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Newman: NASCAR racer goes to the dogs

October 12th, 2006, 07:14 PM
CATAWBA COUNTY, North Carolina (CNN) -- I have always been around dogs.

Growing up in rural Indiana, our dogs were indoor-outdoor dogs. When we went to the track for junior racing, we brought our dogs. They were part of the family.

There was one who I used to play with a lot. I named her Lady. She was a yellow Lab, and when we got her one winter, I used to kick snow up at her and she would jump up and down and looked like a polar bear, all white and fluffy, playing in the snow.

One Easter Sunday, we went to my grandmother's for the holiday, and we came home and Lady wasn't there. We never thought she'd go anywhere, but she did. Since we lived by a toll road, Lady didn't make it and was hit and killed by a car. My dad found her.

I still feel that loss, and think about it now and then. We were responsible dog owners. But even so, something like that happened. I wonder if that Easter Sunday is not part of the reason my wife, Krissie, and I have become involved in trying to do everything we can to help raise awareness of the population mismanagement of dogs in this country.

There are too many dogs around and people are not doing enough to take the proper steps to care for them, especially where I live down in North Carolina.

NASCAR is all about speed and action, bright colors, big money and intense competition. Being a driver is like living a dream for me. It's a great job, one that comes with many privileges, sure, but also with many responsibilities. People listen to drivers. So, once I started winning poles and races, Krissie and I wanted to contribute off the track as well.

To that end, we have started a foundation and contributed $400,000 to help build a state-of-the-art facility, the Ryan Newman Foundation Spay and Neuter Clinic in Catawba County, North Carolina.

We do our best to talk to people about the need to spay and neuter their dogs -- and about how if you are going to get a new puppy, you don't need to go to a pet store and spend $800 on a pure breed, designer dog. It's best to go to a shelter, where there are lots of wonderful dogs eager to be adopted, dogs who will appreciate you and love you even more, having been through all the trials and tribulations of staying alive!

Krissie and I have four dogs -- Digger, Harley, Mopar and Socks. They are all rescue dogs. Harley is a Lab mix, either part pit bull or boxer, and she's just weird. We call her "crackhead" because she's either totally excited like when we come home or just passed out on the floor at night. We couldn't have more fun with all of our dogs.

For some reason, maybe it has to do with the weather, the problem of overpopulation for dogs is not as bad in the northeast. In fact, when we went to race up in Loudon, New Hampshire, this year, Greg Biffle, another driver who works with animal safety awareness, and I flew some dogs from down South to Loudon where they actually have demand for shelter adoption. For Greg, his girlfriend Nicole, Krissie and I, that was exciting; we were able to save the lives of dogs who otherwise would have been euthanized.

There are many other foundations run by NASCAR teams and drivers. There are drivers involved with make-a-wish programs, with autism awareness and more. We wanted to make our mark with something that would differentiate us and settled on animals. It's funny, there are a lot of animals around the Nextel Cup circuit. To help raise money for our foundation, we put together a book called Pit Road Pets, all about NASCAR people and their pets. Some drivers bring their dogs and cats on their private planes and take them to the track. Driver Tony Stewart is unique in his choice of animals. In addition to a Chihuahua, Tony has a tiger and a monkey that he boards at a zoo.

I'm a big fisherman, and our foundation also supports freshwater conservation, as well as a scholarship fund -- the Rich Vogler Scholarship Fund -- named after a driver I admired growing up. So, in addition to humane treatment of animals, we support conservation and education.

I know that Lady would be proud of what we are doing

October 13th, 2006, 10:27 AM
What is the name of this driver?

October 13th, 2006, 01:08 PM
Ryan Newman and this is the site.

October 13th, 2006, 01:14 PM
Or this one:
He's got petfinder links on there.:love: