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What we do know, however, is that the earliest purebred dogs were of the Greyhound type. The Greyhound family has several characteristics in common. Among them are long legs, a long narrow head, a deep chest and theability to hunt by sight hence the term sighthound, or gazehound rather than by scent as most dogs do.

As this type of dog moved to different parts of the world, some of his superficial characteristics, such as the length of his coat and the shape of his ears, began to change to accommodate the conditions of his new environment. Fringe members include Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks which hunt by sight but do not share a physical resemblance and Italian Greyhounds which share a physical resemblance but don't hunt at all.

Temple drawings, dating to B. As people migrated to different parts of the globe, they took their dogs with them. About B. Obviously these dogs were held in high regard for their image to have been added to so personal an item. Not only were the dogs kept as companions in addition to being hunting partners , but they were practically worshipped.

The Egyptian god Anubis was, as were many Egyptian deities, half man and half beast. In this case the beast was, depending on which sources you consult, either a jackal or a Greyhound. In looking at a painting or statue of Anubis, the resemblance to the present-day Pharaoh Hound is unmistakable. The Egyptians valued their Greyhounds so much that the birth of one was second in importance only to the birth of a human boy. Indeed, when a pet Greyhound died, the entire family would mourn by shaving their heads, fasting and wailing. Greyhounds were mummified and buried along with their owners, and the walls of the tombs were often decorated with figures of favorite Greyhounds that had died before their owners.

Cleopatra, too, was an aficionada. While the ancient Israelites did not worship Greyhounds and, in fact, seemed to regard dogs in general with disdain, they did make an exception for the Greyhound. It is the only breed of dog named in the Bible. Proverbs reads: There be three things which go well, yea, Which are comely in going: A lion, which is strongest among beasts and Turneth not away from any; A Greyhound; A he-goat also.

The dogs' popularity caught on to such an extent that even the Greek hero Alexander the Great kept one, which he named Peritas. The first dog mentioned in literature, in B. In the Odyssey , Homer told the tale of the return of Odysseus, who had been away from home for 20 years. The only one who recognized him was his Greyhound, Argus, who was only a pup when Odysseus left. Greek mythological figures were frequently portrayed with Greyhounds.

Hecate, goddess of wealth, is often shown accompanied by a Greyhound, as is Pollux, protector of the hunt. And, of course, the famous story of Actaeon and Artemis tells of the goddess taking revenge on Actaeon by turning him into a stag and setting her 48 Greyhounds on him. Their gods and goddesses, too, had Greyhounds, and the most well-known story is of Diana, goddess of the hunt, who gave her best friend, Procris, a Greyhound named Lelaps.

Lelaps accompanied a hunter into the woods and, when the dog spotted a hare, went off in hot pursuit. The gods watched the scene and, not wanting the hare to be killed, turned both it and Lelaps into stone. This scene of Lelaps chasing the hare is often depicted in Roman art. The Romans loved to run their Greyhounds, but in even those bloodthirsty days, there was at least one person who had a vestige of humanity.

They were saved, however, by clergymen who protected them from starvation and bred them for noblemen. It was during this period that ownership of a Greyhound became the exclusive right of the nobility.

So how do I get one?

King Canute enacted a law in in England that prohibited any "meane person" from owning a Greyhound and punished any infraction severely. A hundred years earlier in Wales, King Howel decreed the punishment for killing a Greyhound was the same as for killing a person - death. Since Greyhounds were the first breed of dog mentioned in literature, it is only fitting that they also were the first breed of dog written about in the English language.

In the late fourteenth century, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in The Canterbury Tales , "Greyhounds he hadde as swift as fowels in flight. The game's afoot! Among those who saw fit to immortalize these dogs in art were Veronese, Pisanello and Uccello. While Veronese's works tended toward the sacred, Pisanello and Uccello seemed to appreciate the Greyhound form for its own sake.

Uccello's painting "Hunt in the Forest," for example, shows dozens of Greyhounds in a dark woods helping hunters capture their prey. As coursing was originally practiced, two Greyhounds would be "slipped" released in a field to run after a hare that also would be released but given a yard advantage. The victor was not necessarily the dog that caught the rabbit, and, in fact, quite often the rabbit escaped.

Instead, the dogs were judged by a complicated set of rules that valued such things as the dog's agility and concentration. In the mids, a set of rules was developed that helped popularize the sport and caused it to spread throughout Great Britain and across the Continent.

His idea was that by breeding a male Bulldog with a female Greyhound, the result would be a dog that had a uniformly smooth coat which had eluded breeders up until that time and which would possess what Lord Orford called "courage. They had a much longer muzzle and resembled Bull Terriers. Lord Orford's crosses continued for seven generations, and the resulting dogs were of such high quality that those who had previously been skeptical were now clamoring to buy his dogs.

