Photographers' Blog

Los Galgos Guapos (The Handsome Hounds)

By Erin Siegal

I’d never really known a galgo, or greyhound. To me, they were simply those weirdly skinny creatures in the NYC dog runs that looked like yawning alligators when panting, so rail-thin that they practically disappeared unless they turned sideways.

But now?

Well, let’s just say that I think Dreamboat’s name is pretty accurate.


“Dreamboat,” a.k.a. U.S.S. Dreamboat, enjoys a bath.

In Tijuana, Mexico, the Caliente racetrack is famous. In the city’s heyday, high-end thoroughbreds charged past glamorous crowds of onlookers; photos of the horses still adorn the walls in the casino’s basement administrative offices. Today, however, a different kind of animal bursts from the starting gates each day: American greyhounds.


Greyhounds race at Tijuana’s Caliente racetrack

Naim Lejud, the track manager, told me that Caliente’s kennels hold more than 700 galgos, or greyhounds. The majority of dogs race multiple times per week; races are held daily. Every single dog, Lejud says, has been imported from the United States. Most hail from Abilene, Kansas, home of the National Greyhound Association. Caliente is what’s known as a “last stop” track: the place where slow, aging, or otherwise unwanted dogs are brought for their final hurrahs.

In the United States, greyhound racing is controversial. Over the past five years the industry’s demise has been expedited as more and more states outlaw the practice. Today, dog tracks operate in just seven states. The Tijuana track is located a few miles south of California, where greyhound racing is banned. Despite its location, the Tijuana track is considered part of the American racing circuit.

Luxury dog care open for business

Affluent South Koreans have just about every fashion accessory imaginable from designer clothes to handbags and the latest trend in Asia’s fourth biggest economy is small dogs.

Just like their well-groomed owners in the ritzy suburbs of the capital Seoul, pets are now big business for groomers, healthcare businesses and even mood music, helping to create a whole new service industry.

“IRION” is a luxury pet care centre in the Gangnam district in Seoul that recently opened to cater to the needs of affluent urban dwellers who have embraced small dogs as their latest fashion accessory.

Last gift for dying dogs

SAPPORO, Japan – Retirement can be a death knell for guide dogs, creatures who spend their lives caring for others, but a home in Japan is giving these canines a new lease on life in their twilight years. The Sapporo Retirement Home for Dogs, in the northern island of Hokkaido, has sheltered more than 200 animals since it opened in 1978, giving them the best possible care until they are either adopted by sighted humans or die.

“This is the last gift we can give these dogs who worked for people all their life,” said the home’s director Keiko Tsuji as she caressed the coat of Rick, a dog who is now paralyzed due to old age and can only feed from a tube. “Most of these dogs only live for 2 or 3 years after their retirement, and I want them to live comfortably for the rest of their lives,” she added.

Japan’s guide dogs must retire at the age of 11 or 12, because that is when their abilities, and physical strength, start to fail, according to the home’s staff. These aged dogs are then taken away from their masters because, after years of guiding, they will continue to perform their duties, putting themselves and their owners at risk.

Presidential pets: Past and present

“Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” -Barack Obama

And with that introduction during his presidential victory speech last November Barack Obama changed the lives of his family forever by honoring a personal campaign promise to the most important constituents in his life; his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Both girls will now have memories of growing up in official Washington forever linked with the excitement of sharing the White House grounds with their brand new puppy.

They will discover the past rewards of an imaginary friend are hollow next to the joys generated by a loving heart of a real puppy. Sasha and Malia will learn how satisfying it is to be a pet’s hero and they will never tire from watching as their dog twists inside-out with enthusiasm, and smiles widely every time they return home from school.

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