Greyhound's Voice - Sunday Scribbles #21

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Gentle dream,... rocks flick up to smack against my belly... I run and run, the circle complete, and I stop, my breath in great puffs as they come for me to begin my cool down...

But this is just a dream. A memory of the shadows of my past. I have many.


My life began as all life does, with the smells of my family and the touch of my mother. And so I grew, long legged and strong, and earned a place with a good kennel. I was a racer, and my sole purpose was to push all my energy into those frantic moments each day when the gates would hurl wide and release me into my appointed task.

But life has quirks, and we can not run forever. Many of my kin disappear once their running time comes to an end. It is bitter, almost futile... to be born, to run, to die.

My name is Sami, and I am a retired racing greyhound.

Here, come over beside me on the couch. It's a comfy couch, I think... and I spend a lot of time here. Pardon that wet spot; that is my favorite pillow, and I like to rest my head on it. That has always been my couch, always since I came to live here. This has always been my family, too, because before I came here I did not know what family was. Look around, at my home, please. It is filled with sights and sounds and so many fun smells. You can ask my human mother for a cookie from the jar in the kitchen, if you get hungry. And if you thirst, my bowls are always available, and always full of water to drink!

Before I came here, I lived in an adoption kennel. Yes, that makes sense, doesn't it? I don't really understand the kennel thing. I was born into a Kennel, and sold to another Kennel, and the owners of that second Kennel had hired managers who kept us. I knew only three Spots.

My kennel, the metal cage itself only large enough for me to stand or turn around in, was my place of Existence. When I left this place of Existence, it was for very few things. I wore my muzzle at all times, from the moment I passed through my personal confinement door until the moment I returned. I came from a good Kennel, and the managers kept me groomed from fleas and made sure my injuries were addressed. Do you know how many hours I lived in the place of Existence? It was never just to sleep overnight, you know! If I was not running, or exercising, I was confined.

The Turnout Yard, dirt paved, was where I voided myself, is the second Spot I knew. I wore my muzzle, and romped as best I could with ten to twenty of the other males housed by the Kennel. The females were separated us by a chain link fence, and they, too, wore muzzles. We were given a brief time, twice per day, where we could be out in the fresh air in the Turnout Yard.

The only other Spot I knew was the Place of Purpose. This was many places, but all part of the same thing. We race on a constant basis. We must be examined and checked. Our ears are lifted, so that the tattoos on both ears could be read to verify that we were the same dog as listed. We were groomed and washed, and our plastic muzzle was replaced by a metal one designed for the track. Our nails were clipped, our pads checked... and then we were lead to The Gate.

The Gate! The Purpose Revealed! I still feel my heart begin to race when my memory recalls The Gate! This was my trial ground. If I ran well, I was rewarded with my life. If I ran poorly, death awaited me.

You are chuckling? Oh... I understand. You think I'm being metaphorical!

Please, please understand! I had only one Purpose! We, all my racing kith and kin, have only one Purpose! We run. We must run. We will run... run well enough to be allowed to continue to run. My dreams, even now, involve that sole pursuit! If we do well, we live another week! But, if we fail, if we can no longer fulfill our purpose, we have no reason to be kept alive. Did you know that?

I shudder to think of the badly run Kennels, and my fellow racers housed within, the property of the Owners. Many "worthless" racers, those who simply do not do well on the track, are sold into laboratories for animal experiments. YES! That still happens in this day and age. Whole groups, taken into the buildings, are used to better your human life. Medical, chemical... it doesn't matter. When you see us run on your TV, do you pause to consider that we are so disposable? Many people don't.

