Now, y’all know me pretty well at this point. I’ve got some hot buttons. Bad grammar, bad music, bad food…a few political things. But don’t you push my animal rescue buttons! Don’t you do it!
So, someone did. Yup, they did it.
Now, I don’t suppose to know everything about animal rescue, or even animal behavior. I do know what I know. And, I’ve been moderately involved in greyhound adoption in South Carolina for 18 years now…15 of those years with Greyhound Pets of America, Charleston. Oh…wait…I was out for 3 years, so I only get credit for 12 years with GPA Charleston.
Not *everyone* has a background in retired racing greyhounds. That’s perfectly okay. But, I’d like to state for the record in the past 12ish years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a little bit about the breed. And yes, racing greyhound is a breed unto itself.
Let me school you a bit.
Racing greyhounds are raised as pack animals, but are familiar with and for the most part comfortable with crates. They spend their nights in crates, spend a decent part of the day in crates…they’re working dogs. Does that make you sad? Okay. But know this: they are familiar with being crated for more than 4 hours. More than 6 hours sometimes. It’s the racing greyhound way of life.
When a racing greyhound retires to an adoption group such as GPA Charleston, they have what we refer to as a transition period. Each dog is individual. Some transition quickly. Four days…maybe a week. Others take six months to a year to transition. It’s impossible for anyone to pre-judge how long the transition will take. During this transition period, we, as an adoption group, recommend retaining the crate as a “safe haven” for the dog so he or she has a place to retreat to. In addition, during the transition time, we highly recommend crating the dog while the new owner is not able to oversee the dog’s actions. This is for the dog’s safety as well as the human’s safety…and the safety of chewable, destroyable, edible items such as loaves of bread, pillows, shoes, plastic containers, children’s toys…anything that will fit in a dog’s mouth. Crated dogs are not a danger to themselves or material things you may place value on as a human. Is it best to keep crated time to a minimum? Yes, sure. Is that always possible? Absolutely not. Let me tell you a Mary story.
As a new home-owner and a new dog owner, and a woman with a mortgage, car payment, credit card bills and such, I work. Back when I first got my dogs, I was working on Daniel Island and living in Sangaree. That is, as the crow flies, 21 miles. In Charleston traffic that equals 45 minutes minimum, often times more like an hour to 90 minutes. So, since I worked in Charleston for 8 hours, and commuted on average 45 minutes a day, I had to leave my dogs in their crates for … do the math… over 9 hours. Did I love being away from my sweet puppies for all that time? No. Did they still consume food and cookies, heartworm, flea control, and assorted toys, beds, and other necessary items such as collars and leashes? Yes they did. So, to pay for my dog habit, I had to work. To pay for ALL that…I had to work. 9 hours away. And they were crated.
There’s the Mary story. Those of you who know me well know that my dogs were (they still are) my kids. I have never had a human child. I loved Flyer, Free Free, and Coombsy as my own…and Fusey and Chelsea as my sisters (hey, they were Mom & Dad’s dogs…thus sisters). They wanted for nothing. They were spoiled rotten dogs. In the very best way. They got love unconditionally…they still own so much of my heart.
Today I was copied on an email that called into question the need to crate a greyhound for over six hours. In calling the decision to crate into question, it was implied that over six hours in a crate was abuse and anyone who was party to such a thing should qualify as an abuser. The email additionally indicated that rescue (our dogs aren’t in any danger prior to us getting them, so rescue isn’t REALLY what we do) is meant to give the dogs a better life than before and spending so much time in a crate didn’t give them a better life.
Do you think I was mad? DAMN STRAIGHT I WAS MAD. I’m not positive, but I don’t think any racing greyhounds living at the tracks slept on their trainer’s beds at night, or played with squeaky toys in the owner’s family living room…they didn’t get piled into the SUV on weekends and taken to the beach or the mountains. They didn’t spend time snuggling on couches with “their people” BECAUSE AT THE TRACK THEY DIDN’T HAVE “PEOPLE”…so….I think during retirement most racing greyhounds (crated or not) have a better life than prior to their adoption.
Feel free to comment on my blog those who know me and let me know if you think I abused my dogs. Especially those of you who ACTUALLY MET Coombs, Freef, Flyer, Chelsea, Fusey…or any of the hundreds of greyhounds that we (GPA Charleston) brought to Charleston over the past 15 years.
It hurts my heart not to have a dog in my life. It hurts my heart not to have a greyhound in my house. I never EVER in my wildest imagination thought that there would be a moment after November 2001 that I would be without a greyhound. These past two…geez, going on three… years have been hell and the moments I get with ANY dog are precious to me. I couldn’t abuse an animal…hell, I can’t even step on a damn bug. Except palmetto bugs. I can step on those…
OH, I forgot to mention. The person who implied crating was abuse…they’re a trainer (they say they’re a behaviorist, however I didn’t see the degree the person has…ergo, I doubt behaviorist because that is an actual DEGREE) who actually endorses using shock collars on dogs. Um. Abuse much?
If you have questions about who this trainer is and are afraid you might get stuck using them by accident, feel free to contact me and I’ll give you the name. If this trainer never works again it wouldn’t bother me one bit.
The actual MORAL of the story is: before you come off half cocked about something, consider learning. Don’t just jump to a conclusion and present glittering generalities/baseless stereotypes that fit your agenda. A little research goes a long way. I think it was Mark Twain who said (something to the effect of) “Better to be thought of as stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Words to live by.