Greyhounds have had a special place in history for a long time and, until modern times, were treasured by their owners, usually royalty or noblemen, and treated as one of the family. We thank Claudia Presto of the Greyhound Gang for this passage.
The greyhound, as we know it today, was worshipped in ancient Egypt. The death of a favorite greyhound was treated the same as the death of a human. Families shaved heads, stopped eating, wailed, mummified and buried their pets with their owners. Greyhounds traveled from ancient Egypt to ancient Greece and were treated with the same reverence. The same is true for ancient Rome. Gods in all three cultures were portrayed with greyounds -- Anubis in Egypt is sometimes interpreted as part man, part hound. The Greek gods Hecate, Pollux and Artemis all had greyhounds as companions. In Rome, Diana was just one of the many gods who were protrayed with greyhounds. It was in ancient Rome that it appears that greyhounds started racing after hares as a sport.
Greyounds almost became extinct during the Middle Ages as famine and pestilence spread across the land. Men of the cloth saved them and the nobility claimed them as an exclusive right of their own. It is during the Renaissance that greyhound were painted and immortalized. Both Chaucer and Shakespeare mentioned greyhounds in their literature. In the 1700s, greyhound coursing became popular and spread across Britain and Europe. During the same time, bulldogs were bred with greyhounds by an English nobleman named Lord Orford and these crosses continued for seven generations and were very popular.
Getting to America
As the Britons emigrated to America, they brought their greyhounds with them. They found them ideally suited to chase down rabbits that were interfering with their crops. This led to bets and wagers among the farmers as to who had the faster dog. In the 1900s, an artificial lure and an oval track led to the first formal greyhound wagering, the forerunner of our greyhound racetracks.
Our Greyhound's Former Life
Greyhound litters usually produce 4-10 puppies. Once weaned, puppies are placed in a fenced area to play and grow. Usually when they are around one year old, they are kenneled and their track training begins. They are taught to chase a lure and race counter-clockwise. It is usually at this time that it is determined whether or not they will become racers. When greyhounds are kenneled, they are kept crated for the majority of their time. Crates are placed one on top of another, side by side. Crates are usually three feet deep and two feet wide. Trainers usually care for 20-60 dogs within a kennel. Greyhounds are muzzled and let out to relieve themselves with a pack of other same-sex greyhounds up to five times a day depending on the kennel. A racing or training greyhound is also let out of the kennel to go to the track and run 5/16th of a mile up to twice each week. A race lasts about 30-45 seconds. They are fed once a day with a variety of food. It is usually soft, high-protein, low quality and inexpensive. They are not neutered or spayed. This is what a racing greyhound knows.