Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Language of the Dog Racing Industry

"Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.

Watch your habits, for they become character.

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

-- Anonymous.
I have always believed that the fight over greyhound racing ultimately boils down to a very simple disagreement over how we perceive dogs. Most of us see dogs as living beings, companions and members of the family. On the other hand, the greyhound racing industry views dogs as commodities, or numbers to gamble on.

That is why greyhound breeders use terms like "producer" to describe breeding dogs. It is also why they refer to greyhounds in terms that relate solely to their financial value. For an example, look at this blog post published today by the Australian website The Dogs. In this post, The Dogs reports on a greyhound named Blue Lorian, who is being retired due to a shoulder injury. His owner is obviously sad about this turn of events, because Blue Lorian was a big money maker:
"Brendan and I thought he could have gone on for another 12 months, but at three-and-a-half years of age it’s the right thing to do ... We want him on all fours before we start breeding with him."
The blog post then reports that Blue Lorian has a nickname:
“The gift that keeps on giving”
Blue Lorian was given this nickname because he was a Christmas present, and also because he won $375,000 in prize money during his career. According to his owner:
“He got my head above water ... we tried to do the right thing with the kids education and whatever else, but we were always paying by credit card and then paying interest on the credit card. Now we’ve paid all the bills and whenever we put something on the credit card we pay it off straight away."
This attitude is typical in the greyhound racing industry. To many greyhound breeders and racetrack owners, greyhounds aren't even dogs at all.

That might sound like an exaggeration, but it's not. Don't take my word for it. Instead, take the word of former dog track owner Kelly Carney, who gave us her perspective on greyhounds during a 2008 debate over greyhound racing:
"Excuse me, but you're not talking about dogs. You're talking about greyhound racing pets right now. You're not talking about house pets."
At the beginning of this post, I quoted an anonymous author. I think this author got it exactly right. We have to watch our words, because they both reflect our thoughts and become our actions.

1 comment:

  1. In warfare, it is common practice to dehumanize your enemy, calling them "Japs" or "Huns" or "Gooks", or any other derogatory term, because that lessens their humanity and allows you to treat them in ways you would not treat "people" in your own country or your allies.

    By using terms like "producer" and "units", also common in the industry, you can treat these dogs as something like widgets, not living animals worthy of compassion and humane treatment.