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The Greyhound breed is well known for its agility, speed, and love of running. Greyhounds have been seen throughout history as a breed of nobility in both Egypt and England. Here is a brief history of this regal breed, and their introduction to course racing that was borne out of their love of running.
Evidence of the Greyhound breed is first dated back to roughly around 2500 BC in ancient Egypt. Marked on the tombs of by-gone pharaohs are painting and carvings of dogs that closely resemble the notable Greyhound physique. To drop a few names of well-known ancient Egyptian leaders, Tutankhamen, Amenhotep II, Thutmose III, Queen Hatshepsut, and Cleopatra VII are all said to have owned Greyhounds long ago.
Throughout the ages Greyhounds have become popular for their helpful hunting abilities. Unlike other dog breeds, they do not have a particularly keen sense of smell. What makes them excellent hunters then? They are well known for their excellent eyesight and speed. Hunters would use greyhounds in hunting because they could count on their dog to see a moving animal from a long distance away. Because Greyhounds are particularly fast and possess a striking love of running, they are able to spot and catch prey superbly.
In literature and lore, Greyhounds may be seen all over the place. For example, many Biblical versions of Proverbs 30:29-31 mention the stateliness of the Greyhound. Also, the legendary Odysseus arrived home after a 20-year trek and was greeted by his faithful hound upon his homecoming. Also, Diana the Roman huntress, was said to have owned and favored Greyhounds in Roman lore. Greyhounds have also been mentioned in five of William Shakespeare’s plays, as well as in works of Chaucer.
Most scholars believe it was the Romans who originally introduced England to the sport of Greyhound coursing during their occupation in 43 AD. However, there is evidence that supports the belief that the Celtic peoples were already participating in the sport prior to the Roman invasion.
The sport of coursing actually set the groundwork for the sport we know today as simply Greyhound racing. Coursing is the sport in which dogs race for a gaming animal such as a hare or an antelope. Later on in years, coursing by proxy, that is, using a toy or a stuffed hare as the bait instead of a live animal was introduced. Similar to horse racing, people enjoy watching beautiful animals in full flight doing what they love. Also like horse racing, people enjoyed the sport more when they were allowed to place bets on the particular dog or the outcome of the race.
While popularity of Greyhound racing grew in the United Kingdom, it struggled in the United States. Greyhounds were popular among cavalrymen in America’s Wild West because they were excellent hunting helpers and companions. The first official Greyhound race in the United States took place in Salt Lake City in 1907. However, funding for this sport was lacking, and it actually didn’t pick up fully until the late 1920’s in Florida.
These long, lithe, and lean dogs symbolize passion in today’s society for the sport of running. Greyhounds have been known as a breed favored by Egyptian, Roman, and English nobility throughout the ages. The most important thing to remember about this breed is that these dogs choose to race because of their sheer love of running, which has stood as an example to many societies throughout time.
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