Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Hound Blogging

You know, we may have to reevaluate our whole position regarding the overlords and intellectual pursuits. Last week we were treated to Rory Goree's foray into the world of empirical research, and this week we have a philosophical meditation on the use of the word "rescue" in greyhound racing by one Dennis McKeon, who apparently has been an overlord so long he doesn't even remember the last time he had shoes that weren't slip ons. Let's gather some of the pearls he's dropping, shall we?
I'm one of the more pro-greyhound and pro-racing done well people in the world. Mostly because when I worked in racing I saw far more good than bad.
 Whoa. What a well constructed opening. Notice the qualifier "done well" which separates greyhound racing into two subsets, the subset "done well" and the subset not done well, although we're not quite sure how the distinction operates in reality. Is it like when the dogs are euthanized by a Vet when they no longer make money for their owners as opposed to being left to starve in their kennels? Umm...for the record, we're going to assume you're seeing death by Vet is the "done well" one, just so there's no confusion.
I also worked in racing when adoption, as a formal rite of passage for a retiring greyhound, was actually begun. It was begun by racing people, as early as the late 70s. Trainer, owners, breeders and track operators. The track in Seabrook, NH was the first to have an on-premises adoption kennel, circa 1980.
A formal rite of passage? Wow. What was the ceremony like?  We bet they brought the greyhound out with some sort of special coat, maybe a medallion around the neck signifying the years of service. Bands played, speeches were given, the crowd applauded, maybe doves were released, or at least balloons, huh? Or you could have just stuck the dog in another cage up near the front of the track and waited for someone to come and pick it up. Tomato, tomahto.

We do have a question though. There were 60 some tracks in the country in the 80's. If the only track adoption program was at Seabrook, what happened to dogs at the other 59 tracks? Well, no matter. We bet whatever happened, it was "done well."

Oh, and one pedantic point Mr. Mckeon, sir. "Trainer, owners, breeders and track operators." That's a sentence fragment. Needs one of those verb things, you know like: Trainer, owners, breeders and track operators are all complicit in the meaningless deaths and pointless suffering of thousands of innocent greyhounds. Just an example. "Trainer" could probably use an s too, but we don't want to get picky.
At that time it would have been appropriate and fair enough to have called those early adoption facilities and groups "rescues" or even "rescuers."
Well, when the options are death (which may or may not be "done well"), being sold for research or adoption, we can see your point.
In FL and NE, where most of that racing population was centered, racing people were trying to initiate and popularize the adoption concept and to educate people about the breed. It was also a time when many breeders used to course young greyhounds in training to be racers, after live game, like jackrabbits--which were pests to farmers, and whose natural predators were diminished in our ever expanding development.
 OK, we're not too clear on what setting a pack of dogs on a rabbit has to do with the term rescue, unless you're about to argue for a Jackrabbit rescue program, but do go on.
The anti-racing movement at the time was trying to have the use of live jackrabbits banned in the training of greyhounds. Their main argument was that the practice was cruel---which was an arguable point.
Wait, having a dogs chase down rabbits and rip them to shreds is arguably cruel? We'd like to see that debate: The question before us today is so stated: Is it considered cruel for dogs to be allowed to catch and kill live rabbits solely for the purpose of training them to run on a racetrack for the monetary benefit of their owners? Arguing in the affirmative, St Francis of Assisi. Arguing in the negative: Attila the Hun.
The way they framed the argument, was to insist that the practice caused the greyhounds to be inclined to unpredictable bouts of bloodlust and savagery, because, as they assured the unquestioning media and the uniformed public, they were "trained to kill!!!!!"
Erm...point of clarification Mr. McKeon, sir. They were being trained to kill because they did, in fact, kill, even if it was just an unintended side effect of their owners' quest to get them to run fast so they could make more money. See how that works? So you're point would be?
So the greyhounds not only needed to be "rescued" from an old culture which saw no evil in simply perceiving animals as having a purpose, and once they no longer served that purpose, disposing of them in a humane manner. But the greyhound breed had to be "rescued" from the appalling amounts of mis and dis-information that the anti-racing activists were spewing. That was equally as challenging.
 Ah, more qualifiers. The "old culture" disposed of the greyhounds in a "humane manner," while the anti-racing zealots "spewed mis and disinformation" making those enlightened, forward looking overlords' jobs unnecessarily difficult. Gotcha.

But Mr. McKeon sir, that was 1980. This is 2012 and while the "mis and disinformation" about greyhounds has been corrected and now they are seen as loving, friendly companions, they are still being disposed of (and sometimes not so humanely) by the "old culture" of which you speak. Apparently, while the public has moved on, the "old culture" is still in place, no? Did you mistakenly spend all your efforts back then on educating the public out of their misconceptions about greyhounds while overlooking your industry's penchant for offing the dogs when they stopped winning? Well, hindsight is 20/20 huh? Think how many dogs would have been able to live out their natural lives if you'd just decided to educate the people who were killing them along with the people you wanted to adopt them..
Fast forward to today, and most greyhound professionals have embraced the adoption concept. In most cases, retired greyhounds are willingly given to those whose calling in life has been to provide this charitable work. These good people, whatever their feelings about the sport/business of greyhound racing, have managed to sublimate them to the greater good of re-homing retired greyhounds. No one forces anyone to give them greyhounds, and no one forces them to take them. They don't have to break and enter into the kennels to sneak dogs away from an uncertain fate, nor does anyone have to covertly bring the greyhounds to them, under cover of darkness and secrecy. The process of adoption, in the normal course of events, is all done above board and at will, and is standard operating procedure.
Wait, adoptions are all done above board now? No one is forced now? Are you saying there used to be laws against it or something? You had to sneak around to threaten people to get them to adopt? It wasn't always "standard operating procedure?" Were there "covert" adoptions before? It's almost like you're saying legislatures had to pass laws mandating adoption programs to get things started because the industry couldn't. Or wouldn't. Tomato, tomahto again.
So, the word rescue, used as a bludgeon against people whose jobs also entail making sure they can find a timely placement in adoption for greyhounds in their charge, many of whom they have known for years, and were not going to be placed in danger in the first place, is repulsive to them. I think it's understandable.
OK, we see your problem. You see Mr. McKeon, sir, rescue isn't about the humans, it's about the dogs. No matter what happens, the people get to go home to their families at night, but the dogs, they're the ones who are in trouble. They're the ones who need rescue because you know, death and stuff. So we might more correctly describe the humans as the rescuers and the greyhounds as the rescued. See? Now that's not so bad is it, to be known as a rescuer of innocent living creatures whose only fault is they no longer run fast enough to earn the trailer payment for their overlords and are in danger from what you called the "old culture" because of it.

Hope we've cleared that up for you. Anything to add Destiny?

Destiny is a very well-adjusted, happy greyhound. She has discovered the big bin of dog toys and squeaks each one until she tires of it and then gets another. She loves running in her foster home’s big backyard with the other greyhound and then flopping down on a dog bed, crate, or even the middle of floor for a well-deserved rest. If you have stairs, you may need to teach her how to go up and down as she is having a little trouble and prefers to leap up the full four steps into the house. She is ready for her forever home. She would do fine in a home with well-behaved children of any age. She would not do well in a house with cats or small dogs but larger dogs would be fine. For more information about this dog, and other rescued racing greyhounds looking for homes, go here. If you don't know about the plight of racing greyhounds go here.

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