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Italian Greyhounds

Updated on March 11, 2012

Meet Luigi Zephyrini

My little greyhound Luigi Zephyrini, or Zephyr for short, has been making his way slowly but surely around the internet. He is a great source of inspiration for many things, including this lens about Italian greyhounds.

One of his main goals is to set the record straight about his origin. Although called an Italian greyhound, the breed did not originate in Italy. Images of greyhounds abound in Egyptian art, and the remains of miniature greyhounds have been found in Egyptian tombs all along the Mediterranean basin. This indicates that their origin actually lies somewhere around countries known today as Greece and Turkey. The association with Italy is more than likely the result of the frequent portrayal of miniature greyhounds in paintings done by famous Italian artists. Indeed, Zephyr claims his true origin to lie with the Gods. Whatever his origin, one thing is for certain, he loves blankets, wrapping up in them or crawling in the covers to the foot of the bed where he can hide in his godly cave, staying true to his roots as the descendent of the Egyptian God of the underworld, Anubis.

Check out Zephyr's Greyhound Awareness blog. 

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Zephyr wrapped in a blanket

Zephyr wrapped in a blanket
Zephyr wrapped in a blanket

Did you know?

The majority of IGs in Rescue are there because the owners didn't understand or didn't have the time and patience necessary to house train a dog.

Life is Good!

Life is Good!
Life is Good!

Eating tortillas

Eating tortillas
Eating tortillas

Zephyr's Divine Ancestry

Zephyr is from a very ancient lineage. Although the origin of IGs are believed to be somewhere around ancient Greece and Turkey, greyhounds were depicted in a great many works of art in Egypt. There were paintings and carvings of tiny greyhounds on ancient Egyptian tomb walls.

What a profile!

What a profile!
What a profile!

A Greyhound Named Jasmine

In 2003, police in Warwickshire , England , opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, a greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, run by a man named Geoff Grewcock and known as a willing haven for animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need..

Geoff Grewcock and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved.

They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

The dog had other ideas. No-one remembers now how it began, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It wouldn't matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, probably, a rhinoceros, Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

Geoff Grewcock relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them."

"But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings.

"She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose."

Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.

And one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, 11 weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection and makes sure nothing is matted in her fur.

"They are inseparable," says Geoff Grewcock. "Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.

Doing what she does best, being a mother.

Doing what she does best, being a mother.
Doing what she does best, being a mother.

Did you know?

Italian greyhounds have been popular with royalty throughout history; among the best known royal aficionados were Mary Stuart, Queen Anne, Queen Victoria, Catherine The Great, Frederick the Great and the Norwegian Queen Maud.

Portrait of the aging Catherine The Great with an Italian Greyhound.

Portrait of the aging Catherine The Great with an Italian Greyhound.
Portrait of the aging Catherine The Great with an Italian Greyhound.

Greyhound Art

Zephyr's ancestors were depicted in preChristian Egyptian artwork. Today, as in the past, Italian greyhounds get along famously with other greyhounds and are social creatures.

Vision des Hl. Eustathius by Pisanello

Vision des Hl. Eustathius by Pisanello
Vision des Hl. Eustathius by Pisanello

Vintage IG

Vintage IG
Vintage IG

Doggie Dementia?

Did you know that older dogs can suffer from dementia just like people do? My greyhound Patty Lived to be almost 15 years. Although I never noticed any signs of cognitive decline (on the contrary, she seemed to get more feisty with age) apparently some dogs are susceptible to age-related dementia. So the next time you call for your older dog and they don't come, don't get mad, it just might mean they're getting a little forgetful.

Read the full story here.

More Books about Italian Greyhounds

Zephyr in a Basket

Zephyr in a Basket
Zephyr in a Basket

Zephyr in a basket 2

Zephyr in a basket 2
Zephyr in a basket 2
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Cold, Hard Cash

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