Flo used to be starved, abused, locked up, injured. She almost died, and was terrified of everyone.
Everything changed when she was rescued.
Now she lives in Cork with people who love her and take care of her.
She has recovered, physically and psychologically, gaining weight as well as trust and confidence.
She is incredibly gentle. She is incredibly lucky.
Flo is an Irish greyhound. The kind of dog we don’t regard as dogs.
Irish greyhounds, thanks to RTÉ, Barry’s Tea and an insurance company, are horrifyingly in our consciousness.
Millions of taxpayers’ euro spent on an industry built on monstrous cruelty, that sees 6,000 ‘unprofitable’ dogs killed each year.
The UK is full not just of rescue greyhounds from Ireland, but of rescue dogs of all kinds from here.
Yet we think of ourselves as a nation of dog lovers, maybe not quite in the same league as the English who talk to their dogs more than to each other (which in the light of much human behaviour makes perfect sense), but dog lovers nevertheless.
Actually, we are not.
As individuals, yes, some of us treat our dogs properly, but culturally we have a long way to go, with our puppy farms and our greyhound torture, our abused and neglected and abandoned dogs, our outmoded ideas that dogs are commodities or inconveniences, depending on what we can wring from them.
That they are things to be left alone all day, tied up or locked in. That they are things, not beings.
The disconnect in our perception between greyhounds and other dogs — the kind of dogs we have in our homes — reflects the wider disconnect between how we see ‘pet’ animals and ‘food’ animals.
Like horses and cows. We shove a saddle on one, shove the other under the grill.
Bit of a quadruped herbivore lottery, governed by our random speciesism — imagine the horror of a child being served up chunks of pony in a bun, even as they cheerfully chow down on cow.
What’s the difference between a dog and a pig, other than IQ points in the pig’s favour?
Hundreds of thousands of millions of animals — clever, sentient, sensitive animals that are not dogs or horses — are killed daily, monthly, yearly, so that we can momentarily tickle our tastebuds.
We all know this, but prefer not to think about it; but when there is a national wake-up call about the horrors endured by greyhounds, it’s hard not to think about all the other suffering four-leggeds killed by us for us in such staggering quantities.
About 35,000 Irish cows are killed per week, and around 300,000 Irish pigs are killed per month.
In 2017, 2.91 million Irish sheep were killed. All for our tastebuds.
Yet saving one species while eating another is the ultimate in cognitive dissonance; the only difference is in our perception.
Cats, dogs, cows, pigs — none of them deserve our cruelty.
Be humane. Go vegan.