Monday, August 21, 2017

Introduction

July 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Introduction

Several good books are available on the care, basic training, and medical needs of the adopted racing greyhound. I offer this book as a companion edition to your existing library. It addresses behavioral problems specific to psychologically damaged dogs.

As a greyhound-adoption advocate, I’ve read and heard the horror stories surrounding the brutal treatment and inhumane disposal of these dogs. The majority of greyhound breeders are connected to the racing industry. While breeders of show dogs do exist, it is rare to come across a greyhound owner whose adoptee isn’t an ex-racer. 

The more reputable dog tracks work closely with greyhound-adoption groups, and adoption is at an all-time high. Still, some shoddy operations, here in the United States and in Mexico, regularly euthanize dogs. It is simply easier and cheaper to kill them than to put them up for adoption. Even today, more dogs are available than families willing to adopt.

Those who adopt greyhounds discover what rescue organizations have long known: They are docile, loving, beautiful, friendly, and a joy to live with. My aim is not to refute that positive image, nor to criticize the good works done on their behalf. Rather, I intend to confront a basic truth.

Greyhound abuse continues, and with abuse comes canine personality disorders rooted in fear and insecurity.

My dog Jesse suffers from a condition commonly known as Fear Aggression, a form of post-traumatic-stress syndrome. My guess is that Jesse, whose track name was Jesstopo, has always been a nervous, strong-willed dog. Track dogs are treated as commodities. They are handled as little as possible and warehoused in stacked crates. Their training is honed to fit their purpose: to run as fast as the wind in pursuit of a metal rabbit. If they win they are prized; if they lose, they are valueless.

Adoption agencies are seeing an increase in younger dogs. In a tough economy, greyhounds are tested early for speed and track compatibility. Dogs that don’t measure up, if lucky, go to rescue groups. The unlucky are disposed of through euthanasia-sometimes humanely, sometimes in cruel and vicious ways. 

Fear Aggression is often rooted in one specific traumatic incident. Adopters can only guess about the incident, but they can find clues in what triggers their animal. Most fearful dogs conclude that a good offense is the best defense. By their logic, if they chase all “intruders” away, no one can hurt them. This often results in a cowardly surprise attack from behind, which can be especially dangerous.  In fact, many dog trainers refuse to work with this type of aggression because it’s so unpredictable. 

Another common behavioral problem with adopted greyhounds is Separation Anxiety. Racing greyhounds grow up in crowded conditions and, when afraid, some hide by blending in with the group. For many, their first solitude is being left alone in their new retirement home. Lacking reassurance from a pack leader that all is well, they can become compulsive and destructive. Although anxiety elicits the most questions from greyhound adopters, it is easier to deal with than aggression. We successfully addressed Jesse’s fears early on. 

When Blake and I adopted Jesse, we thought we knew greyhounds. It never occurred to us that he wouldn’t be as perfect as our first dog. When he wasn’t, we frequently discussed returning Jesse to Greyhound Friends for Life. What stopped us was compassion for an animal that had been scarred by inhumane treatment. We knew that if we couldn’t handle him, train him, and love him, no one else would. We knew if we sent him back, he’d likely be put down.

This book is for those special people who don’t give up on their dogs; and for their greyhounds, who don’t deserve to be given up on.

Comments

One Response to “Introduction”
  1. Cyndi R says:

    This sounds like a spectacular book! I am definitely planning on purchasing a copy!

    I am also a greyhound advocate and am involved with both a rescue and adoption group and also an advocacy group that works towards ending the cruel and inhumane industry of greyhound racing.

    The author sounds quite greyhound savvy and also seems to have a clear understanding of the horrors greyhounds endure while racing.

    My first greyhound suffered from fear aggression and I can really relate! Although Jesse was the author’s second greyhound, Bandit was my first. So instead of thinking they were all easy, like the author did, I though ALL greyhounds must be unpredictable and wary of strangers. I was later surprised at other greyhounds we encountered and my own foster dogs who proved to be easy going and docile. I was 110% committed to Bandit and stuck by him even through things that I could never have thought of. With patience and love, Bandit finally learned to trust again, (although I never would have left him alone with children or tall strangers who wore baseball caps) and he ultimately proved to be my heart dog and best friend.

    Out of the three greyhound I have now, only one has fear aggression issues, and while Dodd is nowhere near Bandit on the scale of dangerous, he can be extremely scary at 92 pounds. However, he is slowly but surely coming around as well.

    These dogs are so worth the effort. You will never be sorry if you choose to share your life with a greyhound and make the effort to help them feel safe and loved, they will repay you ten-fold in joy, love and laughter.

    Cyndi R
    Largo, FL