Well. You can "know" something in principle without knowing the details for sure. That is true for what I knew about Magic's life before her rescue in July, 2008. However. It is one thing to know that back yard breeders in the California Central Valley and High Desert breed and keep sight hounds in miserable conditions, sell them for coyote and rabbit hunting to people who continue to keep them in miserable conditions, and knowing that the shy, somewhat confused, yet determined creature that you have just welcomed into your home, who at this very minute is sound asleep on the love seat in the living room--began life and lived in just those miserable conditions.
Magic lived for at least three years--and was probably born--in a cage in a backyard in the High Desert of California. No protection from the heat. No protection from the cold. No veterinarian care. Bred, for certain once, but possibly repeatedly from her first season. Her only human interaction was with a rough man who cared nothing for her or her well being.
Enter Nancy. Nancy is a Rescuer. Over the years, she has purposely maintained cordial relationships with people like Magic's original owner. Nancy's purpose is to be available when one of these backyard breeders decides that he wants to reduce his pack. Because Nancy refrains from "sharing" her true feelings about his little enterprise, he calls her to take the dog or dogs he wants to get rid of instead of shooting them or turning them loose to fend for themselves in the desert.
Nancy is one of a number of volunteers associated with Greyhound Adoption Center in San Diego County. Not every Greyhound Rescue could or would have accepted a dog like Magic. Most rescued Greyhounds are ex-racers. And as many challenges as ex-racers present, there are some aspects of their early life that make it possible for smaller rescues to work with them. Racing Greyhounds are socialized and acclimated to human touch from puppy-hood. They are accustomed to living in a kennel and being turned out at regular times to relieve themselves. These factors provide sufficient predictability that a small rescue can use foster homes to care for dogs before placement.
But predictability is not a common characteristic among sight hounds rescued from backyard breeders. First, many of these dogs are mixed breeds--Magic is probably a Scottish Deerhound/Greyhound cross--which introduces more variation in size and temperament. Then, there is rarely positive socialization with humans. Many of these dogs have learned to avoid human contact whenever possible. Their cages represent painful confinement, not a place of safety and retreat. And their health problems can be multiple and exotic. These are the dogs who are most likely to be hosts to really awful parasites. So it is not surprising that few Greyhound Rescues can accept the challenges they bring.
Fortunately for Magic, Nancy was able to bring her to Greyhound Adoption Center, which has commodious kennel facilities, fostering home options--and a truly outstanding sight hound veterinarian on call, who sees and treats all of the dogs. Before Magic came to live with us, she had been the beneficiary of Greyhound Adoption Center's full menu of rehabilitation services for more than a year. I am always struck by how much care, how many resources, how much patience is needed to even begin to correct the results of negligence--and, indeed, cruelty--that is inflicted on domestic pets.
Magic's chance for a happy, normal dog's life began the day Nancy removed Magic, two of her puppies, and the puppies' father from the Dog Hell they inhabited and brought them to the Greyhound Adoption Center kennel in Dehesa.
It was just the beginning. More of that later. But today, from Magic--and from John and me, and Bingley, too, a big Thank You to Nancy. Without your courage and intervention.... I don't want to think about it.