Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Little Greyhound History

As Saint Patrick's Day approaches, I was thinking about the link between greyhounds and the Fair Isles and thought we'd share a little history.  This may not be new information for people who share their lives with greyhounds, but for others, it might be some fun information.  It might also explain a bit about our girls.

Long ago, greyhounds, or at least their predescessors, were worshipped in ancient Egypt.  The only thing celebrated in an Egyptian family's life more than the birth of a litter of greyhound puppies was the birth of a son.  The dogs were worshipped there and their hunting skills were very valuable. 

In the Middle Ages, greyhounds had finally arrived in Europe.  At one point, they became almost extinct because of the harsh conditions during the plague, but were saved by priests in Ireland who took the dogs into a monastary and cared for them, as well as breeding them for the nobility.  The greyhound is the only breed of dog specifically mentioned in the Bible.  I don't know if that had something to do with why they were deemed worthy of saving or not, but I can say that I'm glad they decided to do so. 

Soon, greyhounds became the companions of kings and nobility.  Commoners caught with the dogs could be killed for breaking the law at one point, or sometimes their dogs were killed or maimed.  If a commoner killed a greyhound, the punishment also was death.  At one point, greyhounds were so popular that everyone brought them to church with them.  Presumably because there were so many, a rule was passed by the church that only greyhounds with an "angel kiss" which is a small spot on the head of some particolored greyhounds could enter the church.  White and particolored dogs could only be owned by nobility and royalty.  Commoners could have the solid colored and darker colored hounds, but still were not allowed to hunt with them.  There is even a period in history known as The Greyhound Wars.

There is a lot more history to greyhounds than that, but I thought it would be fun to share that little tidbit here as we think about Saint Patrick's Day.  I don't drink, but if I did, I'd drink a toast to those who spared my favorite breed. 

I think the history may explain why greyhounds today still have a sense of regality to them.  I know that our current girls all believe they are queens and princesses.  Since they still have the inborn desire to hunt, I'm sure they still feel the sense of entitlement that comes from being born the companions of kings.  Fortunately for me, they are simple rulers with few demands.  Excuse me now while I go fluff some dog beds and prepare some kibble fit for royalty!

Blueberry Types for the Blog


  1. That last pikh shows the winner of The Great Greyhound Wars!

    Khyra & Khousin Merdie

  2. Very nice.... yes I agree, especially where the girls are concerned. All of them royalty!
    And they are treated as such around here too. :)

    How is Bunny's leg doing? Bunny Hunny, hope your leg is feeling much better.

  3. Thanks for the history lesson. We are sure that the greyhound wars were won considering that fluffy pillow picture to end the post - grins.

  4. Laughing - had to re-post. Our words of the day was "chill" - how appropriate.

  5. What a grand history you have. Hey! I think your dad would look cool in the outfit that king / nobility guy has in the photo. Just a thought.


  6. Ooo that is very interesting! Who would have know the greyhound was such a big part of society then. I think this also says something about Greyhound OWNERS too. Doesn't this make you feel like royalty now? :p

  7. That was very interesting indeed! Thank you for sharing it...we'll think of Bunny with new meaning now. Now a question: TOFFEE thinks he's KING...does this mean he has greyhound in him? :)

    Take care and lotsalicks

  8. Wow, you must be nobility, and I have the honor of reading your blog!

    I had no idea of the history of greyhounds. Thank goodness for the Irish priests... they've had their foibles but they certainly did a great thing when they saved greyhounds!

    Now, go wait on your nobility!

  9. Thank you for the history lesson. I think I like history. Gramma says that Oscar and Emmy are hunting dogs, too. I am a Follow dog, I like to follow Gramma. Sometimes I follow Oscar and that sometimes gets me in trouble. I would follow any of you girls. I like your long legs and sweet faces!

  10. Oh, I very much loved learning about the history of the greyhound! It doesn't make me surprised at all that they comes from royalties. They are Most Elegant!

    Wiggles & Wags,

    PeeS. Bunny, please do not take offense to my post today. After all, it's a bunny bunny, not a Bunny dog. I would NEVER chew your ears off!

  11. Thanks for sharing a bit of greyhound history - did not know any of this! Paintings and art are beautiful, but most exquisite is last picture - yes... royalty!
    Hugs xo

  12. Thanks for the history - I like to read through stuff like this. I had no idea about the whole monastery thing or the fact that greys almost went extinct.

    Historical pictures of the sighthound breeds are always so cool to look at - they're definitely some of the breeds who have changed the least in appearance over the years.

  13. And in some houses, the boys even act like princesses. ;)
    Great post Carrie!

  14. i didn't know anything about the history of greyhounds. thanks for the interesting lesson!
    i guess i need to call you queen bunny from now on! :)
    the booker man

  15. That was a pawsome history lesson and the pictures were great to go with it. Mack needs pictures with his readings because he is a little s-l-o-w, you know.

    Wags and Woofs,
    Mack and Mia

  16. Wonderful history lesson!

    Happy St. Patty's day, too ~

  17. Well we didn't know any of that but had already spotted their very noble history just by looking at Bunny!
    They really are a very elegant breed and we are so glad they survived!
    We feel we have to have a wee Guinness now to toast the greyhound breed on your behalf!!

  18. thank you so much for sharing
    we're full of all kinds of smartiles now
    thanks to you
    pibble sugars
    the houston pittie pack

  19. Your look at the Greyhound's complex history was quite interesting. Thank you for stopping by my blog to wish mom a happy day. You made mom smile and helped a puppy in need! You have a kind heart!

  20. That was a wonderful lesson. I wanted to hear even more! We all LOVE that last picture.

    Emma Rose

  21. Since you don't drink we'll just have to find someone who does, so he can toast those good people. Funny, but I've been meaning to post about Chis. I have found out something really cool about us and I can't wait to share.

  22. Indeed they do have an air of regality about them, don't they? It's why we called our Renie 'The Princess'. Oh, and Susan, our second greyhound, she would have been allowed in church! She had the most wonderful 'kissy spot'. She was a ticked white, with no other markings but the kissy spot and mottled ears. Beautiful girl. *Sigh*

  23. We didn't know about their history; we just know we admire greyhounds whenever we see them. They're so different from us -- feisty hairy wire fox terriers -- and now we know about their fascinating history.

    Our favorite greyhound story is when I, Jake, -- before JH joined the family -- would go to the dog park, I would start to run with a greyhound and he would not try to outrun me, even though I knew he could. We were impressed!'

    Wirey woofs,

    Jake and Just Harry


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