The greyhound is one of the oldest breeds of dogs, but greyhound racing is a relatively new sport. It was invented in the United States in the early 1900s. Before Owen Patrick Smith invented the artificial lure (basically a bit of fur scented with meat on a wire pulley system that runs around an elliptical track) rich or royal people enjoyed the sport of hunting with dogs. The greyhound was a favorite of nobility for his speed and excellent eyesight. (Greyhounds belong to the family of dogs known as sighthounds) Once the artificial lure came in to use it was possible to have a dog race that is as thrilling a horse race, each dog wearing a brightly colored number and running as fast as they could after the lure.

There has been a good deal of publicity about the cruelty of the sport of greyhound racing, it’s important to understand, however the nature of the cruelty. Many people suppose that it is the running itself and the fact that the dogs are not fed for up to 12 hours before the race that makes it cruel. In fact, the race is probably one of the most fulfilling times in the life of the greyhound. These are dogs that love to run. Many people who own ex-racing greyhounds as family pets participate in sports such as lure coursing (like a greyhound race, but in a straight line) and even benefit races designed for older dogs and hobbyists with low-stakes “fun” bets.

The money from such benefits goes to address the real cruelty of greyhound racing, the fact that 1000s of the beautiful dogs are killed every year in the prime of their lives (racers hardly ever run once they are older than five, but the dogs often live to be 10 or 11 years old) This happens because once the dog is done running it is hard (and at time little effort is made) to find a home to take the dog in.

There are many adoption agencies around the world that try to address this issue. If you are considering a dog consider and ex-racing greyhound. Though they are fast, they are also gentle animals with a sweet disposition who would love to be a part of your home when they are done running.

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