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!