Thursday, April 5, 2012

Routine cruelty to UK greyhounds? – a true story of a typical UK greyhound.

Routine cruelty to greyhounds in the United Kingdom is a myth... a fabrication... a lie. This is a true story of what is typical for racing greyhounds in the UK.
By Jayne Conway,

Flying Arkwright, AKA Stanley is a beautiful, big, blue dog and I fell in love with him the moment I saw him. I had bought him from a chap who buys a lot of greyhounds but only keeps the very good ones and Stanley didn’t fit the bill. This particular chap will only sell his reject dogs to people who he knows will take really good care of them so that was how I got him.
Flying Arkwright - Stanley

I was so excited when I went to watch his first trial and as he went round the track I knew exactly what the problem with him was. He was extremely fast on the straights but couldn’t get round bends for toffee. He took them so wide that he gave away 5 lengths on every bend. Still, I loved him and as long as he stayed sound and enjoyed his job then we were both going to be happy. His trainer thought that he would be better running sprints because in sprints in the UK there are only 2 bends, giving Stanley limited opportunity to hand the race to the opposition. He really took to this and was a dog that people watched because of his great pace. His trainer was just discussing getting him ready to have a go at taking the track record for the sprint when the track closed. Stanley won his race on the very last night beating the current track record holder by a short head.

Stanley loved winning, he loved coming home without the ignominy of having sand kicked in his face. I moved him to another track where he did well enough but the straights were too short for him to demonstrate his speed and after about 9 months I moved him back to his old kennel for a rest and to decide where might suit him better. Winter was very quickly upon us when I moved him and he managed to break a toe in the frozen paddock. It was the end joint of a third toe and so the vet thought it would be better just to take the end of the toe off. Stanley settled himself down for a luxurious recovery time.

When he was completely sound I moved him to another track and another trainer. He managed to hurt another toe in his second trial so he was off again. Eventually he graded on and started racing and how he loved it, he won his 4th race and I could really see him swelling with pride. Then after a few more races he strained a hock so he was off again, this time for 4 months. Again I waited with patience for him to become sound again. On his first trial back he injured his gracilis muscle and so ended his racing career. I was sad that I wouldn’t see him race again, or see him eager for the chase, or puffing himself up with pride when he won (and he really did know when he’d won). But I knew that the next stage of Stanley’s life was about to begin.

Stanley #6 in the Lead, Bashley & Crayford
When he was rested after his last injury I had him castrated as the first step in his ‘detuning’. Then when he was recovered from that I moved him back down to his original trainer and into the retirement block so that I could see him regularly, take him for walks and get him used to other dogs. I have a greyhound and a terrier at home so I needed to get this right. I had him assessed by a proper dog assessor who concluded that he would detune enough to live with a terrier but that it would take time and a lot of patience.

I might add that I do voluntary work up at the retired dogs’ kennel so I was up there twice a week, but hardly had Stanley’s detuning begun when something happened. Some people had just lost a greyhound and were desperate for another one to keep their remaining greyhound company. Stanley was the obvious choice for this, he had always been so gentle and laid back with his kennel mates. The people who came to the kennel thought Stanley was gorgeous and took him for a walk with their remaining dog, she also thought he was gorgeous. I had to make a choice, did I keep Stanley in the kennel and hope everything was OK with him and my terrier or did I let him go immediately to the perfect home? With a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye I did the right thing for Stanley.

Stanley of course didn’t know I owned him, he didn’t care who his human company was, he got on well with everyone. He went off with his new family and new girlfriend. He tried to walk on water and fell in the pond, twice. He’s chewed the coffee tables and the TV remote control. He’s eaten a display of dried flowers and thrown them up all over the hall floor. He’s kept his family awake through the night playing with his squeaky toys and they love him for it. I still love him for it.

Were Stanley’s injuries caused by racing? Well with the exception of the broken toe, yes. Could they have happened under any other circumstances? Yes. Did I ever think about having him put down because of them? No. Did I ever baulk at the astronomical vet fees? No. Did I ever think about having him put down when he ended his racing career? No. Did I pay for his castration and his keep in the retirement kennels? Yes. Am I a typical greyhound owner? Yes. My attitude to my dogs is no different to any other owners that I know, yet without ever having met me, someone who met Stanley whilst he was out with his assessor accused me of dumping my dog. My accuser wouldn’t believe the assessor and insisted that greyhounds are cruelly treated and are routinely dumped or put down.

Ignorance is a very comfortable state of mind, it allows the ignorant to claim the moral high ground with no foundation. How very nice for them.

2 comments:

  1. Its nearly impossible to open a mind that has slammed itself shut....How sad.

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  2. We like this. Stanley sounds funny. and also because it is just like we have told people for years. our trainer took care of us. Paid our vet fee's and kept us on until we found a forever home, for me (Cat) that was 2 years after I stopped racing and had my pups. He then paid for me to be spayed and have 8 teeth removed. took care of me while I recovered and then sent me off happily to my new home on a trial basis - as if they'd send me back! I still hear on a regular basis "poor thing, it's terrible what they do to greyhounds!"

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