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The Weekly Blog

Dog Days

Every dog has its day. For Laika the mixed breed (mostly Siberian-husky) dog, rescued from the streets of Moscow, that meant ascending in a rocket to become the first animal to orbit the Earth on 3rd November, 1957.

he Soviet scientists responsible for the Sputnik 2 mission apparently thought that Laika’s hard upbringing would prepare her for the cold temperatures and hunger that she would experience whilst in space. I wonder what background the Police sniffer dogs, attending Kelso Races on Sunday, endured before taking up a career in the narcotics division of the Police force.

Had they progressed from pies and pasties? In which case any one of my own dogs has a chance of graduating in future years. Or had they been reared on the cold pavements of Glasgow, developing a hard-nosed approach to dealers and users on the street?

Either way, the dogs proved popular with the vast majority of racegoers – many of whom sought to give them a pat as they came through the entrance. Most, including some of those that were searched (but were probably carrying large quantities of tainted £50 notes as opposed to usable narcotics) were pleased to see that the local Police were taking a firm line in relation to antisocial behaviour. A handful of racegoers were apprehended on suspicion that they were carrying illegal substances. The result was a vibrant and fun crowd and a great day at the races.

It’s not the first time that I’ve seen sniffer dogs at work on a racecourse. On one occasion we had a ‘drug dog’ and an ‘explosive dog’ on the same day. According to a senior police officer, the two dogs were not allowed to meet because they didn’t get on with each other – suggesting that even in the canine world, the various police departments are prone to pulling rank.

Not that I’d ever want to mess with an explosive dog. It’s just plain dangerous. In 1941 the Russians, who evidently had a different approach to animal welfare than most British people do today, strapped bombs to starving dogs and taught them to look for food beneath enemy tanks. Unfortunately the dogs were taught using diesel powered vehicles and they were therefore more attracted to Russian tanks than the petrol-powered German ones. To say the plan back-fired is something of an understatement.

Police sniffer dogs weren’t the only hounds seeking the limelight at Kelso on Sunday. Not wishing to be outshone, the dogs belonging to one of our racecourse photographers made a bid for stardom by leaping out of their vehicle and galloping up the track in front of Racing UK’s cameras. When tackled by our Clerk of the Course Anthea Morshead, the photographer was good enough to point out that the last time Anthea’s dog (Jack) went missing, he disappeared for ten days!

Talking of Jack, before becoming the brains of the racecourse operation, he was known in his formative years as a bit of a Young Rascal – which also happens to be the name of this year’s Derby winner, staged at Epsom on Saturday.

The moral of this week’s blog is twofold: Please don’t bring drugs to the racecourse; you’re welcome to bring a dog but unless you’re planning to attach it to a rocket, or tie explosives to its back, please keep it on a lead.

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