The Hare and Many Foes

by Charles Dawson Shanley

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in the Atlantic Monthly magazine, in June 1873 (Vol. XXXI - #188). This section of the article discusses the sport of coursing hare.

Coursing the hare with greyhounds, which is a sport quite different from that of hunting it withthe English hare harriers, is much practised in England and some other European countries, and is often conducted in a very scientific manner, and according to a code of rules. In some respects it may be compared with racing, as the dogs are pitted against each other for speed. These finely bred dogs are said to be of Asiatic origin, and the original stock from which they are derived is yet maintained in Persia and other countries of the East. I saw, not long since, in a menagerie, a brace of dogs called tiger-hounds from the East Indies, which were very much of the greyhound build, and seemed fitter for the chase of hares than for coping with savage beasts of prey. In England, high-bred greyhounds fetch very large prices; and their breeding is attended to with as much care as that of high-bred horses. Their training has been reduced to a science, and they take their daily exercise in body-clothes, just like racers. At the regular coursing meetings, - such as the Ashdown, for instance, - the sport is conducted with great formality and detail. The functionary in charge of the dogs is called a "slipper," and his duty is to let the dogs loose at the hare, from a leash. These slippers are regular professionals, and their advertisements that they are open for engagements are to be seen in the sporting papers. As carried on in the country at large, by private individuals and small clubs, coursing is a very inexpensive sport. Anybody who can afford to keep a brace of greyhounds, and pay for a game license, can enjoy it. Horses are by no means necessary to this kind of chase, which can be followed on foot, a course generally taking place within a limited area. When the hare-finder announces that he has marked a hare lying in a hedge, or in a furrow of some open field, the person in charge of the dogs - a brace usually slipped at a time - walks up to the place indicated, the eager hounds straining upon the leash, with their eyes almost starting from the sockets, knowing well that the hare is near by in close ambush, and may start up at any moment. Puss does not usually start until the dogs are close upon her, and I have more than once seen a slipper touch the hare with a stick before she would move. Then she is off like a streak of lightning; the dogs are slipped, and, bounding with serpentine grace, away they go after her, each doing his best to give her the first turn, these turns being credited to the score of the dogs, respectively. She does not usually run far before she is forced to double, the dogs being often so close upon her as almost to touch her with their noses. Doubling is the hare's game, for she can turn almost on her own length, while the dogs frequently lose several strides before they can get well round, thus giving her a fresh chance. In this way a course is often decided without leaving the field in which the hare was found. A strong hare, though, with a good start, will make her way straight across country for a considerable distance, taking all the ditches, brooks and walls in her course in gallant style. On this account, the judge at regular coursing-matches on which money is laid must always be well mounted, so as to keep near the course and watch all its turns and incidents. I have seen a hare pop between the rails of a five-barred gate and then double suddenly back, while the greyhounds went sailing clear over gate, and hare and all dashing furiously on for some distance before they discovered that they had been outwitted. On such occasions as this, - which is called "unsighting," or "blinking," - the dogs stand still and gaze about them with a very sheepish, puzzled air. Greyhounds have no sense of smell, never putting their noses to the ground to recover the trail of a lost hare. Hence it is that the most destructive offshoot of the breed is that having a cross of the terrier, or other keen-scented dog. It is called a "lurcher," and is the favorite companion and aid of English poachers, seldom allowing a hare to escape. There are greyhounds that can run down a hare "single-handed"; but this mode of coursing is not looked upon with much favor, the tact of the dogs in aiding each other to turn the hare being the very essence of the sport. When a greyhound catches a hare, he often pitches it up to a distance of several feet, and will sometimes catch it in his mouth as it comes down again. I have seen a hare so exhausted after a long course as to squat down just as the dogs were upon her, the dogs also dropping from sheer want of wind, and the breath from their nostrils blowing up the fur of the poor puss, as she lay panting just at the tips of their sharp noses.

Coursing and Racing Dogs
(Freeman Lloyd)

(not exclusively Borzoi)

Coursing Excerpt from The Beasts of the Prairies

Dog of All the Russias
(W. Haynes)

Dogs of Today - the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi

Dogs That Hunt Bears and Wolves (Excerpt)
Freeman Lloyd

Excerpt from Hutchinson's Encyclopedia

Excerpt from the Kennel Encyclopaedia

Freeman Lloyd on Borzoi

Hound of the Czars
(Walter Dyer)

Hunting Dogs: Sighthounds and Scenthounds
(L. P. Sabaneev, 1899)

Hunting Large Game Excerpt

J.B. Thomas Says American Borzoi Lead the World
(Micheline de Zutter)

An Outline of the History of the Borzoi
Baron G.D. Rozen, 1891

Ruby de Bolshoy
(Melanie Richards)

Russian Wolfhounds of Yesterday and Today
(Freeman Lloyd)

RWCA's History (1930)

the Borzoi
(H. W. Huntington)

the Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound
(Major Borman)

the Hare and Many Foes

the Russian Borzoi (excerpt from "Dogs From All Angles")

the Russian Wolfhound
(James Watson)

the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi
(W. Johnston)

Twentieth Century Dog - Borzoi Section

Watson on Borzoi

 

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