The most important socio-economic trend in 19th Century Europe--and particularly in Great Britain--was the gradual erosion of the power of the aristocracy because of applied science and technology--The Industrial Revolution.
It should not come as a surprise that the fortunes of the canine companions of the aristocracy took a parallel hit from the same source--technology. In 1912, Owen Patrick Smith invented the mechanical rabbit. His motives were pure. He wanted to stop the killing of jack rabbits. Repeat after me: The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions.
By the end of the 1920s, Dog Racing--Greyhound Racing (Why bother with anything but the fastest?)--had shattered the fortunes of the canine companions of the aristocracy: Greyhounds. Bred on a massive scale, confined for racing life (five years max) in small cage-like kennels, and killed--frequently in the cruelest ways--the lives of all but a small number of Show and Amateur Coursing Greyhounds, descended into Canine Hell.
And there they stayed until Greyhound Rescue groups began to emerge in the 1980s, raising the awareness of the American public to the plight of thousands of beautiful, graceful, and trusting dogs.
Presently, Greyhound Racing is legal in 14 states and is being conducted in 11 of those states. Massachusetts is the most recent state to outlaw Greyhound Racing. It will become illegal there in January 2010.
As a lover of Greyhounds, I am eager for Greyhound Racing to become illegal in all 50 states. But I am not sanguine about the impact the process of winding down racing has on dogs now living in track kennels that are soon to be closed and the puppies that are still being bred.
Here in San Diego County, the closest Greyhound Track is Caliente in Tijuana, about forty miles from where I am typing. Although located in Mexico, Caliente is a track for American bred dogs. In every way, Caliente is the end of the line for hundreds, if not thousands of Greyhounds. A long fall from the palaces that were once home to their ancestors.
I love to talk about Greyhounds. I do not like to talk about What Happened To Greyhounds. But this is the basic story of most of the Greyhounds I know. Two of the Dogs of My Life: The Wonderful Zephyr and Beautiful Portia were rescued from Caliente. Bingley never made it to Caliente because he was sold into an even lower ring of Canine Hell. I have met other Greyhounds who have survived other Canine Hells made possible by the over-supply of intact Greyhounds needed to maintain the dog racing industry.
When I next discuss Greyhounds, I will talk about the dogs. But before I do that, I had to let you know Where They Came From.