third
doesn’t count here. You must win. That’s not
quite what we’re looking for. Also Steiner’s former life
was all about performance. Before the Mechanical
and Business Engineer made her drop out dream
come true she had for years worked in leading positions at
various medical-technology companies. Also back then only top
performances counted as success. Do you sometimes miss the
everyday life, you had in Switzerland? If even my underwear is wet, yes. But otherwise not at all. Now I am responsible
for the dogs and myself. I can do everything
the way I think it is right. And I can make
the best out of it. As a manager it got
harder and harder. Because you you are not only
responsible for the people but you also have to
make the bosses … … and the
shareholders happy. That’s just… … not so easy anymore, especially if the figures
do not steadily increase. And here …
I don’t really care, as long as I
have something to eat and can feed my
dogs, I am happy. For the manager there
was only one way to happiness: Leaving large corporations and living
a more honest and down-to-earth life in an environment that has
always been more appealing to the dog-trainer
than the top floor. Good morning. How are you?
– I’m good. How are you? Have you planned any holidays? I’ll travel to
Switzerland next week. It’s my mother’s birthday. Nice. How is the
weather there? Very warm.
– Yeah? Too warm for us. Okay, lovely.
– Alright, thank you very much. Thank you. Take care, bye! With the coaching commissions, Steiner makes
a name for herself. But it is the breeding and schooling
of the dogs that brings the money. Therefore, in the first
years a lot of savings went into
the big dream. For one year the farm has
now been supporting itself. Despite that, there is still
not much money left for luxury. Is this simple life a
win or a loss for you? For me this is
only temporary. I don’t think, it will
be like that forever. That is why it
is a win for me. Because I think, I will probably
never have the chance again to live a simple life like that. To heat with coal or wood, to switch on the heat if I need warm water. You have to anticipate
everything you do. Dog-free moments are
extremely rare for the two women – at least yet,
because at some point they hope to have more
time for their relationship again, away from the dogs. Field, meadow, racetrack
and sometimes even turnstile: Steiner had to become creative, to
keep all her dogs active and entertained. With different training
methods and fresh food, enriched with
vitamins, fats and oils she helps her dogs
to perform well. But ultimately, even animals
need a talent for racing – a congenital
winner gene. The care of the animals
requires knowledge. Steiner has acquired it
during her orthopaedic training as well as during
specialised seminars. But in the end it is mainly
the 25 years of experience, thanks to which she can
immediately interpret any atypical movement and every
weird barking of the dog. No, this won’t hurt. I treat him
with ultrasound. He’s twisted his
ankle in the meadow. It is not a race injury. He is a little fidgety frog. But, uh…
We can do that, Tommy, right? Then you can go back inside. Come on. There. These are quite small boxes. Isn’t that too small
for such a big dog? He just sleeps here. They are similar to cats: They sleep 20 hours, and in the remaining four
hours they want action. They want to do something.
Something needs to happen. Steiner is convinced, that
their dogs can relax best with Swiss Radio
in the background- Commercial greyhound racing is now only allowed in
eight countries worldwide. One scene is becoming more
and more common in Ireland: Angry groups of animal
rights activists gather in front of greyhound racing stadiums to
condemn the sport in the strongest terms. They call it a disgrace. They criticise
overbreeding, animal cruelty and the cruel
murder of those dogs, who don’t or not longer
perform well on the race tracks. Shame, shame, shame on you!
Shame, shame, shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!
Shame, shame, shame on you! I want greyhound racing
to be banned in Ireland. Completely, 100%.
It is not right! This industry is based
on a model of overbreeding. They breed too many
greyhounds, select the best and dispose the others.
They call them wastage. We bring back greyhounds
from China and Bangladesh. These are the countries they are sent
to after the their racing career is over. There they are used for
breeding until they’re almost dead. Some even end
up in the meat trade. Steiner not
only fights against a male-dominated sector but also against the bad reputation
of the industry. How is it to hear people
shouting “shame on you” when you arrive at
the racing stadium? It’s like a punch in the face. Not something,
that one is happy about. One feels
a little bit attacked. The protesters say, there are
only two options for greyhounds winning a race or being killed. Is that true?
