In Ronda, Spain I visited the very famous, and oldest bullfighting arena, constructed in 1784. It was not bullfighting season, at the time, so I was able to admire the stunning setting and architecture, minus the violence. I hadn’t known there was a bullfighting season, but for those interested, that season runs from March to October. In the U.S. we have Ernest Hemingway, and his Death in the Afternoon, to thank or to blame for our familiarity with this controversial sport. As Mr. Hemingway saw it bullfighting is a highly ritualized, akin to religious, performance art, practiced by a culture fascinated with death. Who can argue with that? He also considered it analogous to the essence of life, and the writer’s search for meaning. Mr. Hemingway was a particularly masculine writer. Seems more the definition of male machismo. A good matador takes pleasure in the efficiency of the kill.
Ronda, Spain: Source: pixdaus.com
In Quito, Ecuador I did attend a bullfight. With a desire to experience the culture, and peer inside the anima of the people, I walked to the arena, bought a ticket and took my seat. I don’t know why they call it a fight. Fight implies both sides stand a chance of winning. When the picadors flung their lances into the neck muscles of the bull, and blood flowed, I left, a bundle of nerves, barely containing the tears.
One may argue, and I wouldn’t disagree, that the lives of our steers here in the U.S. are not to be held in high esteem. The stress these animals endure on feedlots is abysmal, as they are pumped with antibiotics and forced to eat food their systems aren’t meant to digest. And then we eat them. Bullfighting, feedlots, chickens in factory farms; the cruelty is breathtaking.
Animals are People Too: Source: piccsy.com
That took a dark turn. Damn. At least I didn’t mention Canada bashing the heads of baby seals for their pelts. Oops.
Let’s move on to dogs. That’s an automatic smile. If you don’t like dogs, what am I saying, who doesn’t like dogs? Not counting our spouses or significant others, and who counts them anyway, dogs are our best friends. That’s a cliche that deserves it rightful position. Our kids don’t offer us unconditional love. Though a Littlest Pet Shop figurine, with their hang dog emotional eyes, might buy us a hug. But a real live dog is always at the ready to offer support. They love us, and then they love us more.
Have you ever bought a ticket to a greyhound race? A skinny dog with long legs chases a lure around a track. People gamble on which one will win. During their racing years greyhounds spend much of their time confined in cages. When they outlive their usefulness, when they no longer win races they are euthanized. Just like that. A movement to ban racing, headed by Grey2K, has been gaining ground in the last decade. Success has been hard won. Nine states still allow the practice. Florida leads the pack with thirteen tracks. Ever notice how often Florida appears in the news? Not in a good way.
I’d rather be a greyhound than a steer or a chicken. The life of a greyhound may not be as dismal as that of a turkey in a Butterball farm, or as tortured as a bull in Spain, but greyhounds ask for little, and are denied even that. Thousands of racing greyhounds are killed each year upon “retirement.” These greyhounds don’t have access to AARP.
Sue Rowlands understands. A chance encounter at her local farmer’s market opened her eyes to the tranquil beauty of the animal. When her application was approved, Sue and her husband adopted Badger, and discovered the pleasure of the docile greyhound personality. Greyhounds are misunderstood as those bred to race are often trained to chase and kill rabbits. But the animal lacks aggression. They are sighthounds, built for speed, not for bloodlust.
Retired from a career in veterinary care Sue has made it her mission to find homes for retired racing greyhounds. A dedicated volunteer with Wine Country Greyhound Adoption, Sue has taken her turn in every position. Through this varied experience she discovered her strength lies in home visits, and her sense of who would be a good match for one of the dogs. Not all applications are approved.
When my niece arrives this summer for her annual visit she and I will take a gander at the greyhounds. As well, we will visit the shelter dogs at the Humane Society, and decide who would be the best fit for us. Neither of us can wait. Just a few more months.
Thanks for listening!