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Guilty Pleasures: a night at the dogs

Posted by indigodream on 29 June, 2008

Guilty pleasures: a night at the dogs

We went to the dogs last night – greyhound racing at Walthamstow Stadium to be precise. We had a great evening – decent food, good service and wonderful dogs. I worry a lot about the greyhound racing industry but one thing you can’t deny is that these dogs love to run! They seem so joyous as they flow around the track – strong backs flexing and extending those streamlined bodies. At the end of the race they’re so excited – prancing proudly with tail held high. They seem genuinely pleased to see their trainers. Several of Blue’s half-brothers and sisters were running (same father), as well as numerous ‘cousins’ (same grandfather) – all as handsome as Blue and all good runners.

But I couldn’t help but see shadows behind them – probably the shadows of my conscience. I KNOW that greyhounds are abused – their living conditions are often spartan, they are just commodities. When their careers are over the luckiest will find new homes; the next luckiest will be humanely killed, the unlucky will be starved or beaten to death or just abandoned. But at the track the trainers/handlers treated the dogs with care and the proud owners fussed their winning dogs with affection. So, are these the same people who can say goodbye to their dog without looking back – either leaving them in a rescue kennel or lining them up to be put down at the end of a race. Are these the people who will inflict cruelty and neglect? I can’t get my head round it.

Richard thinks we need some perspective on this. Do note that our dogs were not abused, they were well looked after by Battersea and Greyhoundhomer. However it has been scary talking to people on our travels as to the problems that their greyhounds had – the worse being found with head bashed in and dumped in a skip. The Federation of Greyhound Owners seems committed to putting things right. Walthamstow prominently displays information on rehoming greyhounds on its web site. It is a wonder how all these dogs adapt – for example there is Chris who we used to meet on Kenley Aerodrome. Found by his owner as a bundle of fur and bones on a country lane, needed 3 months fairly intense care but quickly got over that to be a lovely (cheeky) dog. We always have had rescues, sometimes there has been some evidence of past problems but these dogs seem to realise they have a second chance and put their absolute trust in you. Oh and Walthamstow was a great night out!

I did go to the dogs, I did have a good time but my conscience is rumbling away – I can’t silence it but I will donate some money to the Walthamstow Stadium rehoming charity – there is a link right on the first page of Walthamstow’s web site.

Walthamstow’s closing down in August adding another dimension of worry about what will happen to the dogs ‘attached’ to the stadium. Richard actually managed to make a profit of £4 on the evening (he bet steadily on Blue’s half brothers and sisters!!); I managed not to lose £6 of my £20 budget for the night (!) – so that’s what’ll go to the RGT. I came home and gave Blue and Lou a big hug – I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to take on two rescue greyhounds. Needless to say, Richard grabbed me firmly by the shoulders and steered me quickly past the retired greyhound stand at the stadium – he could just see me bringing another one home. Having said that, if he saw a dog in need I’m sure he’d be the first to crack! [EDIT required here, Sue is not giving you the full story: We were lucky that in the group was a confined space rescue team so they put a rescue harness on Sue, roped her up, 4 people hung onto the rope (sadly we had no tripod handy as that would have been far more fun), a top man looked down from the top of the escalators and allowed the team to release the rope, steady now, steady, ok take the strain she is looking a bit eager…, thanks Lads, very helpful.]

One Response to “Guilty Pleasures: a night at the dogs”

  1. Greygal said

    Hi guys

    If it’s any consolation, we are exactly the same! We love a night at the dogs – in fact, for A’s 40th, we went to Walthmastow, Romford and Yarmouth on successive evenings! – and we feel exactly the same unease at going. And yes, we give the dogs a big hug when we get back too. But you’re right, the dogs do seem to absolutely love it and it’s hard to reconcile the care and tenderness you see with the stories you hear. I like to think that the NGRC tracks are the standard-bearers for welfare (makes me feek a bit better!) and the controls in place there are very much more preferable to banning the sport and driving it underground to an unregulated ‘flapping’ future. And you can’t beat the feeling of calling a triple in!

    Some good news…the cruelty cases at Croftview have been reserved!

    All the best


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