Wednesday, October 29, 2008

May you live in interesting times

It seems like all I post these days are things other people have written and this time isn't any different. However, I feel I at least owe myself an explanation about why I am doing this.

Well, here goes. There is an reputedly old Chinese curse that goes something like this, "May you live in interesting times; May you come to the attention of those in authority; May you find what you are looking for". I feel as if we are all living in the middle of that curse. Certainly books will have some interesting reading about this period in history.

Which leads me right back to the reason why I keep posting things written by other people. I'm a dog trainer. I've always been a dog trainer. I earn my living working with dogs, writing about dogs. My days are spent training, playing, hanging out with and just in general totally immersed in things related to, for, with and about dogs. a non-dog person I guess that must sound very unbalanced, I however, find it to be a very balanced life. I know I am not alone. I know there are others who live the same way and the article to follow tells about some of them.

So my real question is this, "Why are the majority of people in this country, all of whom own at least one animal, allowing a small, loud, hateful group of beings to take their animal from them? Not just take your animal, but kill it and then make it impossible for you to have another animal.

Understand one thing, this is a thing written in stone and will never change. The animal rights movement is not about animals and it certainly isn't about rights. It is all about getting rid of animals. It is all about forbidding any interaction between humans and animals. It is about taking away you fourth amendment rights which say:

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Think I don't know what I'm talking about? Check out what is happening in New Mexico, California, Florida, Texas and dozens of other places around the country. Those new animal control ordnance's that you haven't bothered to pay any attention to have been written to trample your fourth amendment rights in the mud. And now on to doing away with more jobs at a time when jobs are tight and getting tighter.

Greyhounds – What’s the real story??

The Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners got a call from both Greyhound tracks in Mass. They wanted us to come see their operations, their dogs and how the dogs are treated. The Mass. Federation is made up primarily of dog show people, dog club members, dog trainers, dog experts, dog training clubs, pet owners but no Greyhound racers. I have raised, owned and loved dogs for over 50 years. I am a senior conformation dog show judge with the AKC. I know more than a little about how to care for dogs, bond with them, handle them, encourage them. I have attended many dog related events but of course I was curious to see first hand the intimate and behind the scenes workings of the track, especially in light of the multi-year campaign by animal rights groups who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to end Greyhound racing in Massachusetts.

Mass Federation Members toured both tracks. Here’s what I saw at Raynham. I saw dogs in extraordinary physical condition. As a dog person, I know how much time and proper exercise it takes to get a dog in top condition and muscle tone. Professional athletes would be impressed by the conditioning of the dogs. This doesn’t happen by ignoring the dog. It means getting the dog a great deal of exercise and spending a lot of time with the dog. We went to the restricted area where dogs are kept before a race and saw a room full of contented dogs waiting to go out to race. When a race was called, the dogs going out got very happy tails. They knew they were racing and were excited. The young employees of the track that put racing numbers on the dogs were gentle with them and handled them with obvious affection. Watching the dogs chase the mechanical rabbit was amazing and a pure joy. It was so exciting watching as this is the culmination of centuries of careful breeding and selection to produce these amazing athletes.

I was also taken to the restricted area where the dogs come after a race. This is right behind the track vet’s office. When dogs come off the track after a race, they are rubbed down, their feet are washed of sand, they have eye wash in their eyes on the chance they may have gotten dirt in an eye. They get a big drink and a look over. Some get a wet down on the spot. They are cooled down and tended too. There are hugs for dogs and “atta boys.” There are more happy tails.

We met two of the veterinarians that share duties at Raynham, Dr. Durniok and Dr. Caldwell. We asked about all the reports being broadcast of injuries and cruelty. They had no knowledge of any cruelty. They did say there are some injuries. In the event of injuries, there is a vet there. Most injuries are not serious. Dogs with an injury are almost always rehabilitated. No adoptable dog is destroyed. The track has an office inside the entrance where people can inquire about getting a retired racer as a pet.

Injuries that occur you could see in many professional sports. We know of the injuries in Baseball, Football, Hockey, Basketball. People and dogs engage in sport for the pleasure it provides. Given their choice, the Greyhounds would, I am sure, prefer to chase live prey. But they are cheerful enough to chase a mechanical rabbit. Their greatest joy is running and chasing. They have strong built in prey drive. They are hard wired that way. That’s because they are dogs. They aren’t four footed people engaged in ethical debate about whether they would choose to chase a mechanical rabbit, kill prey or whether they enjoy it. They do what they do with joy, determination and instinct.

Henry Chin, a breeder, trainer and owner of Greyhounds escorted us to the restricted area where the kennels are. Henry has assistants and we met a charming young girl whose affection for the dogs was obvious. She loves her job and she loves the dogs. The kennel was mostly quiet when we walked in. There were contented dogs in extremely deep shredded paper bedding all denned in. They were doing what my dogs do most of the day – snoozing in comfort, digesting a good meal. When they stood up, it was apparent their cages were much larger than many boarding kennels would use. They were a happy and contented lot. We saw boxes and boxes of dog biscuits everywhere. We saw big, roomy outdoor exercise areas. We met one dog recuperating from a leg injury. This happy guy popped out of his pen and greeted us happily, ran about a bit and voluntarily jumped back in his pen. I tried calling him out and asking him to get back in. He didn’t know me, but happily obliged, then promptly snuggled into his bed. All the dogs had buckets of water. All the cages were clean. The whole kennel was clean. We asked about reports on how often dogs got out. He said the dogs are out at least six times a day, which is more than many pet dogs get out. The dogs are in their pens but they all can see each other. They can be social. The girls go out together and the boys go out together but in different pens. Any dog that is not social with other dogs goes out separately. The dogs are never out unless someone is watching them.