But, there is a far worse thing. Euthanasia. We are killed because we are a burden. Who wants to breed a dog that is worthless as a runner? Who wants to keep a loser on the dole, paying to feed an animal that doesn't bring profit? Please consider a moment the greyhound called Baron Hill. He came from a horrid Kennel, a Kennel with a manager who never treated a single track wound on his body. He was scared and abused, neglected and mishandled. Yet, his heart was filled with a desire to love and do well. His fate was to be a dishonorable death... taken into the field and shot by the Kennel manager... but he was saved by an adoption group who saw the mistreatment. Baron Hill, the retired racer, spent his last few years of life living in a loving home - the same home that I now call my own! He died, sadly and suddenly, from an aneurysm, but he died, not in a field with a bullet through his head, but in the tender arms of his new father. Please hear this: many racers are put to death each year, because they are a burden on the Kennels. Many racers are not given the chance to die with love. Many, too many of my kin, are released from the bonds of this earth simply because no one wants them. Many die before the age of four.

Please understand, I am speaking to you from my heart. People do not always comprehend my situation. They assume that the organizations that are in place protect us. This is not so! So, I wish to take a bit of your time, if you were permit it, because it is so important that I share this!

There is so much love and joy that I want to share with you. We all do. We are just like other dogs, you know? Well, I should take part of that back; we are not just like all other dogs. We are trained to behave. I will patiently stand still while you bathe me and groom me, and will allow you to clip my nails without any fuss. I also stand quietly while my vet examines me, even when he draws my blood for tests. I don't growl or bite when given shots, either. I was trained to be a good boy. But, my experiences in the Kennel have drawbacks - I had never seen stairs before! I had never experienced the way glass feels when you press your nose against it! The first time I was turned out into my new back yard, I could not understand why I was not muzzled, and why I was allowed to run free. This was all new to me, although I have mastered it now.

I, like most of my kind, am content to spend my days resting on blankets or anything soft. I am not hyperactive. I am used to being confined in a small box for most of my time, after all. And, because I am used to the hustle of activity at Kennels, I have learned to stand patiently in a busy environment. I have learned not to be aggressive with small animals (although many Kennels use live bait when they train us!) I love to offer love, standing quietly and resting my head in your lap while you type, or flopping down next to you as you read your book. I have found that children are fascinating, filled with smells, yet because I was never allowed to lick anyone to show my feelings, I do not make a pest of myself and attempt to do you job when it comes to cleaning your child's face.

How could my kind be of service to you? Ha! To be of service is my dream and life's work! So many of my kind would love to be your daily jogging partner, either in the bustle of a metropolis or in the quiet solitude of the countryside. We love to work as Compassion Animals in medical centers, especially when that works means interacting with ill children or senior citizens. How we love to lay by your feet as you read to children in libraries! We are not just retired racers, then... we are Companion Animals! Oh, and if we are not too badly injured from our careers, we love to lure course!

As for me? I am content to spend my days bringing comfort to my family. I make them smile, and sometimes I can even get them to laugh when I do silly things that they are not expecting, such as play with a toy! I know when my new mother is feeling pain, and I come to her in the morning and rest my head on the bed next to her, my eyes looking deeply into hers as if to say "it's okay, I love you anyway." When my new father walks down the stairs, I stay near him, or walk in front of him, to help him keep track of how many steps he has to go down! My sisters, who are not retired racers, run about and demand attention. I prefer to give attention.

Would you be willing to allow me a chance at life? Well, in truth, I have already been given one, and love my home. Yet, so many retired racers are in need of you. They need someone to take them in, to give them new purpose. Adopting or fostering just one means that there will be one less younger dog who is used for research in labs or put to death for no good reason. Please, take a moment to see all the ways we can bring joy to your life!

Thank you for listening to me today. It means so much to me.

With unconditional love,

Sami
Racename: PB Drives On By
(For more pictures, please click here: Autrices Image Page: Greyhound's Voice - Sunday Scribbles #21)


Adoption Agency Listings:

Adoption Agency Directory The Greyhound Project http://www.adopt-a-greyhound.org/directory/list.cfm


Greyhound adoption - Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greyhound_adoption


FOR GREYHOUNDS - Friends Of Retired Greyhounds This is where I came from for adoption! God bless you people! Thank you, thank you, thank you for liberating me! http://www.forgreyhounds.org/index.asp



© The Bemused Muse, 2006


18 responded with...:

Ally Bean said...

that is a poignant tale. so well written. thanks for sharing it with us.

i've often wondered about greyhounds and now i'm going to read your links.

hundred and one said...

