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Should greyhounds race?


my greyhounds, Asha and Kai running free in the dog park.

Dear Houndsie,
Do you think greyhounds should race at dog tracks?  Do you know anything about greyhounds or racing?  I didn't know anything about greyhounds or racing before I met the Greyhounds Only Adoption Group at PAWS Chicago almost five years ago, and soon adopted my first greyhound after that.  Did you know that greyhounds are only bred for racing in the U.S., except for a few AKC dogs.  It's not easy to get a greyhound puppy, though it does happen on occasion.  
This topic is near and dear to my heart since I have two retired racing greyhounds.  It's a tough question with many opinions and consequences, one way or the other.  I've shied away from this topic because I don't like controversy, but feel that it's important to share my opinion.  This video is of my dogs running free at the dog park and I tell ya, nothing makes them happier than prancing around in the park!  They are goofy, happy kids there!

My heart tells me that greyhound racing should end, that greyhounds should be pets, starting as puppies.

I've heard and seen photos that are horror stories in regard to the treatment of dogs at some racing kennels... leaving their muzzle on even when in a cage, housing them in buildings that are pitch black with no windows, no cushion to sleep on, small cages, and grade d meat for food.  I've also heard stories about racing injuries and putting the dogs down when they can no longer race or not taking them to a vet right away, if at all, when they're injured.  I've heard that as many as 70 or 80,000 dogs were killed years ago, before the adoption groups started organizing - I don't know if that's true.
I've never been to a greyhound race track, though through social media, I've read breeders/owners opinions about racing.  I know that there are breeders and owners of greyhound racers who absolutely adore and love these dogs, and believe that the dogs love their 'racing' job.  I know many of them take good care of their dogs and let them out of their kennels often.  By a fluke, I even found and have written with the previous owner of one of my dogs, and know how much she loves these greyhounds.  
Greyhounds generally acclimate to homes easily after they retire from the track, and have wonderful/sweet dispositions.  But it can take them years to adjust and for their personalities to shine.  My girl, Asha, raced in 26 races in four southern states, and was in a foster home in the south before being transported to a few different kennels in the midwest, before we got incredibly lucky and she 'chose' us to be her forever family.  It took her three and a half years before she started cuddling with us on the couch... I really feel that it took her that long to trust that we were her forever home, and to start loving us back.  In my mind, if we had had her when she was a puppy, she would have been the loving dog that she is now right from the start.  My boy on the other hand, who came from a loving owner/breeder, only raced in Florida and only raced in 8 races, has always been affectionate and my shadow.  
Do racing kennels treat greyhounds as well as I do, the way I want them to be treated?  HELL NO - well, of course I'm the crazy dog lady - my pups are my kids and I'd do anything for them, I love them to no end.  I want them to be happy, comfortable, and to know how much I love them.  My two greys looooove lots of cushion.... we double up their dog beds and they love the couch and our bed.  Kai often climbs on the couch on TOP of tons of pillows!  They don't have lots of fat on their bodies and that's probably why they love their cushion!  Asha's favorite room is the sunroom.... she is most content and at peace when she's laying on a soft bed in the sunroom with rays of sun beaming down on her.  We feed them organic raw meat, organic snacks, and I brush their teeth every night.  They get new toys because they love toys for the first two minutes.  Kai loves his tummy rubbed.  Asha is crazy about going on car trips and she's incredibly curious about other animals.  On the rare occasion when they need to go outside in the middle of the night, I wake up and let them outside.  Am I crazy animal lady?  HELL YES, but that's me!  I also train them because I know discipline is important.  I realize that everyone has different opinions about how dogs should be treated, but this is how I treat my animals.  They're my kids.     
My heart goes out to all the greyhounds and to everyone that loves these dogs.  I do believe that greyhound racing should end.  One of the arguments to keep dog racing is that if racing ends, then the greyhound breed will disappear.  That's a very sad thought.  However, I still think that greyhounds would be better off without the racing industry, and if the breed is no more, then so be it.  As sad as that makes me feel, I know that there are thousands of other dogs out there who need homes, in this country and around the world.  
What do you think?  Should greyhound racing end?  What does your heart tell you?


Love to all the greyhounds <3

love dog. love art. live now.
Kathleen Naomi Atkins August 31, 2014 1 tags (show)



Maria said:

Hi Kathleen, love the video – so cool – they are like two kids playing. I share your passion re: dogs and how they should be treated. It is such an important message. Having 2 dogs myself, they are part of the family, loving unconditionally and being loved in return. I wish this for all dogs. xx

Sue Ann Gleason

Sue Ann Gleason said:

I’m right with you here, Kathleen. I can’t even watch horse racing for the same reason. It makes me sick inside to see these beautiful creatures bred (and sometimes abused) for our enjoyment, or worse yet for our monetary gain. Good for you for raising your voice here and being brave enough to speak your truth even if it’s a controversial subject. And yes, I’m sure there are many who take exquisite care of their racing dogs and love them, too. Hopefully a MUCH larger percentage than those who so wrongfully neglect and abuse these animals. sigh

Houndstooth Pets

Houndstooth Pets said:

Yes Maria, that’s just it – I also wish this for all dogs <3

xo Kathleen

Houndstooth Pets

Houndstooth Pets said:

Thank you for sharing Sue Ann. I also hope that a much larger percentage of breeders and owners love these beautiful creatures.

xo Kathleen


april said:

beautiful dogs, kathleen! and wow, do they love to run (nice video)! i don’t know much about greyhounds or racing, but i am encouraged that you know at least some owners/racers who treat their dogs well. the otherwise horrific conditions that you’ve described are just so very sad to think about.

karen yankovich

karen yankovich said:

Your dog’s are beautiful and they’re so lucky to have found their way to you. I applaud you for speaking out on thus topic!


Susie said:

Love your passion for Asha & Kai and I also think of my dogs (2 labs) as a part of our family, like my kids! As for dog racing, UGH, I also had no idea that you can’t get a greyhound pup for a pet…that’s awful and this is a message that needs to get out there. Thank you for sharing this, Kathleen!

Deb lange

Deb lange said:

I am an animal lover too, and believe the more connected we become to our selves/soul, nature and animals the more we will not see dogs and other animals as something to use for our own sport.
I had horses when I was young. About 5 years ago I connected with horses again and undertook training to be an Equine Facilitator, – a new field of work that sees horses as beautiful sentient beings that deserve respect and that can communicate with us. I was so excited that over the last 30 years there has been a change in seeing horses as peers and partnering with them. There are many people who now have acareages just to let herds be wild.
Let us hope our change in attitude includes dog racing too.

Houndstooth Pets

Houndstooth Pets said:

Thanks girls, loved reading all your comments.

And Deb, how wonderful that horses have acreages to run wild – loooove that.

xo Kathleen

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