Friday, September 17, 2010

Tortured Subservient Curs

Wow! So many reader comments this week. This subject really has us fired up! I just wanted to say a few more things before wrapping up this topic. If you are new here, you will want to read Ignorance (click here) and then Crazy Americans (click here) before reading this post.First, in case you missed it in the comments, my friend, Leen, from Belgium said this:

"I'm Leen, I'm Jennifer's pen friend from Belgium. I would like to thank you all for your lovely comments! Fidgi loves agility, she competes this year for the first time, she does very well. Only one more run without faults to go and she can go one grade up. Some other dogs need 3 years to go a grade up, I suppose she wouldn't do so well if she would feel tortured ;-)"


"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 automatically think she has been abused. They are very surprised 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"
Leen is working with another group in Belgium so hopefully I will have good news to report in the future. Yes, we talked about going to another country, but hopefully she will not have to go that route. I know she really appreciates the support from the rest of the world.

I want to clarify one thing. My correspondence was with one person that spoke for a certain Belgium greyhound/galgo adoption group. I want to make sure that I am in no way implying that all European adoption groups feel the same way. In fact, not everyone involved with this particular group may agree with the person who spoke for them. I imagine that we can find groups all over the world with a similar stance. I know for certain that some groups in the USA still feel this way. I think the distaste for competing former racing greyhounds, galgos, rescue dogs, etc. in dog sports stems from a variety of reasons. Some people probably think animals, in general, should not be trained to perform. I admit I am not a big fan of animal circus performances. I am not sure I like seeing tigers jumping through hoops and sitting on pedestals. But if I ran a tiger adoption group, I would research the life of a performing tiger before creating a policy about it. I would want to know if such activities actually improve the tiger's life or not. I think some people simply put all animals into this category including dogs. Some of the comments from the last two posts pointed out that dogs evolved into what they are today by "working" with humans. So true! The genetics in so many dogs today crave purpose in life. Since most of us don't keep livestock, haul supplies across the tundra, or hunt for our food, it is so wonderful that we have activities and sports to satisfy dogs that still need to work. Some dogs are perfectly happy holding down the furniture while the humans are at work, but dog sports are an excellent outlet for high energy cousins.Another concern may deal with training methods. There are so many different training methods that you simply cannot make a general judgement about training. They can be positive, negative, or anywhere in between. Obedience training can still be very compulsive with emphasis on correcting mistakes. However, over the years the emphasis has switched towards the positive. Trainers are seeing that positive training is an option, it works, and the dogs are happier. Agility is especially positive. You simply cannot force a dog to run an agility course as fast as he can off leash. The dog has to enjoy doing it or they simply refuse. If an adoption group is concerned with training, they should be concerned with regular pet owners as well. You might as well not place any greyhounds because a misinformed adopter may still rub a nose in a potty accident or scold an anxious dog that trashed the house when left home alone. At least agility and obedience competitors are often seeking feedback from other competitors, trainers, or classes.
Other folks might have a problem with competition. Activities in the backyard are fine, but travel to an arena, add judges, timers, and ribbons, and pay an entry fee and suddenly the dogs are wronged some how. Maybe they worry that competitors feel that winning is everything and the dogs take second place to that. I can respect that concern, but it is not what I see. These are our pets and family first. We spend this much time with our dogs because we love them. In my circle of agility friends, I know women who were able to leave an abusive relationship, survive a divorce, or simply combat loneliness because of an agility dog. Agility class is where she made new friends and agility trials give her a reason to leave the house on Saturday. I can't think of a more dignifying purpose for a dog (especially a rescue dog) than to save some one's life, but that is just my opinion.
Riley found this tennis ball on one of our hikes recently. Despite carrying it for several minutes, she refused to hold onto it while I snapped a photo. Subservient cur my ass!


jcp said...

Great post. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it is worth stressing that racing does not necessarily = abuse (although there are certainly cases of it). There are good and bad trainers as in any industry. A good trainer values their dogs and treats them well during their racing career and sometimes at considerable expense to themselves pays to house the dogs after their careers until an adoption agency can absorb them. There is certainly room for a lot of differing opinion about the morality of racing for profit through gambling and whether it has a place in our society but I think there is ample evidence there are many good trainers that provide a high standard of care and do not physically or mentally abuse the dogs.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Yes, I would agree that is true in the USA. Its always the bad owners and trainers that make the news. But we've had racing owners that continue to pay board until there is an opening in an adoption program and tack on an extra $100 to defray the vet and transportation costs. Just last week, someone adopted 2 littermates and the racing owner wanted us to pass on his email address so he could keep in touch with the new adopter. My sister's greyhound's racing owner insisted she to adoption despite the trainer not liking her at all. So there are good folks out there. And in the USA, we have lots of happy, well adjusted greyhounds available. And those that are shy... are often just born that way and often improve when someone takes the time to work with them.

