I caught up with some blog reading this morning. Here is a brief but meaningful blog post by Dr. Anne Fawcett in Small Animal Talk: “Is it time for Greyhound racing to retire?”
This is long overdue. Especially in a first-world country such as Australia, It is time to end Greyhound racing. I am personally against all betting ‘sport’ using animals (why can’t humans only gamble on themselves?) – but this post is about Greyhounds in particular. You hear so many utterly ridiculous excuses from those who breed, own, and train Greyhounds for racing. A classic one is, “They love to run!” Yes, they do love to run, but not the way you lot have forced them to run, the way you train them, house them, feed them, pump them full of substances that may or may not be illegal but are all aimed at making them run faster and not for their general wellbeing, and then kill them (sometimes inhumanely – it doesn’t take great effort to find reports about ‘failed’ racing Greyhounds being drained of their blood and dying a slow death, breaking their legs on the track and left screaming in pain for hours, waiting for the other races to finish, before being killed etc). Another claim these people make is, “We love our dogs, they are treated like royalty, better than people!” (and variations on the same theme.) Honestly? Would you treat your own child the way they treat their ‘royalty’? I definitely don’t see how there can even be any similarity at all. Duh.
As for the issue of fear and anxiety. Panda was a stark example. Nobody from the rehoming organsiation told me that she had such severe issues. After weeks of love, care and heaps of mentoring and companionship from Lucy, she was slowly beginning to transform. Then the organisation transported her to a family in Canberra, who rejected her after only 3 days. I had told the group to let me know if things didn’t work out, that I would take her back and foster her until she found a good home. But they never told me anything, and placed her in their prisons programme. I only learned about this when the man who adopted her sent me an email to update me on the situation. His reason for rejecting her was her high anxiety and fear. The prison programme is a good one, and one which I support, and there, she passed her Greenhounds assessment. Still not adopted, however, Panda remained in the kennels at the prison. I cannot understand why a lovely, affectionate dog like Panda couldn’t find a decent home. I managed to handle her all on my own, and Lucy was her mentor in so many ways – I did so without any other human’s help, why couldn’t any other loving person or family? Many other less affectionate and gentle dogs are being loved all over the world, why not Panda? Poor girl, she has been through so much. If only I had the means, I’d have taken her as little sister for my Lucy. Then again, if I had the means, I might end up with a whole lot of Greyhounds!
Alas, most stupidly, I succumbed to the persuasions and cajoling of Miss L and foolishly allowed her to adopt Panda. Even after the papers were signed, 90% of the caring of Panda was left to me. Panda spent all day with me, save for the few minutes at dinnertime when we ate together in the lounge room. She slept with me, I cleaned, walked and fed Panda, and she bonded with me and Lucy. The very first time Panda’s legal adopter took her out on her own, without me, the dog was tied to a chair, and according to eyewitnesses, Miss L was not watching her, when she took off in a state of fear, and the chair broke her leg.
I can still so clearly remember the visual and sonic capture: Miss L with Panda and her own little Westie…
Here is a more acurate Aspie-style description, let’s see if you can understand this with some empathic resonance: … yellow straggly human hair, sunlight struggling in the sky… white shuddering, black patches shivering, deep eyes enquiring… aren’t you coming, mum?… but, I am not your mummy, my darling… though I wish I could be… goodbye, dear, stay safe, be good… that is your mummy, not me… little white fluffy… bye bye fluffy… fluffy has glazed eyes… inscrutable dark buttons… are you sure you will be ok?… fear rises up in my belly, an insidious fire… pour some sand over it, bite down on the jaw… yellow straggly hair says but of course!… brittle smile… red lips… blotchy makeup… wave… wave… trepidation inside, a rock bubbling in my belly… wave again… so… goodbye… goodbye…
Back to more understandable standard prose now. Well, I said goodbye to Panda, and then asked Miss L if she was sure she’d be ok with the girl. Miss L replied with her usual bravado, “Of course, I’ll be fine.” Mind you, she grew up with Greyhounds, she fostered Greyhounds, and she is an experienced dog handler, remember? Yes, I will remember that for as long as I live. Those hauntingly beautiful and soulful eyes are still vivd in my heart and mind today.
That was the last glimpse I had of the beautiful girl Panda.
Then she was left languishing at the animal hospital, while Louise fought with the rehoming group over who was responsible for paying the vet fees, exchanging vitriolic emails and angry telephone conversations, basically engaging in human-centric self-serving skirmishing. No, I didn’t know that Louise did not even have $3,000 (or perhaps just was not willing to part with it? who knows?) – the problem was, I did not know Louise at all, not until this tragedy took place. Actually, I didn’t know a lot of things, until then, about Louise’s true character, about the rehoming organisation, oh so many many things! It was a huge learning experience for me, though I wish it didn’t have to come at Panda’s expense.
[For a long time, I mulled over Miss L’s rabid accusation that I “did nothing for Panda” – how could any averagely intelligent person even say that? I did everything for Panda! Finally, it dawned on me. This was about money. I did everything, except for the one thing that mattered to Miss L. Money. I had no money to give to her for Panda’s vet fees. Actually, I had made it very clear from the outset, but nothing I said meant a thing to this woman, whose only focus is on herself and what she can gain from other people and the situation at hand. This accusation was all about money. Come to think of it, saying she only needed two weeks but staying for three months, stealing from me, cheating the landlord of rent while using the house as a pit stop towards attaining her ‘dream abode’ etc – all her actions from beginning to end, emerged from the same root. How could I be so naive? But this is not about me. I apologise for the digression. Back to the more important things.]
Panda was saved when Greyhound Rescue stepped in and volunteered to pay for the operation, and they took her to their own vet (they are not Panda’s original rehoming organisation). The operation took place another week later, but they couldn’t save her leg. I hope the money that Miss L raised on Fundrazr for Panda actually did go to Greyhound Rescue, as she claimed. If you are ever in Paddington, or anywhere else (who knows where they may be now) and you see a three legged white and black beauty with soft kohl lined eyes and cute ears that flop back and front, walking with a short blonde middle aged woman wearing a thin lipped plastic smile, don’t ask the human why she stole my things and sent me vitriolic messages accusing me of abandoning her and not caring about Panda, don’t ask the human for the money she owes me, but just give Panda a big cuddle, because she deserves it. Oh, and if that woman asks you for any money, please resist and desist. Maybe buy Panda a doggy treat instead? She is just one of the many Greyhounds who have suffered at the hands of evil humans. Yet, in a twisted way, perhaps she is luckier than the thousands of others, those who have been left to die in pain, bled out for their blood, shot and dumped in a pit and other horrific endings. At least she is alive, and I hope that Panda is being cared for well. Who knows, perhaps Panda will be her saving grace after all. Dogs can lift us out of the cesspools of humanity into redemption, in ways that other humans cannot. I hope this for Panda and Miss L.
I’ll leave you with these videos from the ABC.
What irony, that not so long ago, only nobility were allowed to own Greyhounds. They are such regal, elegant and magnificent creatures, they really do deserve to be owned and loved by all people with noble hearts. Perhaps it is time us humans – whether neurotypical, autistic or whatever else – gather in us whatever shreds of empathy we have, to do something. A small something. Please, let’s end Greyhound racing!
Not enough? Here are more links for your perusal.
Greyhound Racing – don’t bet on it – Facebook page.
Gone are the Dogs – website.