WHY WE ALSO REHOME LURCHERS, NOT ONLY GREYHOUNDS
Some of you may have wondered why we don’t just rehome Irish greyhounds but also lurchers, that is crossbreeds having at least one sighthound among their forebears. After all, some people say, they are just crossbreeds, and our own pounds are already full of crossbreeds.
Actually, this line of thought hides an uncomfortable truth, and that is that the presence of so many lurchers needing homes is in a way engendered by the presence of the industry itself. For although lurchers have a history which is far more ancient than the racing industry, with mention of them as early as the 11th century, it is also true that their current situation is deeply affected by the exploitation suffered by racing greyhounds.
Let’s look at the situation in Ireland. First of all, not everybody knows that in Ireland only dogs that have been tattooed by the industry – an operation which takes place at the age of 3 months – are actually considered greyhounds. Since only litters are registered and not single pups, all the greyhound pups that are not tattooed are automatically considered lurchers. And since thousands of greyhounds disappear into nothingness in Ireland, at least 13,000 in 2013, how many of these ‘lurchers’ are in fact greyhounds in every respect? We do not know, but it is obvious that this linguistic juggling act operated by the industry allows it not only to make dogs disappear as if they had never existed, but also feeds the trade with the travellers, the Irish gypsies, who widely use lurchers.
Also, in Ireland lurchers are considered rubbish precisely because they are the dogs of travellers and gypsies, and it is very hard to rehome them there. But it’s not a lot better for greyhounds, who are considered agricultural goods and treated as pets only by very few Irish people. If greyhounds were considered pets and there was no racing industry, the situation of lurchers would also be a lot better.
Because it was not always so: just like greyhounds were much more highly esteemed in the past, so were lurchers too, who were a proper ‘unrecognised breed’ in themselves. The ancient Gaelic name for lurcher was ‘Cu Dilish’, in English ‘faithful hound’.
So, helping Irish lurchers is a way of defeating the culture of death and contempt towards sighthounds and also, sometimes, a way of helping save greyhounds who simply do not bear the tattoo of the industry.
By Massimo Greco
Translated by Isobel Deeley