Teachable Moments

by Dennis McKeon

There is a really ugly video being circulated by various individuals, which graphically depicts a pack of greyhounds killing a Coyote. This video, to me, has no redeeming value. It doesn’t focus on or celebrate the mechanics or dynamics of the chase, but concentrates only on the visceral and brutal depiction of the kill.

However, we would be loathe in missing the opportunity here to seize and make use of a teachable moment. Despite what many may have learned or inferred when reading the litany of misinformation and disinformation regarding the breed on the internet, Racing Greyhounds are purpose-bred dogs.

The traditional parlance for that would be “game dogs”. They are very efficient hunters and killers of vermin, by evolution and by nature. That is a proficiency and predisposition imprinted upon their DNA. It has been reinforced by nearly a century of highly selective race-breeding.

This doesn’t mean that the dogs are mean-spirited or vicious. What it means is that when they see something which even vaguely resembles what they have been chasing and hunting since time immemorial, they are hard-wired to react decisively and instinctively to that stimulus (hence, they chase the lure at the racetrack).

It’s not an easily controllable behavior for most of them. Unfortunately, for small dogs and other creatures who have been mistaken by greyhounds as “prey”, this perfectly natural and instinctive behavior has lead to serious misadventure.

Now, like everyone else, I enjoy reading the stories of goofy and endearing behavior that many greyhound pet owners relate to us online. But we can never forget that just below the paper thin skin of that loveable, sweet-natured, couch potato you see draped elegantly across the sofa cushions, beats the heart of a highly efficient “game” dog, an otherworldly athlete, who is quite capable of committing mortal acts easily.

Please exercise all appropriate caution with your greyhounds when encountering other or smaller dogs and animals. While it is understandable, with the realms of greyhound misinformation and deliberate disinformation out there, that one might have a somewhat skewed if not completely whimsical view of a greyhound’s essential nature—but they are what their true nature says and demands that they be, and they have many dimensions. Take my word for it, you don’t want to be re-running in your imagination, your own version of that disgusting video, for the rest of your life.