Coursing and Racing Dogs
by Freeman Lloyd
published in the American Kennel Gazette, April 1931
If it be true, as many distinguished scientists
believe, that the cradle of mankind was in the East (Asia),
then it would be quite reasonable to be of an opinion that the
coursing or swift-running dogs originally arrived from Asia
into Northern Africa, and subsequently into Eastern and Western
Europe in time to come to America by way of the Atlantic Ocean.
For it would be unlikely that a short-coated,
leggy and non-powerful dog would be tolerated by early peoples
of the Mongolian or Eskimo types who might have reached the
northwestern points of the American continent by way of Northeastern
Asia or the sea, now called Bering, which separates the two
Although the sled dog would be decidedly useful
because of his strength and coat, the long dog of the greyhound
or short, smooth-haired kind, would be entirely unfit for the
perhaps prehistoric man, who first ventured on those expeditions
into the unknown.
So far as the greyhounds are concerned, it
is thought they must have come from the East, as parts and parcels
of all conquering peoples who took great care, indeed pride,
to possess the animals of the conquered, as well as the riches,
ornaments, and women of their defeated enemies.
pictures of the black slave of the Egyptian, known as the Return
from the Chase, [click for pic] will prove that the greyhond
dog was in Egypt at the period of the XVII Dynasty. The print
was made from a painting or a fragment found in the Necropolis
at Thebes, the Greek name for the ancient capital of Northern
Egypt. In very ancient times the city lay on the east bank of
the Nile, the Necropolis on the west. As it grew, however, although
the Necropolis was still confined to the west bank, a vast city
of temples, priests and Necropolis people, to which were added
royal palaces and their accompaniments, covered the western
shore as far back as the desert hills.
It will be borne in mind that our Egyptian
greyhound (with slave) belonged to the XVII Dynasty, the reigning
house that preceded the New Empire. For it was under the XVIII
and XIX Dynasties that Thebes was at the height of its greatness.
Conquering pharaohs brought home trains of prisoners and spoils;
embassies came thither of strange people in every variety of
costume and of every hue of skin, from Ethiopia, Puoni, Mesopotamia,
Asia Minor, Libya, and the islands of the Mediterranean, bringing
precious stones, rare animals, dogs, beautiful slaves, costly
garments, vessels of gold and silver, while the ground shook
with the movement of colossal architraves, statues and obelisks.
Even at this late and perhaps prosaic age -
our own times - how beautiful and engaging it is to contemplate
those processions of oriental magnificence which bowed before
the proud pharaohs who received the gifts - among them those
of the swiftest dogs in the East, the greyhounds speedy enough
to overtake the fastest of gazelles.
As will be gathered, the hare also was considered
a suitable animal for the long dog to course, and the length
and size of the rodent's ears - in the Retour de Chasses picture
- will appear surprisingly great, except to those who have seen
the ears of the western mule-eared jack rabbit. But as we know,
the greyhound has proved himself fast enough for any wild creature
on four legs.
All ages have cried out for more speed. But
it was before that mechanical age, that men - the prehistoric
breeders of horses and dogs - called for the greatest of activities
in those animals of the domesticated kinds used for the purpose
of the chase. The wild canine, bird, and feline were moulded
out of their savage states into half-tamed animals or birds
that could be used to overtake the creatures - other animals
or birds - which in their natural state provided the everyday
provender of flesh for the predatory or destroying animals of
the wolf (dog), hawk, or cat kinds.
And out of these utilitarian dogs, hawks, and
coursing leopards, came the sports of mankind, the pleasure
of prince and peasant, the diversions of hutning, hawking, and
coursing antelopes with greyhounds, flying falcons, and probably
the fastest running of all animals, the long-legged, small-headed
and sinister appearing cheetahs of Asia and Northeastern Africa.
Happily, I am fortunate to be able to furnish pictures that
illustrate each of the amusements of coursing antelopes with
greyhounds, hawks, and cheetahs. And here it can be written,
these sports furnished the very highest of the perfection of
the desires in the way of training predaceous animals and birds
for the overcoming of other of the wilder creatures.
Men, by systems of training, have succeeded
in getting other animals to provide food and sustenance for
the human body. Here, indeed, is positive proof that man is
the highest of the brute creation!
This subject of the swift and coursing dogs
is an all engaging theme - one, moreover, that I would like
to treat upon from the practical or observant points of view.
I feel that the topic of the origin of these greyhounds or greyhound-like
dogs is far, far beyond the limits of research. The origin of
the greyhounds of the smooth- and rough-coated kinds, must be
lost in the mists of antiquity. So I have to fall back on the
pictures that portray the old sports or methods of taking game,
and the experiences of others and one's self while hunting with
greyhounds and hawks in different parts of the world.