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  • Writer's pictureMatt Johnston

Mark Twain gets it the wrong way around.

"The More I learn about people, the more I like my dog."

It is one of Mark Twain’s most famous quotes, but to my train of thought I am increasingly of the view that he got it the wrong way around. Because for me, the more I learn about my dog, the more I dislike people.

Rocky, is an ex racing greyhound from Ireland, who came to us about six weeks ago now, and it is heartening to see the improvements. In truth I am not a fan of the name, but apart from six months of excellent work by the staff at the Kenilworth Dog's Trust #DogTrust, it was probably the only thing humans had given him other than years of exploitation (and a number circular scars on his side, which are sadly the same size as cigarettes).

After the first 48 hours, probably his first ever in a house, we were able to tempt him out of the cage, and after three weeks he would reluctantly come out the front door. There is clearly a great deal to do. My wife or I walk him at 5am, because he is simply terrified of what lies beyond our front door and at this time everything is pretty quiet.

This morning’s new terror – sheep. A dog who terrified of sheep. It would be funny were it not so terribly sad. There is a beautiful dog in there, though we will just have to wait and see whether the following care we can give him will be sufficient to undo his experience of humanity in the first 3 years.

The irony is that Rocky was in many ways one of the lucky ones. He was at least raced professionally (he has the tattoos in his ears - and has not had his ears cut off by the previous owner to disguise their complicity when he was dumped or disposed of), and has escaped the fate of the numerous greyhounds and lurchers used for hare coursing.

I refrain from being too critical of greyhound racing, and have in the past been to a meeting, and did enjoy myself at the time. But I am now living with a refugee from an entertainment industry, and have to align the concept of a warm and loving animal with the human capacity to turn anything that it desires into a disposable commodity.

Humans, humanity, human values - looking at Rocky, these vaulted concepts seem overrated.

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