Things to Know Before you Adopt

Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. That's the estimated number of retired racers who were available for adoption each of the last three years based on calculations from the National Greyhound Association and the American Greyhound Council. Only 18, retired racers are being adopted annually, which means that more than 7, Greyhounds are still needlessly being put to death every year.

But, just because I can't think of any reasons not to adopt a retired racer, doesn't mean they're the right dogs for you and your lifestyle. Do your research carefully before you make a retired racer or any dog a part of your life. You know what you're getting when you adopt an adult dog.

Regardless of breed, adult dogs make good adoption choices. You can easily put your common sense aside when you look at a cute little puppy and make choices only from your heart. But many people who get a dog because they couldn't resist that cute puppy face live to regret it, because they don't realize what they're in for. Looking at an pound dog is good reality therapy.

When you adopt an adult dog, you get to see the adult personality and temperament. The temperament a dog has as an adult is often different than what you would have seen in the same dog as a puppy. You also get to see the physical characteristics of a full-grown dog. You know exactly what size the dog is going to be. That can make it easier to make a good choice. Plus, aside from getting a great companion, you just plain feel good about adopting a grown dog whose fate is otherwise uncertain at best.

Adult dogs require less work than puppies do.

18 Awesome Reasons to Adopt a Greyhound

As cute as puppies are, they are a lot of work. Aside from having to be housetrained, puppies teethe, chew, and need much more exercise and attention than adult dogs. And the work doesn't last for just a few weeks. Many breeds have the characteristics of puppies until they are well over two years old. Retired racers are great house mates.

Retired racers are low-maintenance. They require minimal grooming; their exercise needs are low to moderate for a dog of their size. They're compliant and have a personality that helps them adapt quickly to a new lifestyle. Most Greyhounds are naturally laid-back, well mannered, and sensitive. Plus, they're intelligent and respond well to the right training methods. Sounds like a great house mate to me! Retired Racers adapt to a variety of lifestyles.

A retired racer isn't perfect for every family, but he can fit perfectly into almost any lifestyle, as long as you take the time to pick the right retired racer and teach him what he needs to know to be a valued family member. Retired racers are adaptable and do well in loving homes with families who understand their needs. They deserve no less. One of the misconceptions about retired racers is that they are aggressive dogs because most people have only seen photos of Greyhounds racing, with muzzles covering their faces.

The muzzles are used to help protect racing Greyhounds from injury and to determine the winners of close races. Outside of the racetrack, however, Greyhounds are usually quiet, gentle, docile, and compliant. If you're looking for a watchdog, choose another breed. They blend well into families with well-mannered children. Most Greyhounds love the company of other dogs, and many live happily with cats as well.


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Some Greyhounds adapt well to homes with very small animals. Greyhounds don't need much exercise. Another myth about Greyhounds is that, because they're bred to race, they need lots of room to run and constant exercise.

But Greyhounds aren't marathon runners; they're sprinters. At the track, they only race once or twice a week. In homes, however, they romp for short bursts and then turn back into couch potatoes. While a fenced yard is best, a daily walk or two and a chance to run in a fenced yard or field from time to time are sufficient. The coat of Greyhounds is so light and short that grooming is a breeze.

They shed only lightly. Many Greyhounds groom and clean themselves much like cats do.

Their coats aren't oily, so they aren't as prone to doggy odor as some breeds are. Retired racers are free of many of the inherited ailments that plague other breeds. For example, hip dysplasia is virtually unheard of among Greyhounds. Their average life expectancy is longer than that of most large breeds years or more.

You can find the racer that is right for you. With nearly 25, retired racing Greyhounds available each year, you can "design" your perfect dog.

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How to Adopt a Racing Greyhound After the Florida Ban

Know what color you want? You can find a Greyhound to match. Know what size you want, from 40 to pounds? You can find a racer to fit your needs. Want a couch potato or a fishing buddy? No problem. Need a dog who can live happily in the city? You'll find him. Want a companion for your aging mother? There's one that fill the bill. Whatever you're looking for, somewhere there is a retired racer waiting to race into your life and into your heart. Many adoption groups have an annual reunion picnic and sell the obligatory event T-shirt.

Our group's T-shirt from last year's reunion picnic said it all: " Life with a Greyhound is one big picnic. All material on this site is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced in any form or by any means, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, or otherwise without prior written consent of Lee Livingood or the holder of the copyright. Permission is usually granted to download articles for reproduction and use in the newsletters or educational materials of nonprofit organizations devoted to companion animal rescue or training, provided each page of the material is used exactly as it appears, without editing, and each page exhibits the appropriate copyright notice.