Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Crazy Americans

If you have not read my Ignorance post, click here. You will need to read that to know what I am talking about here.

Just when I thought I would receive no reply, I suddenly get a reply! It said:

I apologise for the delay in replying to your email. I have had computer problems. It is kind of you to send me these links but I prefer to agree to disagree over performing animals. In America you also dress up greyhounds in fancy-dress. To me that is the ultimate indignity to an animal.
Ha! Those crazy Americans dressing up their greyhounds. I thought that was really funny that American greyhound owners are stereotyped in that way.

I almost did not reply until a friend over at A Dog's Journey emailed me me a few lines to work with. I responded:

Thank you for your response. I understand that you love greyhounds and that your opinion comes from wanting the best for each and every greyhound. You may not have this problem in your country, but in the USA, we have many more greyhounds than we have homes. Our primary concern is that the greyhounds are properly cared for and loved. If that includes being dressed up occasionally or jumping over agility hurdles, we figure such a life is much better than being dead. Just as your opinion was formed based on your love of the greyhounds, people that dress up their greyhounds are doing so because they love them and are spending time with them. Same with agility.

I try to remember when tackling something like this that the other person loves her dogs as much as we all do. Attacking or insulting someone isn't going to change their opinion, but maybe we can plant a few ideas and maybe eventually her perspective will change. It will not happen today, but maybe one day. It would have been more tactful of me not to post this on the internet, but it does make for good blog fodder.

Reagan says "NO" to hats!

Again, the miserable greyhounds pictured above belong to me, but they are happy to be alive.


Jennifer H. said...

Oh yes your dogs are MOST certainly abused, tortured, unhappy and unloved. ;)

Poor, poor creatures. ;)

Marie said...

So people in there country NEVER dress dogs up or use coats for them? Those poor chilly tortured dogs!

Jemma the Chihuahua said...

LOL @ what Marie said.

Although I am against people using animals as accessories like some celebs have been known to do, here in Canada, I think it's rather cruel NOT to give a dog something to wear during our cold days. Jemma would freeze to death otherwise.

KF-in-Georgia said...

"In America you also dress up greyhounds in fancy-dress. To me that is the ultimate indignity to an animal."

If I put a coat on Jacey, does she know if it's the "dignified" plaid...or the Winnie the Pooh print? And does she care?

How do these rescue groups reconcile their anti-agility stance against kennel clubs that support and sponsor agility competitions (like AKC in the States and whatever the European equivalents are)? Do these groups oppose all agility competition? Or only the competition of ex-racers? If the latter, why deny greyhounds the opportunity to enjoy themselves on an agility course--or in training that earns them extended time in company with their owner?

And just exactly what do the rescue groups allow their ex-racers to do? Can the dogs chase a rabbit in the back yard? (Oh, wait! That's lure coursing...) Can they jump over a stick or a fallen tree on a walk? (Hold the phone! That's practicing agility jumps...) Can retired racers be therapy dogs? (Doesn't teaching the dog to down on command, stay, and remain calm around all sorts of people in all sorts of wheelchairs and the like--doesn't that sort of thing qualify as torturing a subservient cur?)

Perhaps the retired racers are just supposed to sit in their new homes and do nothing? Learn nothing? Experience nothing? In that case, I can really feel sorry for these rescued dogs--not because of their pasts but because of their presents.

I can't think of one good reason these rescued dogs can't be treated like other dogs. And do these rescue groups make a distinction between what's humane and allowed for an ex-racer vs a sighthound that never raced?

Here in the States, we make an effort to avoid "pity adoptions". We want people to adopt these dogs because they want the dogs--not because they want to save the dogs, because once the dog is "saved" it often is no longer wanted. It appears that some European rescue groups insist on "pity adoptions" of dogs they feel are too fragile to be treated as real dogs.

And that's the pity.

Brooke said...

Wow, this is almost unbelievable to me. I don't see how anyone could watch any of your dogs in training/competitions and not see how happy they are. For one thing, their tails never stop wagging. For another, you can see their excitement in their eyes, and in the overall way that they handle themselves.

Modern dogs have developed not only with the desire to work with and for their humans, but with a real need to do so. Greyhounds are certainly no exception, with thousands of years of breeding to hunt alongside their owners. To say a dog is "retired" and therefore should sit at home and do nothing all day is cruel to the dog, and is indeed treating it like a "subservient cur" rather than the amazing partner that dog was created to be for its human.

It's really too bad that particular adoption group has this mentality. I feel sorry for the dogs that do nothing but lay at home all day and stare outside at the world they're no longer much a part of. I'm glad there are people like you who understand the needs and wants of these dogs, and spend countless hours with your beloved companions meeting those needs in new, fun, and interesting ways.

jet said...

Like I said in my previous comment - dogs and humans evolved together. They have been domesticated longer than almost every other domestic animal. This means that they thrive in situations where they can be of service or have a job! It is a trade - they give us love and do whatever job we teach them, and we give them a safe home, food, veterinary care, love etc.

