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Forced to Race?

by Dennis McKeon

I came across an interesting article today. The thrust of it is something breeders of sporting and working dogs have known for a long time.
“New research from Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA.”

But of course, there is a heritable and collective consciousness within species and breeds of animals. Not all things they do are learned. Not all behaviors they exhibit are simply to please us, or in spite of us. Some things are just etched upon their DNA, and they couldn’t care less what we think of it.

That’s why Doberman Pinscher dogs warn and protect. It’s why Huskies mush. It’s why Shepherding dogs herd. It’s why Labradors retrieve. And it’s why Greyhounds race.

It’s also why greyhound breeders, trainers, and others who are truly knowledgeable of the breed, take extreme exception to the oft-repeated fable and fallacy, that by some sinister spell of dark magic, greyhounds are “forced to run” by their breeders and handlers.

Like most of the popular mythology of the Racing Greyhound, nothing could be further from the truth. A greyhound who doesn’t revel in the gifts of his own speed and grace, a greyhound who isn’t inclined to compete with his littermates and pack mates, or a greyhound who does not choose to chase after game or lures—they are the anomalies.

For a breed of considerable antiquity, such as the greyhound, these things are self evident, to anyone who has even the slightest familiarity or experience with the modern, racing Greyhound.

I have no idea why it has taken science so long to catch up with what King Canute and his subjects knew in the 11th century (see: The Forest Laws by Martin Roper), and what rural, agrarian, wide-open-spaces America has known since pioneer times. Greyhounds are running, hunting dogs, who are furiously competitive when doing so, and who are completed — made whole–by the very act of partaking in the chase.

Far from being “forced to run” by humans, a greyhound’s every nerve, fiber, sinew and cell demands that he run. He is compelled to do so, by voices so ancient and powerful that we, in our suburban idyll, cannot even imagine their resonance.

As a former professional greyhound trainer, I would love to be able to sit here and tell you all that each and every greyhound who was placed in my hands, owed all of his/her success to my consummate skills and intuition, as someone who trained them, impeccably, to run and compete. But that would be yet another myth to add to the litany of greyhound mythology already out there for public disinformation.

The truth is that the trainer’s job is to give the greyhound ample opportunity, repetitions and time to hone the skills he already possesses, and to nurture the drives and desires the greyhound is born with. We merely allow them to express themselves. We don’t teach them to race and to compete. They already know how to do that. We simply evaluate where they are, physically, mentally and competitively at any given time, and we try to maximize each greyhound’s competitive potential and physical conditioning.

A greyhound who does not wish to race, simply doesn’t race. They either refuse to break from the starting box, or they quit the chase shortly after the race begins. I have never known anyone who could “force a greyhound to run”. Neither has anyone else.

It might surprise you to learn that some great greyhounds, even breed icons like Rinaker and Dutch Bahama, declined to race at one point or another in their careers. And no one could force them to do it. They decided for themselves, if and when they would or wouldn’t. Greyhounds are like that, as many of you may know.

So, contrary to insidious, popular mythology, greyhounds are not forced to run or to race. It is simply impossible for a handler to do that. Period. The greyhounds we see racing on tracks do so because they love to, and as the researchers from Emory University have surmised:
“… experiences are somehow transferred from the brain into the genome, allowing them to be passed on to later generations.”

Inasmuch as that is certainly the case, by whatever mechanism, and has been for hundreds of generations of sporting Greyhounds, it behooves us to ask ourselves what the real “cruelty” is.

Breeding and enabling them to race? Or forcing them not to?

Copyright, 2015

Nose Print

Nose Print

College Mascot


The greyhound is a popular school mascot, representing colleges and universities including Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts; Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico; the University of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana; Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland; Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; and Yankton College in Yankton, South Dakota, to name just a few.

Pictured: Greyhound statues on campus at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

College mascot

Janie Wins Her Maiden

Janie went box to wire for the win on March 10, 2016!

You can watch her video here: Janie’s win.

The Paddy Whacker Trio

The featured litter on our website is a trio of brindle trouble! The Paddy Whacker x Blazin Angelfire pups are in Florida where two of them have finished their schooling and started running in official races…. almost.

Jamie (Ellis Boyd) runs his maiden at Orange Park tonight!

His sister Janie (Steam) has a few races under her belt. Their brother Jack (Randall Stevens) is schooling, but should run his maiden soon.

James’ Update

James (Blu Too James) is from the Oswald Cobblepot x LK’s Energizing litter we’re following on our website.

Last week we posted an update on his sister Lillian (Blu Too Lillian) who became a service dog. Like her, James broke his leg while romping around playing on the farm so he was adopted and lives with his new family.

Here’s an update from him:

Hello. I’m Jimmy. But I have lots of names now. Sometimes it’s James, Jimbo, Cornbread, Weirdo, WhatAreYouDoing, StopThat, or BLUTOOJAMES!!! (dat means iahz in twubbles. But I am always INNOCENTS, honest!)

I have been enjoying my retirements. I DO miss my Momma Katherine, and Momma ‘Liyas, and Boy Colten and Boy Cajun, but I REALLY like my new brother and sisters and mommies. My mommies send pictures and updates to Momma Katherine and Momma ‘Liyas all the time, so it’s ALMOST like I’ve never left. Almost.

James (Blu Too James)The cat, not so much. She’s so MEAN! She eats maih feets when I go by the bed, and then this one time for NO reason, she tried to eat maih face! Why does she DO these things to meez?

My new sister Hattie is my one twue wuvs. She is the Butterbeans to my Cornbread. I mean, she tries to pretend she doesn’t really love me, but she does, in secrets. Mommies have pictures to prove it. Sometimes I wait until she is asleep and snuggle with her. The moms say I’m kind of a stalker, but it’s all for wuvs!

My two other sisters are MoonBeam and Keiva. They really are sisters. They love to play with me, but MoonBeam is a sore loser. She gets SO MAD if I’m in front of her when we’re zooming! She tries to eat my face through the muzzle when that happens. Why everbody gotta eat my face? Well, Keiva doesn’t try to eat my face, but she WILL run me over if I’m in her way.

And then there is my brother Tista. He is the Old Man. He taught me to bark. Lots! Bark at eberfangs. Together we have totally saved the house with the power of our barking! From Skittles the meanie dog behind the fence, to people walking on our street, sketchy plastic bags – we are ON DUTY! I have been doing SUCH a good job lately, Tista has been leaving most of the barking up to me. That must mean I am getting to be a Big Boy if I get to do the barking. I want to be a Big Boy. Big Boy like Tista. The moms say Tista isn’t a role model, but I think he is super cools and want to be just like hims.

The moms say they are willing to share updates at any times. Until then, there are zoomies to be had and barkings to be done (and maybe a kiss for Hattie)!

* Katherine, ‘Liyas, Colten and Cajun are from Blu Too *

Lilly’s a Service Dog

Lilly (Blu Too Lillian) completed her service dog training with Greyt Hearts Service Dogs and is now living with her mom Lynn. Her new job is to warn Lynn of impending migraines. Good girl!

See our Oswald Cobblepot x LK’s Energizing “Follow That Pup” page for more on the litter.