Karen said...

Thank you for your post and others' comments.

I think racing is going away anyway due to economics and competition for the gambling dollar from casinos, so it's probably a moot point. In fact, in Wisconsin the last track closed last year not because of legislative action but due to economics. It's almost a shame, because Wisconsin had strong regulations about the treatment of the dogs during and after racing. A few years ago, I visited the track where my previous hound raced and met her trainer, and I have no doubt that she had a purposeful, good life there. I wish a lot of the recent legislation to close tracks in the northeast had instead focused on making racing safe for dogs and requiring adoption post-career.

I find it a shame that the bad trainers make news and somehow that means all racing should be banned, while Animal Planet has a whole series of shows about bad pet owners, but no one suggests pet ownership should be banned.

I know of non-greyhound dogs that were lovingly raised from puppies and are shy or have fears of "met with hats" or "brooms" or "ceiling fans." Yet when a "rescue" dog of any breed shows the same behavior, it's suddenly because he/she was tortured by a man with a hat carrying a broom in a room with a ceiling fan. Instead of just the fact that their doggy brain can't quite figure out what that thing is and is showing instinctive caution. That's not to say that dogs that are abused don't develop fears as a result, but that shouldn't be the first cause we jump to.

Anyway, sorry for the long comment. I struggle to interact with so much of the greyhound adoption community because I have different feelings about racing, dogs with jobs, etc. It's nice to see there is a variety of opinion about our hounds, and their previous and current lives.

Sue said...

Think what we all want are happy dogs and we will do what it takes so they are happy.

houndstooth said...

Bwaaaa ha ha! Anybody who's lived with a Greyhound knows the truth of that last statement for sure! The only subservient ones here are the people waiting on them hand and foot!

I completely agree with your post! This is so well-said. I look at our German Shepherd who's now going through obedience, and probably soon starting rally or agility classes. She NEEDS a job! It's just her hard-wiring. Our hounds have similar drives and needs, in my opinion. We visit nursing homes, go hiking, take obedience classes and learn tricks for fun. They thrive on the stimulation. Yes, they're happy to sleep on the couch when we're at work, but they also love going out and being in the world with us. Bunny especially loves being on the go. She just never gives in and lays down when we go out to do things. No way is she ever letting a Shepherd outdo her in anything!

I feel that we've been very blessed to be able to find enjoyable activities that we can enjoy with our dogs. My life has been better for it, and I know theirs have, too!

John said...

Good analysis, Jen. The one thing I find that is the common thread running through the animal rights/anti-dog sport agenda is control -- they want to control what everyone else does with their dogs and impose their sense of morality on everybody. They can't be satisfied with not just participating in dog sports themselves -- they don't want it available for anyone else, either.
At the end of the day, I find that animal rights people know surprisingly little about animals and their nature.

Kathy said...

Excellent post with lots of great comments. When I decided to adopt a greyhound, I did it with agility and dog sports in mind. I chose one with a seemingly high drive. He would demolish my house if we didn't do sports and activities. He's still and training for agility because he is still a wild child--so he's definitely not subservient ;)

I also have a non greyhound I rescued from a high kill shelter as an 8 week old puppy who had been there since she was about 4 or 5 weeks old. She's a shy, nervous, CAUTIOUS dog, but I assure you she's NEVER been abused. She and I train through her fears. Now at 5 years old, she's a much more confident dog who also competes in dog sports. I truly believe doing gility has given her a great deal of confidence and joy. Sometimes she doesn't want to do it and she lets me know in no uncertain terms. Again, not exactky what I would call subservient ;)

I totally agree that the bad tracks, kennels and trainers are the news makers, but there are LOTS of wonderful, caring trainers as well as kennels and tracks that do take care of their dogs.

I would hate to think the NGA greyhounds would become extinct because of the bad trainers/kennels and tracks. I would like to believe the good outweighs the bad--at least hopefully the tide if turning.

Kinipella said...

I'm so glad that your pen pal's grey is doing well, and I'm sure that her new sibling will be just as happy, even if she doesn't "choose" to be an agility dog.

I agree with you on how people perceive dogs/animals. There have been a few times when I've been out in public with one of my "jacketed" Labradors (meaning they have clearance from the organization to enter public places to practice guide-dog type experiences) and I once had an older couple point at my dog, and say "Oh...look at what they're making that poor dog do." What?! If you know labs at all, you'll know they love EVERYTHING, especially a special chance to be with you where other dogs would have to be left at home. Like agility, potential guide dogs are never "made" to work...they put them into the adoption program to be a pet (or send them home) if they are uneasy or are unhappy doing guide work (and about 50% of them are).

So hold your heads up high and let those greyt greyhounds run run run if they want to!!!!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Great comments/discussion!