Oh my goodness, that picture is just too cute! Makes me want to grab him and go yummmum. Thanks for sharing.

Michelle said...

This is so informative, and very sad. If you don't already, check out http://spaazlicious.blogspot.com. She has some great pics of her rescues--they are darlin's.

FatCharlatan said...

WOW! This is beautiful. I had tears in my eyes when I read about Baron Hill. This is a lovely tribute to the wonderful nature of greyhounds (and an eye-opening lesson on the abuses that abound within the racing world).

And not to get all commercial on ya, but I bet some of the adoption agencies trying to place greyhounds in loving homes would LOVE this letter.

GREAT work! Thanks for sharing this. Keep writing! :)

Peace,
FC

Autrice DelDrago said...

We do miss our Bahbar (as we nicknamed him) Hill. He was a character! Always the mellow, super cool retired track star (in his own mind.)

I've had a lot of email come in - so here are some of the answers to common questions:

1. Will they get along with my other pets? Yep, Greyhounds do make wonderful pets. Adoption agencies (good ones) will make certain they are small animal 'safe', which means your new Greythound and Kitty will get along. Most are good with children, as well.

2. Do they eat a lot? They don't eat a lot, but they need enough kibble to support their weight. They can eat regular kibble, although you do not want to feed them soft canned dog food (it's bad for all dogs, as far as dental problems go!)

3. Are they housebroken? Racers are used to going piddle outside, in all weather. They will need a little extra training to learn how to signal at the door to go potty.

4. Can he live in my backyard? Greyhounds are NOT outdoor dogs. Never! Period! They have thin skin, no real body fat, and dehydrate easily. They can also sunburn. If you are thinking of adopting a retired racer, you will need to consider that he will spend his nights in your home. In cold areas, you might need to buy him a 'jacket' for walks on snowy days. We keep ours in a wire kennel when we go out (he's content, and doesn't realize that the kennel isn't attached to the bottom liner... and has never bothered to flip it over.

5. Are they obnoxious on the leash? They are already leash trained, and most heal well. You should never allow your retired racer to roam off the leash in an un-gated area - if they see a small animal, they will chase it... into traffic even! They average 45 mph at full gallop, and you will be hard pressed to catch them!

6. Do they require special vet care? Your vet should already be aware of the needs of Greyhounds, especially when it comes to anesthesia. But, no, they usually require no special care. Just love. Vaccinations. Grooming. More love.

7. How long to they live? The life span depends on the activity (and stress) the dog had before he was adopted out. Some dogs are "run hard and put away wet", meaning that they had very little care. Others were maintained very well. They are a large breed dog, and if kept healthy, can live up to 10 years or more.

8. How can I find an adoption group near me? The first website in the post is a place where you can locate agencies near you.

9. What can I do to prevent cruelty? #1 answer - do NOT support the tracks or the sport. Demand that guidelines are placed where the dogs get the same level of humane care as race horses. Report activities that seem unethical. Do NOT buy products that are tested on animals.

10. Do Greyhounds travel well? Yep. Most do. Ours moved with us from Colorado to Ohio. He was content to lay on his blanket and watch the world go by.

11. I don't want to adopt, but can I help in other ways? Yes! Yes! Yes! You can! If you live near a track, you can volunteer your time! Most Adoption groups have kennels on sight, and many groups are always looking for foster homes for dogs. You can donate funds, or leashes, or food! You can participate in a school awareness day, helping transport dogs. You can volunteer at adoption fairs. You can put stamps on envelopes for mailings. There are a host of things you can do to support the adoption agencies. All you have to do is ask them what they need!

12. Are there any special things I need for my Greyhound? Yep. Greyhounds have slim necks and narrow heads. A basic collar doesn't work on them, and a choke chain can damage them. They require a special collar, called a Gracie, which your Adoption agency will provide. They also need someplace soft to lay down, like an old blanket. You can train them to stay off your couch and bed, but if you enjoy being snuggled with, they will flop down next to you. Be aware, newly adopted greyhounds are not used to human contact when they are asleep. They sometimes snap if touched suddenly. They do grow out of this phase as they become used to being in your home.

