It’s Only A Word, Right?

by Betty Zubritsky

For some time now, those of us who embrace the sport of Greyhound racing have had a little bit of an issue over the use of one word. We can get along with quite a variety of adoption types, from the full out “we love racing” people, to the ones who hang back a little and declare themselves “neutral” on the subject. Personally, I don’t quite get “neutrality” on racing, but if it keeps the peace and lands our babies in loving homes, ok. Be neutral. We even work cheerfully … wait, let me change that… we even work harmoniously with groups that are “conscientious objectors”. Their members have seen some bad stuff, and they get to object. They do so softly, for the most part, and we are enormously grateful for them. Because, as much as we know in our hearts and souls, that we ourselves would never be so vile as to endanger or mistreat any dog in our care, we also know that it isn’t all bubbles and lace, and there are people who would.

And do.

So with that admission made, it doesn’t describe us across the board as dog abusers. Quite the contrary, it describes us as perfectly normal people. In all of humanity, in every walk of life and in every profession/hobby/neighborhood and (incidentally) adoption group, there are bad people. Nobody went on a screaming rampage to outlaw college football when there were allegations of child molestation in Pennsylvania. Nobody is determined to shut down all of child daycare nationwide when there is a tragic report of neglect someplace. Let’s not even start on the Catholic church… right? Abuses and neglect in elder care facilities don’t send the picketers out to the streets, clamoring for a One Time Only and Forever shut down of the entire industry. People get embezzled (outlaw accountants?), people get damaged in shoddy medical clinics (outlaw doctors?), people get raped and assaulted in their workplaces and mall parking lots (outlaw work and shopping centers?). People die in car wrecks for a wide variety of reasons…. drunk driving (outlaw booze?), faulty mechanics (outlaw car repair?), slippery roads (outlaw weather?), and any of a dozen different distractions. Outlaw every one, including children in the back seat.

Somehow, not a solitary person is trying to end any of that stuff. It must be that people are of no importance to people. The only thing that matters enough for a nationwide screaming match…. is a dog.

Now don’t misunderstand, this particular dog has captured my soul, and he is more important to me than an awful lot of those people we riffled through in the paragraph above, and maybe the folks trying to end my life are of the same mindset. Or maybe they’ve found a really cool way to suck donations from an unsuspecting public… a public that doesn’t care any more than they do about abused children and raped waitresses.

The adoption groups we find offensive are the ones that insist that they are “Rescue Groups”. They falsely describe things they have never seen, and do not intend to ever see. Invitations go utterly ignored. “Come! We’ll show you!!” Not only do they not respond, they declare that no invitation was ever made. Dang, these people are tough.

They trot out injury numbers that they themselves admit are made up. We have documents that describe an injury rate of less than .04 % (for clarity, that point zero four percent), and that includes (because we are required to report them) things as minor as a strained muscle or a spider bite. These “rescuers” will turn a flippin’ spider bite into a broken leg somehow. I promise, they have.

Our dogs live in climate controlled kennels with crates of perfectly adequate dimensions recommended and approved by the HSUS for pets of their size. Some of our little teeny girlies could reasonably use a size smaller. Dogs are “denners”, meaning that they prefer to sleep in a small cozy space. Go watch a National Geographic documentary on wolves… it’s in there. Bedding is either shredded paper or carpet pieces cut to the proper size to fit the crates. Generally, carpets are doubled to provide plenty of cushion, and small carpet scraps or “pillows” are added for fluffing and nesting.

Dogs are not, as they insist, left untended for 20 hours a day. Frequent turnouts, for pottying, sunning and stretching, gobble up a goodly part of the day. The dogs are muzzled for turnouts. It is a safety measure that I’m sure any intelligent person would employ if he or she was putting 78 dogs out in a yard together. A dog wearing a turnout muzzle is perfectly able to drink water, bark, yawn, nap, and nip his neighbors ear, and some of them are pretty good at taking them off. Constant supervision is necessary, because a naked dog is an injury begging to happen. You just never know when Kootchie might take a wild hair up his ass and decide to whoop on somebody.

The whole “4-D Meat” thing is a bunch of hooey. 4-D is an actual grade in the beef industry, not the fun “dead, diseased, down and decayed” crap that the rescue people will have you believe. 4-D meat is animal by-product, which is precisely the same thing you’ll find on your kibble labels. Get over it. It is, in most cases, fed raw. Dogs LIKE that! Dogs aren’t little 4-legged people. They are predators, and they are omnivores. They will eat whatever you put out there. The object of the game is to NOURISH them as the athletes and the biological beings that they are. There is a science and a logic to it. We’re feeding a dog, not a person, which is why a denaturant is added to the meat. It doesn’t kill bacteria. It keeps it off grocery store shelves because there are unscrupulous people in grocery chains too.

Our athletes are massaged, whirlpooled, pedicured, exercised and rested to whatever race rotation is presented to us. They are cooed and cuddled and danced and sung. From what, precisely, do they need to be “rescued”?

When they grade off, when their work is done, they are still young and vibrant dogs. We know that. We have loved them and known them far more intimately than the “rescue” people ever will. So when we release them, these loves of our lives, to adoption, we get to hope that everything about them is precious to the people who will carry them to the next phase of their lives. Please, oh please hear me when I tell you her kennel name. Please know that he likes to play BobbleHead. Please don’t “rescue” my babies from me. But take them home, with my tearspots on their heads. With the majesty of who they are. With every moment of their history. With my love.

It’s only a word, right? “Rescue”. If you take my dog home as a rescue, you do not adopt him. You are, in fact, far more guilty of exploiting him than I could ever dream of being.