As someone mentioned on the last post, being in Europe your friend can easily go elsewhere to get a greyhound with very few quarantine and other restrictions. I'm sure there are plenty of ex-racers in the UK & Ireland who need homes and who would make awesome agility dogs! I'm not sure what the situation is in Belgium but maybe these dogs are rare and treasured and hence they can afford to be very picky about who adopts them? One can only hope!

houndstooth said...

Oh, better you got the e-mail than me! You're much more diplomatic than I am!

Yes, I see my dogs suffering terribly! I can't imagine what she'd think of me making Bunny go hiking, either. She's so terribly abused!

cindi said...

I compete with my dog[s] too. Well I did. Anyway...I proposed to my local adoption group to foster. They denied me on an issue I won't get into here, but when I challenged them on it & threatened a lawsuit, they quickly back-tracked & said the reason they wouldn't let me *foster* was because I had a history of letting my dogs off leash & competing with them & hiking with them [off leash] which is against their policies.

I'm truly, utterly, deeply convinced that most adoption groups are so stuck on "policy" they pass up what could be a great home for a dog. Hell, I'm convinced that most adoption groups wouldn't even adopt wonderful dogs back to the breeders/farms/kennels that the dogs came from & helped to make them wonderful in the first place.

I should write an editorial to someone somewhere...

cindi said...

oh, and I forgot, I know some people in Ireland that could probably hook your friend with a great dog. she'd probably have to pay transport from Ireland since this group is only 1 of 3 in all of Ireland & they deal with a lot of abuse cases. email me privately...

Sue said...

Three cheers for you "Crazy Americans":)

My Song loves to race around my dad's garden (luckily it is big enough for her to go full pelt), am I being cruel allowing her to "race", when she obviously loves it. I'd never make her do and doubt I could if she didn't want to anyway.

Sara said...

Great post and great comments. I'm sure this group wouldn't allow a greyhound to live in New York City, either - poor abused girl that we have here is given pats and admiration every time we step out of our front door and goes with us almost everywhere except the office. Yes, poor abused dogs we all have!

Regarding one comment about "saving" greys - we're constantly asked if we "rescued" Bella. No, we adopted her - much different. She didn't need to be "rescued" - she was a perfectly healthy racer who was retired.

Michelle said...

Your emails were very diplomatic and well said. Maybe one day, adoption groups will be more accepting of owners who wish to do agility with their hounds.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just wanted to add that I even didn't ask for an ex-racer. Although I am convinced that an ex-racer can be a perfect agility dog, I asked if they ever got puppies.
A puppy can't have been on the track yet, so I totally can't understand their reaction. I see no reason why a young dog that hasn't been abused couldn't do sports/compete!

I think in Belgium, most rescue organisations look for people who feel sorry for the dogs. A lot of greyhounds you see here are very afraid. Their owners feel sorry for them and that's how they support their fear. In my opinion, that is torture! They'd better rehabilitate them.
Often people feel sorry for Fidgi, just because she's a greyhound.They authomatically think she has been abused. They are very surpised she is so social and happy. But for god's sake, this is the normal way a greyhound behaves. Rescue organisations give people a wrong picture. Oh, I can go on for hours about this....
I just want people to see that a greyhound is a normal dog
Leen from Belgium

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Beryl is a dog first, a Greyhound second. The Europeans would possibly be horrified at her lifestyle ... being off leash a lot of the time and able to just be a dog. Tearing around the river where there is more chance of injury than on a racetrack. But I'm not going to wrap her in cotton wool just because she's a Greyhound. The joy in her eyes and smile on her face are well worth the heart stopping moments she gives me occasionally.

I think you handled everything very well, Jen, and your Greyhounds are some of the best examples around of what Greyhounds are capable of enjoying doing with their owners. Why should they be denied because they are Greyhounds?

Cat Ford said...

Your wording was very well done, it goes back to our conversation last weekend, how some people feel expressing love includes things like not keeping a dog's weight in check. I think it's cruel not to stimulate your dog's brain and body, providing that as well as safe restrictions, are how I love my dogs. Now as far as clothes go... you Greyhound nuts are on your own. :o) I'm too busy fighting the dog right activists who think letting my dog run while pulling a sled is cruel (regardless of the obvious positive impacts it gives the dog when done responsibly).

Chi-Town Bound said...

I just got caught up on your Ignorance post and now Crazy Americans. Now that I have two, I find that I want to enter Zero into agility, not really for the sport of it, but he has so much energy that he would drain some of the energy there, not to mention that he loves treats and pleasing people. Sure, he loves to lounge, but he would much rather run around and drain the energy for a bit and do the lounging later. Thanks for posting the emails.

Also, Hello, my name is Amanda and I dress my hounds in jackets.