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The Greyhound Dog
( Originally Published 1894 )
The Greyhound is characterised by elegance of form and grace of movement; he has also great powers of speed and endurance, is mild and aflectionate in disposition and sagacious in matters other than those connected with the chase. "The narrow, sharp head, the light half hanging ears, the long neck, the arched back, the slender yet sinewy limbs, the deep chest, showing the high development of the breathing organs, and the elevated hind quarters, says Mrs. Bowdich, all shadow forth the peculiar qualities of these dogs. Their coat has been adapted to the climate in which they originally lived: here it is smooth; but becomes more shaggy as they are from colder regions." " The Scotch Greyhound (Canis Swims)," she continues, " generally white, with black clouds, is said to be the most intellectual of all, and formerly to have had so good a scent as to be employed as a bloodhound. Maida, whose name is immortalized as the favourite of Sir Walter Scott, was a Scottish greyhound. The Irish is the largest of all the western breeds, and is supposed to owe this distinction to mingling with the great Danish dog. To it Ireland owes the extirpation of wolves, though it now scarcely exists itself but in name."
The greyhound is now principally bred for sporting purposes, coursing being the favourite amusement. The great speed and endurance of the dog is shown in this pastime. Mr. Jesse records several instances of dogs who have died from exhaustion rather than give up the chase, in one of which it is stated that two dogs and a hare were found dead within a few yards of each other after a run of several miles. Mr. Daniel in his rural sports gives an instance in which a brace of greyhounds chased a hare a distance of four miles in twelve minutes.>/p>
Washington Irving tells the following story of a greyhound's affection for his master. "An officer named St. Leger, who was imprisoned in Vincennes (near Paris) during the wars of St. Bartholomew, wished to keep with him a greyhound that he had brought up, and which was much attached to him; but they harshly refused him this innocent pleasure, and sent away the greyhound to his house in the Rue des Lions Saint Paul. The next day the greyhound returned alone to Vincennes, and began to bark under the windows of the tower, where the officer was confined. St. Leger approached, looked through the bars, and was delighted again to see his faithful hound, who began to jump and play a thousand gambols to show her joy. He threw a piece of bread to the animal, who ate it with great good will; and, in spite of the immense wall which separated them, they breakfasted together like two friends. This friendly visit was not the last. Abandoned by his relations, who believed him dead, the unfortunate prisoner received the visits of his greyhound only, during four years' confinement. Whatever weather it might be, in spite of rain or snow, the faithful animal did not fail a single day to pay her accustomed visit. Six months after his release from prison St. Leger died. The faithful greyhound would no longer remain in the house; but on the day after the funeral returned to the castle of Vincennes, and it is supposed she was actuated by a motive of gratitude. A jailor of the outer court had always shown great kindness to this dog, which was as handsome as affectionate. Contrary to the custom of people of that class, this man had been touched by her attachment and beauty, so that he facilitated her approach to see her master, and also insured her a safe retreat. Penetrated with gratitude for this service, the greyhound remained the rest of her life near the benevolent jailor. It was remarked, that even while testifying her zeal and gratitude for her second master, one could easily see that her heart was with the first. Like those who, having lost a parent, a brother, or a friend, come from afar to seek consolation by viewing the place which they inhabited, this affectionate animal repaired frequently to the tower where St. Leger had been imprisoned, and would contemplate for hours together the gloomy window from which her dear master had so often smiled to her, and where they had so frequently breakfasted together."