What's Beyond the Finish Line? Countdown for Macau’s Racing Greyhounds
Macau’s greyhounds face an uncertain future as the city’s only legal dog-racing course shuts down.
Words and photos by Chan Long Hei (陳朗熹)
Translation by Ya-mi Hsieh
The Macau Canidrome’s 600 greyhounds have spent a lifetime chasing electrified rabbits for the pleasure of humans. As the only legal dog-racing stadium in Asia closes for good this year, what waits for these dogs beyond the finish line is not a life of rest and retirement, but an unpredictable future.
The Yat Yuen Canidrome Company opened in 1931 and was witness to one of the grandest eras in Macau’s gambling industry. But over the years, the number of gamblers and revenue at the Canidrome declined, giving rise to new casinos and a raised awareness about animal protection.
With its dog-racing franchise contract expiring, the last race at the Canidrome finished on June 30, 2018, and the stadium announced it would be closing its doors for good on July 21, 2018.
Over the past 80 years, every Canidrome event has been held in the evening. Before the races got underway, dog handlers would escort six to eight greyhounds from the kennel to a dirt patch next to the track, where gamblers could observe the dogs from a live screen, and decide which dog to place their bets on.
The greyhounds would wear brightly coloured uniforms, and be given names like "Bounty Hunter," "Prosperous Year," or "Hercules" with the hopes that they would bring good luck to gamblers.
But the noisy Canidrome bleachers of yesteryear have since become silent. Today, only a dozen or so elderly gamblers watch the greyhounds cross the finish line with eerie calmness, as if they had nothing to do with the result.
Even though the greyhounds toiled away half a lifetime for this racetrack, once they’re injured, the dogs are forced to retire or are put down.
A dog owner could potentially own hundreds of dogs at the same time, while the dogs live only to fight another night on the tracks for their masters. For most of these greyhounds, their only reason for living is to chase an electrified rabbit across the finish line.