Henry said he has tried inviting people to come see how racers keep their dogs. He said only two groups prior to us had come. The rest of the people listen to people who don’t come. So I am writing, as a dog lover, to tell you how it is. I asked Henry what he would do if racing ended in Massachusetts. He wasn’t sure. It’s what he knows. I thought about the hundreds of people who would lose their jobs, including the nice young people I met. I wondered if voters care more about purported animal cruelty claims they don’t examine or about the hardship on people who love dogs and who will lose their jobs in a depressed economy.

So why have the animal rights people so attacked the Greyhound industry?
Some people don’t like gambling in any form. But they won’t be ending casinos or other gambling forms. Other groups just want to end the purposeful breeding of animals and any use of animals by humans. It would seem if, over a long period of time, you call something cruel, people will begin to presume it is true. They won’t go to the track; they won’t examine the truth of the matter. When a group like MSPCA says it’s cruel, by George, isn’t that the case? The fact is that the Greyhound industry is highly regulated. Any problems that might have been there in the past aren’t there now.

The Greyhounds are well cared for, valuable and valued. They are well conditioned, happy athletes.

To me it is clear; a vote NO on Question 3 is a vote for the Greyhounds. It is a vote to preserve this ancient breed. It is a choice against extinction of these wonderful dogs.

Charlotte McGowan

Please cross post to Mass. residents

So if you live in Mass please vote NO on Question 3. To vote yes just puts you that much closer to being forbidden the ownership of a dog of your own. Then again, if you have bought into the "pet parent" or "guardianship" title you have already given up your rights of property and once the greys are gone your dog will be next. That's not a threat, that's a promise.

And I'll end with a couple of quotes to keep you company.

"It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership." Elliot Katz, President "In Defense of Animals," Spring 1997

When asked if he envisioned a future without pets, “If I had my personal view, perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another dog or cat born.” Wayne Pacelle quoted in Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 266.
And they don't reproduce by breeding, but through brain washing:

I'm not only uninterested in having children. I am opposed to having children. Having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog; it is nothing but vanity, human vanity." Ingrid Newkirk, PeTA's founder and president, New Yorker magazine, April 23, 2003
Actually I suspect their chosen lifestyle has rendered them all sterile.


  1. Anonymous1:28 PM

    Give me a break. They "invited" you to the track? It would be interesting for you to see some footage during the uninvited times. These animals are in cages too small to stand up in for more than 20 hours a day. They suffer horrible injuries in a sport they DID NOT ASK TO BE INVOLVED IN.

    Have you even read the injury and death report this industry must contribute?

    Have you any idea the mental suffering these dogs must endure in those cages all the time.

    I don't care if we lose 3 million jobs. If it's at the expense of the well being of these wonderful creatures, it is not worth the biggest paycheck.

    Do your research. This has nothing to do with gambling. I'm playing poker this weekend, and often hit the blackjack tables. I still don't want thousands of dogs sitting in dark cages and dying for sport. What a stupid parallel.

  2. My, how we all just love Mr Anonymous. Ms Anonymous, a most singular creature that lacks the conviction of her own beliefs enough to own them.

    Actually I didn't write the report on the track. It was written by Charlotte McGowan. However, I have had an occasion to visit behind the scenes at two different dog tracks over the years and neither time was I expected. Both times the dogs were clean, relaxed, and certainly comfortable. They were also amazingly well muscled and fit. The kenneling area was clean, well lighted, the temperature was comfortable and the air fresh.

    So, yes I have done my own personal research over the years. And for the record every single one of the dogs I saw wanted to run. You can't make a dog run, they have to want to do it on their own.

    For the record, in a survey reported by Bloomberg and Dugger, there were 761 injuries reported for a total of 47,323 races ran at sixteen racetracks between the years of 1984-1990. Eight Greyhounds run in a race, so the total number of greyhounds competing one time or more included in this survey were 378,584. This means that the injury ratio is 0.2%.

  3. You know in reading your article, it occurred to me that I never thought logically about the dog racing industry, just accepted what I had "heard".

    I am sure there are a couple of bad seeds in just about every industry. In thinking about the rescued Greyhounds I have met, none have seemed uncared when adopted, and have made loving pets. I am not sure that a dog that has enjoyed their whole life to date, and had their needs not met would.

    It's just interesting on how that thought is implanted there, although I have never seen a race track of any kind!!I never really gave it much thought, is what I am saying, but I know that the negative thought lodged itself in my brain somehow. Scary.

    And do people ever wonder what's going to happen to the animals directly after something like that is outlawed? I do, and I am thinking it's not pretty if in a time of bad economy more dogs flood the market.

    Why is it you think that retired dogs go to homes other than their previous owners with such seeming frequency? Because the owners don't have time to meet the needs of a dog that can no longer physically perform?

  4. Anonymous doesn't seem to realize that dogs want sports. What they haven't even asked for is to be left alone with nothing to do all day. Ask my dog Leon who woefully watched me clean the house instead of doing something with and for him yesterday.

    And why do I get everydog in daycare and at the house wanting to instantly become involved in what I am training another to do. Dogs need physical and mental challenges like you wouldn't believe.