Were you there? We were! The Sighthound Underground was very happy to have a booth at the Greyhounds Rock conference to support dogs with cancer this past weekend, and I personally was honored to be asked to speak.
My presentation was about SHUG and how the Sighthound worlds intersect. Yes, I did have a heckler in the audience--but at least she was cute and threw kisses instead of tomatoes. And no, I'm not Italian but I do apparently talk with my hands. And did I mention the spinning dogs?
If you've been following us on Facebook then you probably weren't too surprised that we walked the line between educational and entertaining. On a serious note, though, one of the topics I really wanted to address in my presentation--especially to a Greyhound-centric audience--was the concern that other Sighthounds, especially Galgos, might take away homes from retired racing Greyhounds.
To those critics, I wanted to point out two things. First off, it still isn't easy to adopt a Galgo. Even with the work that SHUG has done to reduce the adoption fee, at $750 adopting a Galgo is still expensive. Unless you live in New York City or the D.C. Metro area, it's going to involve some travel or even more expense on your part to get your dog home. You're only going to do this if it's what's in your heart. And I want people to be able to follow their hearts. When I adopted my first Galgo, someone told me I could have adopted FIVE dogs for what I spent on her. But I didn't want five dogs. I certainly didn't need five dogs! I just needed her.
The other thing I wanted to point out is what has become a very obvious trend. When I first became aware of retired racing Greyhounds 10 years ago, people batted around the number 18,000 when they talked about how many dogs were retired from the racing community every year. Then they talked about 15,000. Then 10,000. Now they talk about 8,000. The latest projections are somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000. There are no concrete numbers, but what we do know for sure is that there were 49 tracks ten years ago. Now there are 22. Do you see the trend?
While there are still many, many Greyhounds who need homes every year, the network created to move them from farms and tracks into foster and forever homes works. It does, in fact, kick ass. The problems facing retired racing Greyhounds aren't solved—but there are really smart, really organized people on it. They have a system and a network.
Galgos don't have a network. There may be 8,000 Greyhounds every year that need homes . . . there are 50,000 Galgos every year that need homes.
The standard Greyhound hauler holds 32 dogs. The average plane holds four Galgos. This is a very real bottleneck and it isn't going away. What will happen in 10 years? Will there be 4,000 Greyhounds to rehome each year? 2,000? 500? What will happen to this awesome network that the Greyhound rescue community has built? What will happen to the volunteers? Greyhound rescue is a way of life. Will you all just retire and stay home and watch TV on the weekends?
If there are no haulers full of Greyhounds to meet—can I interest you in a plane full of Galgos? A truck full of Lurchers? A trailer full of Borzoi?
I can promise, no matter what the future holds for the racing industry, there will still be Sighthounds that need your help. And we'll still be here, covered in dog hair and tangled in leashes. We wouldn't have it any other way.
Michael Owens, Director The Sighthound Underground