13. Do I have to worry about Pookie my Chihuahua having really ugly pups? That depends... is Pookie really ugly herself? lol. Adopted Retired Racers are spayed or neutered before leaving the control of the adoption agency. These dogs are purebred (NGA, not AKC) and their former track owners do not want them lending their genes to other dogs.

14. Can I get a pedigree for my dog? Yes! You can go online and research your Racers lineage! You can also pull up his track standings! It's actually very fascinating. And, you can apply for an ownership transfer with the NGA, naming you as the dogs new owner!

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. Please feel free to email me if you have any others!

Cheers!

~ Toni (Autrice)

Becca said...

Bless you, Autrice, for taking these wonderful dogs into your home. And bless you also, for this beautiful, informative post about the greyhounds! I hope many people take your words to heart, and will rescue one of these lovely creatures.

How do we put a stop to this travesty against animals?

NuttersNotes said...

Extremely USEFUL spin on the weekly writing assignment. This could make it's way somewhere else. It may need a little editing but I do think that this is worthy of query to a magazine of some sort. Put your good works here to good use to the general public.

Great job

Melissa said...

Wonderful! One day I will also adopt a greyhound. I've seen them at the public "meet and greets", and it's hard to resist when they push up against your thigh for more petting! Great post.

Autrice DelDrago said...

NuttersNotes, thanks for your kind words. (Yeah, it does need a lot of polishing, but I wanted to get it in before I had to leave. lol)

I wouldn't even know how to approach a magazine for publication.

tinker said...

Very well written, poignant tale (no pun intended) from Sami's point of view. "The Place of Existence" and
"The Place of Purpose" - for some reason those terms really touched me. Perhaps because that IS how a dog might very well see the.
Thank you Autrice, for using your blog and your Sunday Scribblings time for a higher purpose! And I second the reader who said this is publication worthy. Most magazines provide their submissions guidelines right in the magazine.
One of the artists who comment on my site also has rescued Greyhounds. Now I'm off to tell her about this post, I know she'll love it :-)

Roadchick said...

The 'chick was halfway out the door to locate a retired racer to bring home before she remembered that she just isn't home enough for a dog. But, maybe, someday...what an inspirational post!

Pam Aries said...

My dear Cyber Sister Terri "Tinker" sent me to read your story because I have 2 rescued Greys and they are the loves of my life (along with 2 rescued cats). I belong now to our local Greyhoung Rescue group in Charleston , SC. Next month we are sposoring our 2nd annual Golfin' For The Greys Tournament. You can see what we do at www.adoptcharlestongreys.org We are affiliated with GPA (Greyhound Pets of America) I cannot say enough about these wonderful creatures! We have meet and greets every Saturday to get the word out! Thank You for writing this story! Please visit my blog to see Spot and Lobo! I will re post pics of them! www.artaries.blogspot.com

Autrice DelDrago said...

Hi Pam,

Spot and Lobo are beautiful!!! How lucky, to have two at the same time! (I've never dared it before, as we already have 5 rescues - various breeds - already, not counting Her Majesty, The Most Magnificent Queen Cat of Pembroke and Other Realms (or so she thinks of herself!)

Thank you also for having a link to the story on your page!

Dear Readers, please check out her sweet Greythounds, and others at the Meet and Greet, at www.artaries.blogspot.com! They are the perfect example of Love on Four Legs.

boliyou said...

A moving story. Thanks for sharing!

Tammy said...

This was so moving and heartwrenching knowing how animals can be treated. Thank you and God bless you!

Belle said...

Lovely dogs!

Great writing.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

harmonyinline said...

Sami is a real beauty so glad Sami has a happy retirment.

Tammy said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Your post from your greyhound is wonderful!

I considered adopting one a few years back, but it didn't happen. I think, if I am ever looking for a dog again, this would be the way I go. But, for now, as you can imagine - my five cats wouldn't be happy with me!