Update: This was written and posted in 2011. I’m reposting because Moose passed away on June 3, 2013. Moose was rescued from a research lab. Animal testing stinks. It’s the cause of much suffering. Learn more here. Never buy products tested on animals and always choose adoption over buying an animal. Rest in peace, dear Moose.
When I first met Moose, a gentle Greyhound, he slowly walked up to sniff me. Then he slowly turned and walked away. I guess you could say he just wasn’t into me. It was obvious he wasn’t your typical dog. He didn’t bark or run up to the door when I arrived. He hesitated. He moved slowly. Moose didn’t act like a regular dog.
That’s because he’s not. He lived in a research lab at Iowa State University for four-and-a-half years as a test subject in the racing chemistry lab — receiving regular injections of drugs. Just like in human sports, performance enhancing drugs are sometimes used in the greyhound racing industry. And just like in human sports, they are illegal. Research labs like the one at Iowa State pump Greyhounds with these drugs to find the threshold for testing “positive” for the illegal drugs.
People breed Greyhounds to race. It’s likely, although the specifics are unknown, Moose was not a good race dog, so his people sentenced him to the research lab where he lived until his “uncooperative” behavior was his ticket out of jail. Proof that being a rebel isn’t always a bad thing. Fortunately the research facility moved Moose to a local animal shelter rather than euthanize him. When I contacted the shelter about adopting a greyhound, the clerk who responded said it is rare that they have greyhounds for adoption. Fran Horvath* of Skokie, Illinois adopted him after being alerted that a Greyhound was at the Iowa shelter.
We often hear about the inhumane treatment of race dogs. We don’t typically hear about other greyhounds related to the same industry but used for experiments. Moose lived in a research lab and mostly confined to a cage. Although the lab personnel said they walk the dogs daily, this did not seem true. The pads on his paws were as smooth as a day-old puppy when Fran adopted him. “He could pee in a cup on command and they (researchers) were proud of that”, says Fran.
She knows because she called the school to gather information on him after the adoption. “Moose didn’t have any affect. When I looked in his eyes, they were blank,” says Fran. “He was broke. Unfamiliar with grass, bugs, flies, cars, airplanes, doors and stairs, Moose was clueless about living in a home. Everything was new to him and very scary,” according to Fran.
Moose adapted slowly. In the beginning, he lived in his crate in Fran’s bedroom. Regardless that he could come and go as he pleased, he only left to eat and go outside to do his business. Early on there were many times he didn’t eat all. After a year, he began to trust Fran and her kids. It took Moose a bit longer to accept Fran’s husband. It’s been 6.5 years since the adoption and Fran has seen many improvements. She says,
“Moose spends time with the family now as opposed to hiding in his kennel day and night. If we are in the living room, he follows. When I go to bed at night, he follows. He asks for food and enjoys treats. He was completely unmotivated by food for years. What dog turns his nose up at food?
He plays with toys and collects hats that he steals from my son, Mike. He didn’t know what to do with a toy for the longest time. One day he started carrying one of Mike’s hats in his mouth and took it outside. Now Moose throws them up in the air and catches them. He pounces on them. As soon as any one of us comes home, he goes to his toy basket and very specifically picks one to take outside. Every time, no exception.
It took several years to get him to walk to the end of the block. At first we walked out the front door and came right back. Eventually he would walk down the sidewalk, which is maybe 20 feet. Slowly, he walked further and further. This was over several years. Very slow going. Now he walks to the end of the block and back. He actually asks to go for a walk and won’t stop nagging until you take him. He cautiously enjoys it.
Now he takes an interest in seeing who is at the door. For the first few years if someone came over he would hide in his kennel. He loves to look out the window and see what’s happening outside,” says Fran.
Love Makes all the Difference
Moose is one of the lucky ones. Here’s how to help other greyhounds:
- Learn more about the perils of the greyhound racing industry at Grey2K USA or The Humane Society of the United States.
- Do not support dog racing. Say no when invited to the tracks by friends, family or co-workers and let them know why. (Avoid horse races also.)
- Adopt your next dog from a shelter or rescue group. To adopt a “retired” greyhound, check out The Greyhound Project to find a group near you.
- Raise awareness and share Moose’s story with everyone you know. Most people don’t know this side of dog racing. Forwarding this story to just one person will help. They may send it to another and so on. That is how the power of one works.
- For general information on animals used for experimentation, click here.
*Fran Horvath is a friend and former yoga student of mine. She owned and operated Ethical Planet in Evanston for several years. Her new venture is Greenout Cleanout, offering sustainable estate cleanout services. Find her out online at greenoutcleanout.com. If you have specific questions about greyhounds, Fran offered to share her knowledge. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.