– Not at all, no. The dog runs, because it is in his blood. He wants to run. Therefore, a loser
does not exist. Every dog that reaches the
finish line, will feel like a winner and will be happy about it. When the dogs get older,
their wild years are over, Steiner and her partner Natalie are
looking for a place for them as pets. For the two of them who love
dogs, it goes without saying, that they find a new
home for their dogs. Indeed, they not only find
places for their own dogs, but also for those
of other trainers. Is the industry doing something
wrong, that the reputation is that bad? Yeah, that is certainly the case. Mistakes always
happen on both sides. The activists use
buzzwords, …that work very well. And if you try
to justify yourself, or if you get angry,
it doesn’t serve the purpose. You have to try to do your best and maybe just as well open
the doors and show the people, how you treat your dogs
and what you do for them. That is the only way that these
buzzwords lose their power. Béatrice Steiner is intrepid,
when it comes to denouncing, abuses within
her own industry and she isn’t afraid to
report black sheep to the governing body
for greyhound racing. Come on! When moving abroad it is
a little bit like on a the racetrack. Winning and losing sometimes
lie threateningly close together. The love for animals
was worth the risk, even though Steiner
had to give up a lot. I left a lot behind. I left my family
and friends behind, I left a place behind,
I felt comfortable in, in which I knew
how things work and how to behave. I left behind my home. Here, I am
simply Béatrice. The people here knew nothing
about me, and nobody cared. I had to prove myself first. In the meantime it is quite clear, I am Béatrice the greyhound trainer. I belong with the
Shelbourne Park trainers, in fact to the top 25
trainers in the country. They take me
more and more seriously, they follow the
races of my dogs they know the results
they have achieved. They congratulate me.
I am being noticed. The surrounding may
have changed fundamentally, but Steiner did not. She
still lives for her profession. But instead of performance-obsessed
corporate bosses now the dogs are
dictating her everyday life. No matter if she is walking,
cooking or watching TV: For the past 30 years Steiner has hardly ever
been seen without a greyhound at her side. The greyhound is
my purpose in life. I like being there for the dog, and
in return he gives me a lot, too. He fulfils me. I want him to develop
his own character and in the end show
me what he is capable of. Grand finale. The big race
in Shelbourne Park, Dublin, the most important racecourse in the
country. Whoever wins here is someone. Hello! Three and a half years of rearing,
dozens of hours of training: Will the hard work pay off? Will her Swiss Jet be
on the winner’s podium? Swiss Jet!
– Yes. 70 pounds. Great, thank you. I need to pay. Todays race is about prestige,
a prize money of 2’500 Fr, but especially about the question,
whether also woman and a foreigner can train a greyhound
to become a champion. Black Marble Sky, yes! Now there is nothing we can
do anymore – just hoping. Nervous?
– Very. Now it starts … too early!
No, it’s too early. Good! Good position! Number one is faster. That’s
what I expected. But he can… … he can at
least set the scene. Third bend,
pretty tight. He goes far, as always,
to build up momentum. And now to the finish line! Come, come, come, come!
Second! Great! Only a few milliseconds apart
from victory. 450 Fr. prize money. Yes! Come here!
Come here! Come here! A solid performance, that make Steiner and the
Swiss owners of Swiss Jet proud. Happy?
– Yes! It’s amazing! It could not have been better. Second with those
strong competitors. Great! Good start. Healthy. He had fun. Everything is great. I always have trouble, taking off the racing blanket, because somehow I’m more
out of breath than the dog. Just because of all the excitement
and the adrenaline rush. It’s madness. Hm? Yeah, good job. For Béatrice Steiner
happiness is a fast dog. And he does not even have
to be the fastest in the race.


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