Back to culture: why greyhound racing was attacked

Despacito gets a kiss – the loving bond between greyhound and trainer. PIC: Paul Munt.

THE remarkable thing about the English ruling classes is their cultural blindness. Every country they colonised they endeavoured to destroy the culture, sometimes out of malice but more often out of blindness to its strength, beauty and power.

Every revolution that occurred in Ireland for the nine hundred years of occupation was a fight for culture, once that desire to get “back to culture” gets lit in people’s hearts there is no putting it out. The Irish had a great reputation for hell-raising and jail filling a hundred years ago very much like our aboriginal population today.

Loss of culture leaves a deep gash in the hearts of men and women. The wounds of the stolen generations will themselves take generations to heal.

Two years ago a determined attack was launched on the culture of greyhound racing. The attackers were colonisers of a new kind but still white Anglo-Saxon middle class and operating by the same old rules. The coloniser is always self-righteous and superior, oblivious to the strength, beauty and power of a sport that for most of us was never a job but more a win-win relationship between animal and man.

The method of attack is to disparage, dehumanise and portray barbarity and base behaviour as the norm rather than the exception. Most reasonable independent observers now accept that the media storm that blew over greyhound racing blew more fiction than fact. The coloniser cannot edify a culture and co-exist they must reduce it to rubble and replace it with their “better” culture.

What better culture are we being offered? The innate desire to have a relationship with an animal is deep within many people. For lots of us it is the strongest and most important relationship we have. The critics of the sport of greyhound racing would like to see that relationship broken for ever and replaced with one where the dog is treated as a household companion and denied the innate desire it has to chase.

The cities are full of dogs that are very unhappy. They have been selectively bred for thousands of years to do a job largely by manipulation of their instinct to chase prey for food and then after thousands of years of fine tuning their skills they are told in the second half of the twentieth century we do not need your skills anymore, but you can spend your life in a small backyard getting frustrated or fat or in a lot of cases both.

I hear their frustration every night, no wonder tens of thousands of domestic dogs perish at the hands of vets annually.

In today’s world of sedation and automation there are fewer and fewer opportunities for human beings to enjoy a hands on real equal relationship with an animal species where there a rewards for both to enjoy. Farming enterprises are steadily becoming larger, more programmed and automated year on year. I hear sighs form those readers who believe all the propaganda that greyhounds are automated money making machines whose worth is only counted in dollar bills and the owners relationship with the dog is simply about money.

Sigh all you like, but you are an idiot. Greyhounds are bred to chase, they are bred to live in a pack, they perform because they are healthy and well looked after and they bloody love it.

They are not blood thirsty killers and neither are their owners. It is true they wear muzzles, but only because some early colonials were worried their sheep would be attacked and politicians ever since have not had the common sense to see that greyhounds are one of the most docile breeds of dogs alive. In my travels around Australia I have seen very few sheep in suburbia and even less greyhounds that were being denied a daily meal.

Greyhound owners and trainers would love to see many of their greyhounds moved into good homes in the community, however, between them, they should have the exclusive right to decide that a dog that has been observed and cared is suitable for transition into suburbia.

Some greyhounds, while being terrific chasers may have anti-social habits such as aggression towards other dogs, towards human beings, which is very rare, excessive barking or home demolition and in my opinion these dogs are not suitable for release into the community. No trainer makes this decision lightly, but neither should they be condemned for it. That greyhound lived a fulfilled life, probably more fulfilled than a great many Australian household pets.

The human discharge from this sport in the last couple of years has gone from a trickle to a flood. These people, largely middle aged, have lost their equivalent to the men’s shed or bingo night. Many live a lonelier existence with nothing but the TV or the pokie venue to replace it.

Thanks, but no thanks; you can keep your better culture.