Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Blue Dog.

What’s a good operatic heroine's name for a dog?  An elegant, anorexic, blue bitch? It wasn’t till some time after that I realised that the protagonist 'Lulu' is brutally murdered by Jack the Ripper. Oh, poor Loopy Lu.

I was horrified the day my boyfriend suggested that when we get a dog we should buy a greyhound. He said to me, "get online, do a little research into the characteristics of the breed and their plight at the hands of the racing industry and I bet by the time I get home from work this afternoon you'll want one". He was right.

It was staggering, all that I learnt about the dogs. Up to 20, 000 dogs are destroyed every year in Australia, they are either fast or dead. They are very cruelly disposed of so as to incur as little cost as possible, a euthanasia shot is much more expensive than hitting them on the head with a hammer and burning them piled up in a heap. Asia is famous for it's trade in illegal dog meat for human consumption. It is believed adrenaline tenderises the meat and increases virility so these dogs are submitted to the most horrific deaths. If you can cope with it, check out this website lobbying for greyhound justice AACT. The 7.30 Report has recently shared some information, as have PETA, and the Sydney Morning Herald

On a brighter side, I learnt that these dogs are surprisingly loving and affectionate. They are lazy and need little exercise. As they have been bred to be athletes they are incredibly healthy dogs and do not have the hereditary ailments many other breeds have. They don't slobber, they rarely bark, because of the different composition of their fur, they don't smell, they are very very gentle and are great with children and other pets, they need very little indoor space, they really are the all time wunder hund.

Friends of the Hound rescue group has a website with photos of the dogs available for adoption. As soon as I saw the photo of 'Ruby', I was in love. We went to visit her at her foster home and she came straight to me, she was beautiful. On the way home we renamed her Lulu, the aforementioned heroine from the Alban Berg opera of the same name.

Life with Lulu was marvellous. There were many things that were very new to her, the first being stairs. With treats and much encouragement she eventually learned to sit and walk up stairs. Her paws also toughened up enough to walk of bitumen. My dad suggested buying her some shoes as the first time I took her walking on the footpath her paws bled. He explained how his kelpies on the sheep station would need little leather boots to protect their feet from hours of running on hot sand. So I bought Lulu a pair of pink ugg boots.

I was curious to find out about her dark past. So I rang Queensland racing and quoted the tattoos on her ears. The voice on the end of the phone asked, "a blue bitch?"I was a little shocked, but yes she is a female dog and the grey colour of a greyhound is called blue. She had an interesting history. She had four 'starts' (races) and four wins, she was a sprinter and ran the 440m course. She raced at Tweed Heads on the Gold Coast and her racing name was Zulu Flight and her kennel name was Judy. They have different names so they don't respond when hearing the race commentary calling their names. I couldn't understand why she only ran four races if she always won. It transpires that the dogs are often injured during races and due to the vet fees are not going to make much money for their owners, so on the rubbish pile. 

I was fortunate enough to have spoken to someone who had spoken to someone who was present the day she was anonymously surrendered to the RSPCA. It was one year after the date of her last race so it is not know where she was or how she got into such a bad way. The RSPCA are unfortunately limited by a very shy budget and Lulu was just too expensive and was being led down to the euthanasia  room. Fortunately someone from Friends of the Hound saw this happening and took her from this fate.

She was so ill, she was peeing blood from a unitary tract infection, she had deformed girls bits from over use of testosterone during her brief racing career and she was so stressed that she had hardly any fur on her. Friends of the Hound invested enough money in her to restore her to health.

Lulu has been getting better and happier and more loving and confident over the six years that I have had her. I see a change in her every six months I've known her. She provides me with so much comfort, companionship and warmth. She really is the delight of my life.

For Greyhound adoptions in Perth go to Greyhound Angels. On the East Coast go to Friends of the Hound.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post Kate! So interesting to hear about Lulu's history.