When I adopted my retired racing greyhound, Dobby, he came with his racing muzzle. Muzzles are an essential accessory for greyhounds, and they’ve been raised to be comfortable wearing them. Although I was well-versed in the positives of muzzles when I adopted Dobby, I know that I would not have felt so pro-muzzle even a year or two ago.
For most people, muzzles seem unethical. A cage around the dog’s nose and mouth? How torturous and shameful! There have got to be other options!
I think these opinions tend to come from a lack of proper education on the benefits of muzzle wearing. The plastic basket muzzle Dobby wears allows him to pant and drink water. It also keeps him, other dogs, and people safe in situations where he might be inclined to nip. Although greyhounds–Dobby especially–are extremely gentle and well-behaved dogs, you never know what a little anxiety or excitement might provoke them to do.
To me, muzzles are no different than wearing shin guards while playing soccer or using laughing gas during a medical procedure. Play and sport can be dangerous even if they’re fun. A regular check-up or necessary medical procedure doesn’t mean it’s going to be comfortable or painless. When Dobby goes to his playgroup on Saturday mornings, all the dogs wear muzzles. It has prevented plenty of bites or altercations that might arise while the pack of greyhounds races around the baseball field or interacts with each other. Likewise, a muzzle can be handy if you’re performing a procedure on your dog that they don’t particularly like. I remember hearing about a dog in an animal shelter that was put down because it bit one of the employees who was giving it a shot. They claimed the dog was aggressive. I don’t doubt that a muzzle would have probably saved his life.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest stigmas surrounding muzzles is that only aggressive dogs wear them. I know the first day Dobby was home, I walked him with his muzzle. I’m pretty sure that it scared off plenty of my neighbors. When I brought him in for his first vet appointment, I had him wear the muzzle. The receptionist asked me if he was aggressive. I had to explain that it was merely a safety precaution.
Olympic athletes still wear protective gear, even though they are the best of the best. Parents still opt to sedate their young kids during various procedures because they know it will be easier than dealing with a wriggly kid who doesn’t totally understand what is going on. I hope that we can grow to see the muzzle as just another precautionary tool. Why wouldn’t you want to be proactive about preventing accidents from happening?
Although Dobby mostly only wears his muzzle at his weekly playgroup, I still have it hanging by the door for easy access. I feel no shame in making him wear it. In fact, I feel that it is just another way that I am a good pet parent. I want him to stay safe and healthy, and the muzzle does a great job of ensuring just that.
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