Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Greyhounds


Erté

The Greyhound, one of the oldest breeds; beautiful, elegant, loyal, gentle, kind and frequently depicted in art...


The greyhound has deep roots in the history of the world. Evidence of the existence of greyhounds over 4,000 years ago is found in murals, sculpture and paintings of dogs strikingly similar to the hounds we see today.

Greyhounds claim descent from the desert dogs of the pharaohs and Arab sheiks. These ancient dogs were held in high regard in the Middle East and were the companions of Egyptian and Arab princes. Etchings of greyhounds have been found on the walls of the tombs of ancient pharaohs. The pharaohs prized greyhounds both as pets and hunters. The Bedouins, too, so admired the greyhound that it was the only dog permitted to share their tents (a high honour in nomadic tribes) and to ride atop their camels.

 Bedouin with Salukis, relatives of the modern day Greyhound and the oldest domestic dog breed in the world.


Greyhounds are the only canine mentioned in Holy Scripture. In the writings of King Solomon (considered to be the wisest of the wise) greyhounds are described as one of the four mighty beings no one should go against (Proverbs 30:29-31).

Greyhounds were introduced in England just prior to the ninth century through the many conquests, crusades, and wars with Middle Eastern tribes. Their speed, agility, and keen eyesight made greyhounds highly prized as sporting dogs by British royalty. Canute enforced laws which stated that only free men could own and hunt with greyhounds. These restrictions, enacted to keep poachers out of royal forests, became known as the "Forest Laws."



Misse and Turlu, The Greyhounds of Louis XV

Eros, Prince Albert's favourite Greyhound, Sir Henry Edward Landseer, 1841



Thomas Gainsborough, portrait of Elizabeth Jackson, C 1760, stroking a young Greyhound



Marchesa Luisa Casati, Giovanni Boldini



Jean Gabriel Domergue

Margaret Gorman, the first Miss America, with her Greyhound 'Long Goodie' 1925


Today Greyhounds are used for racing and hunting unfortunately all too often there are reports of extreme cruelty, abandonment and worse.  Earlier today I was reading about the plight of the Galgos (Spanish Greyhounds):

The Spanish Greyhound, or Galgo, is one of the most persecuted dog breeds. Galgos are used to hunt hares in the Spanish countryside. They spend their lives in damp, tiny, dirty holes or windowless shacks deprived of daylight, exercise and affection. They are typically fed only water and stale bread. At the end of the hunting season, countless are abandoned or worse.

Sadly, the Galgo’s native land still views it as a second-class animal and few Spaniards will own them as pets. They are bred carelessly and used for hunting by galgueros (Galgo handlers). At the end of the hunting season in Spain, the Galgos deemed worthless or too costly to maintain are destroyed in a variety of inhumane ways – including being hung, dumped into abandoned wells, shot, and even burned to death. 

The lucky ones are rescued by a handful of shelters in Spain, operated by dedicated individuals. Almost all of the resources to help the dogs come from outside of Spain, namely the U.S., U.K., Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland and Germany. 

There are a handful of Spanish shelters dedicated to saving the Galgos and other unwanted animals of Spain. Although more and more galgueros are willing to give their unwanted dogs to the shelters, the abuse and torture of Galgos continues. Organizations like GRIN are dedicated to the welfare of the Spanish Galgo and sighthounds worldwide, and assist the Spanish shelters with adoption, veterinary care, and fundraising. 

I have been looking at some horrific images today, I will spare you the details, I was in tears at one point.  Fortunately there are many organisations all over the world who rescue sight hounds and try to re home them. Greyhounds make wonderful pets, people seem to be put off them because they are under the misapprehension that Greyhounds need a lot of exercise, like all dogs they do need exercise but nothing excessive, they are actually rather lazy and enjoy nothing better than lounging about, they can exist perfectly happily in apartments and like to give and receive lots of affection.  I would love a rescue sight hound as a companion for Crusoe, he would love a girlfriend!  I just have to persuade MG.  I was looking at galleries of the dogs up for adoption...more tears, I want them all.

http://galgorescue.org/
http://www.galgonews.com/
http://levriers.net/
www.gap.grv.org.au

If you would like me to include an organisation, let me know and I will add it to the list.



 Bedouin with Salukis

9 comments:

  1. Dash, I can't quite look at the links that you included, not tonight (I already cried over the Steve Jobs obituary that Dominique Browning linked to her on her wonderful blog, Slow Love Life), but I will and I think that it is wonderful that you wrote this post to create awareness. Thank you.

    Also, un grand merci for having read my long post and commented on it. It is so incredibly frustrating when that happens.

    PS. The first Erté drawing was my introduction to Art Deco when I was 15. I carried the postcard of it around in my notebooks for years.

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  2. I first learned about the plight of the galgos on No Damn Blog....hideous, shameful business and thank you for giving prominence to the work of those trying to help these wonderful animals.

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  3. I've never been able to understand how people could look at animals with anything but love. It's heartbreaking. "Loyal, gentle, and kind" - if only all people were. Thanks for this informative read.
    Catherine

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  4. What a great post, Dash. I love dogs, and this story touched me. I also learned a lot since I did not know much about that breed. Now I feel like adopting one ;-) Thank you for giving a voice to these beautiful creatures. Veronique

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  5. Actu Animaux, they often post about Galgos who need help:
    http://actuanimaux.com/
    And a facebook page fighting against dog racing:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shut-down-Belle-Vue-Greyhound-race-track-in-Manchester/196942227017264
    Warning: very upsetting pictures posted on the latter.

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  6. What a cool blog! I'm so glad I found it. Great job!

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  7. They are the most beautiful, loving dogs. Thank you so much for creating such a caring post about the plight of these lovely dogs.

    Australia has a greyhound adoption organisation :

    www.gap.grv.org.au

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  8. Thank you so much for posting about these majestic, sweet, and horribly mistreated animals. We recently worked with a woman who currently owns five rescued greyhounds and we learned so much about the breeds desperate plight. Her dogs were absolutely beautiful, charming, well behaved, loving, and very loyal to her, we were so impressed. It's such a shame that in this day and age, they are still so abused, you were very brave to read about it all.
    I truly hope you find the perfect friend for Crusoe, they all deserve owners such as you!
    xo J~

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  9. First of all, I'll tell you that I´m spanish. I love galgos (spanish greyhounds) and I hate galgueros and hunters in general. This post is great. The images with those wanderful models and what you writed here. I have a galgo, a she, named Lolita (please, pardon my english) and a borzoi (like those in the Domergue picture) named Tallulah. They are wanderful creatures. It's true all you tell us here, about de sad and criminal, life of the galgos in Spain. Luckily, each year, each day, we can see more and more galgos living like loving pets in homes in the cities of Spain. Each year, more and more spanish people are knowing the galgos like amazing creatures wich is a pleasure living with. Nowadays, in Spain are many shelters and organizations who cares for galgos. And each year, the galgueros are more upset because his bad name or bad fame that themshelfs deserves. Don't forget that they are people (hunters in general) who find great pleasure killing live animals. They are cruel. His days of glory are faded each year. It's a matter of time. And a shame for many, many spanish people, like the bull fights.

    Your blog is great.

    Thank you very much. And again, I´m very sorry about my english.

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