Hello everyone, I’m a greyhound
I think I should tell you something about myself, because lots of people don’t know me and others think the wrong things about me. They say I’m a dog with a strong chase drive, but all hunting dogs are like that really, and not just them. But if people do things in the right way, often I can even live with cats.
They say I like sleeping and lying on the sofa, and it’s true, but I also really like going on nice walks and doing lots of things with the people who take care of me. I love to run free, and when it’s time to go out I’m very happy. When I play I look funny, but really I’m just trying to catch up on a puppyhood I was never allowed to have.
I’m delicate and affectionate, but I’m not invasive. I would say I am discreet. Maybe this is why not everyone realises that I’m very sensitive.
I am very well balanced and I love children, even though at times I wish they were a little less noisy. But I think it’s up to the adults to explain to them how they should behave with me. They say I’m noble, and perhaps they are right. But at home all I need is a little bit of space, as long as it’s soft, cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I love food, and I steal it when I can. I’m a great traveller, and I love to please those who take care of me.
I may seem stubborn, but really I am so intelligent that I don’t understand when I’m asked to do pointless things. I have often had a hard life, but I really want to start all over again and give the best of myself, forever. I would ask you in exchange to treat me with respect.
Born to run, born to die
If God gave every creature a gift, He gave greyhounds speed, and an extraordinary ability to make use of every detail to chase the quarry. These are dogs of ancient origins, beloved by the aristocracy, depicted on many heraldic badges, like the one belonging to the Abbey of Murbach in Alsace, and mentioned by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales.
But if God made them to run, it was man who made them race, turning their gift into a curse. Queen Elizabeth I was the first to establish rules for races, and the first official racing club was founded in Norfolk in 1776. But the big change came in the 19th Century: dogs began to be bred specifically for racing. With the industrial revolution, greyhound racing was no longer the preserve of the aristocracy, but became a real working man’s industry.
The first greyhound race track using the mechanical lure opened in Manchester in 1926, and from that moment on greyhounds became cheap racing machines, also because like all machines they are devoid of the rights of living beings. Machines to be thrown away when they don’t work anymore. Cogs in a system based on gambling, creatures without a voice and without rights, often considered on a par with agricultural goods. The precise number of greyhounds who are born and die each year in the racing industry is unknown. This is because the racing industry has no interest in providing clear information. According to some estimates, 23,000 puppies are ‘produced’ in Ireland alone each year, but these are only the officially recorded dogs. Some of these are ‘culled’ almost immediately: nobody will ever know anything about these greyhounds.
The gift from God has become a curse, because of the racing industry and the greed of men. If you run and as long as you run you might survive, often locked up in an awful kennel nearly all day long, muzzled. If you’re not competitive, if you hurt yourself, if you’re old, you die. Those who are fast and have the right sort of character survive, as long as they are useful, as long as they win, as long as they don’t get injured.
Euthanized, sold or donated to research labs, slaughtered in mass killings, abandoned (sometimes even with a muzzle), killed by bolt gun, sold to the racing industries of foreign countries, starved to death, electrocuted, beaten to death: this is the fate of thousands of greyhounds.
And those who survive hardly live a life of luxury: they usually live in small kennels, only going out for a few hours a day to train and for their bodily needs. They are not allowed to socialise with other dogs, because playing would make them less competitive, less agonistic.
Then the day comes when they stop winning or get injured, usually by their 4th year. And this is often when the race of life also ends for them.
You can help to change their fate: by helping those who help them, by not betting on their lives, by supporting those who fight against the racing industry, by adopting one.
Their story can change, but that depends on you too.