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Norwich Bulletin - 6/12/2005

The Greyhounds Need Help

The Greyhound has a fascinating history dating back at least 8,000 years! They are genetically descended from the southern wolves of the deserts and for centuries, and all through the middle ages and the Renaissance, these dogs have remained the dog of choice for nobility.

The Greyhound has long been prized for its keen intelligence, speed and companionability by society's aristocrats. They have been sought after for their ability to hunt and, unfortunately, race. The Greyhound was the perfect pet for the nobleman and even through the middle ages, when the world was filled with famine and pestilence, the Greyhound lived on through the clergyman who continued to breed them for the well-born.

According to history, Alexander the Great loved his Greyhound, Peritas and Odysseus had his Argus. The goddesses Hecate and Diana both hunted with their glorious Greyhounds. And, the Greyhounds, just like the Egyptian cats, were mummified with full honors in ancient Egypt and buried with pharaohs. These dogs exist in hieroglyphic alphabets! The birth of a Greyhound in Egypt, was actually viewed as more important than the birth of a daughter!

The Greyhound was brought to Greece from Egypt and to Rome from Greece. These dogs figure prominently in art and literature throughout history. In fact they are the only dog mentioned in the Bible, the Canterbury Tales and in more than one of Shakespeare's novels. In Wales, the penalty for killing a Greyhound was actually the penalty for a murder charge! And in 1016 in England, commoners such as myself, would not have been allowed to even own a Greyhound!

That was yesterday. Today the sport of Greyhound racing and the greed that naturally comes hand in hand with anything that hints at money, has made the animal nothing more than a commodity. The once prized pet of the aristocracy, now are born into and live in barely tolerable conditions for the duration of their racing career.

They are trained to the track at about 18 months of age and are raced until they are used up and no longer winning (between 2 to 4 years of age). They are mandatorily retired at five years of age, regardless of their performance and of the over 35,000 to 40,000 dogs born into the industry yearly, only one in twenty dogs will generate enough money to stay alive to the mandatory retirement age!

So what happens to all of these dogs - the ones that are never good enough to race, the ones that don't win and the ones that turn five? Well, except for the small percentage of the lucky ones that get adopted - they die. They are destroyed in the cheapest manner possible or sold for medical experimentation. Yesterday's cherished pet is now no more than a money maker, for the greedy, selfish, sporting man of today.

With the closing of tracks, even for a year, even more dogs will die if they are not adopted into homes - although there will never be enough homes for all the dogs available, the more people that come forward and learn about the Greyhounds, the better their chances to stay alive.

And they make great pets. Greyhounds are affectionate, friendly dogs that thrive on human attention and companionship. They are not aggressive and love being the center of attention as a household pet. They are tolerant of children and socialize well with other dogs. They can get along with cats, but the introductory phase must be well monitored.

They are practically housebroken when they come into your home as they are trained to keep their kennel clean. A nice long walk three or four times a week and a fenced in area where they can sprint once or twice a week is sufficient exercise. They are great couch potatoes, not outdoor dogs and not watchdogs as they are nor normally barkers.

Around 20,000 greyhounds die each year - can you save just one? Please contact Plainfield Pets (860-564-3391), WAGS (203-288-7024) or Pups without Partners (203-567-1976) to find out more about these amazing dogs!

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