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Lure Coursing and the Retired Racing Greyhound
by Judy Kody Paulsen, Founder, GCNM

(Excerpt from Winter 1998 issue of GCNM News)

Lure coursing is a competition designed to test the speed and agility of greyhounds and other "sight hound" breeds as they chase a plastic bag attached to a pulley system on the ground. The "course" is comprised of numerous sharp turns, and is usually laid out in a large open field. High-speed tumbles and entanglements with other dogs, or even the cable to which the lure is attached, are not infrequent. This competition can be wonderful exercise for a fit greyhound; however, it can also be disastrous, especially for a retired racing greyhound.


Many retired racers had injuries, which were responsible for their retirement. Some had injuries that went undetected by trainers, as the only symptom noted in the greyhound was a slowing in their performance, rather than a visible limp or injury. Unfortunately, getting an accurate history on each dog's injury record is practically impossible due to the number of trainers they may have been with during their racing career.

Retired racing greyhounds need exercise, but great care should be taken to not expose them to rigorous workouts that can reinflame old injuries. Lure coursing requires properly conditioned, injury-free animals. Greyhounds that were bred for show or pet purposes (as opposed to those bred for pari-mutuel racing) are often sounder as they have not been exposed to the strenuous, demanding schedules of training and racing at tracks. Frequent injuries are common at greyhound racetracks, and often the dogs are rehabilitated and raced again, until the next injury occurs. These injuries, coupled with the shock of repeated jumps into and out of upper level crates and transport trucks, can produce a dog that is hypersensitive to further insult to muscles or bones that have already been stressed to the limit.

If you have a desire to enter a dog in lure coursing events, it would be best to obtain a dog that has not been used for racing. Severe and fatal injuries can occur, even in the most conditioned, healthy dogs competing in lure coursing. Encouraging a greyhound to chase a lure is nothing more than inciting primordial instincts. Injuries occur even in the most protected environment, and most adopters probably are familiar with the feeling of intense sympathy for a wounded pet. A fenced yard and/or routine outings on a leash are beneficial and safer for your greyhound companion.

If you are lucky enough to obtain a young greyhound that has a brief, well-documented history of his performance and injuries, you may want to try the lure-coursing route. But be forewarned that bloodied paws, and broken legs and necks are not uncommon even in the most conditioned of these graceful athletes. Carrying an injured or, worse yet, dead dog off the course is an experience you won't soon forget. Your retired racer has already paid his dues on the racetrack.


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