ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Mystical, Magical Greyhound

Updated on June 17, 2018
DeniseAlvarado profile image

It's just me, clicking the keys, burning hi-octane conjure and working wonders at the old dirt track crossroads in AZ.

Zephyr, the Italian Greyhound @zephyrtheitaliangreyhound on Instagram
Zephyr, the Italian Greyhound @zephyrtheitaliangreyhound on Instagram

The Origin of Greyhounds

Why is it that we pay so much attention to the mysterious and mystical cat in ancient Egypt and elsewhere, and less attention to our beloved canine friends? Well, it's time to pay equal homage to our dogs, if for no other reason than they have been depicted as symbols of divine gods, sacred animals, and domesticated friends since the beginning of time. In much of the art in antiquity, dogs are depicted in numerous roles and are often dressed in collars and various fashions of the day.

It has been long suspected that greyhounds were the legendary dogs of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Recent investigations into the canine genome and mitochondrial DNA, however, have revealed that the Greyhound breed likely emerged on the plains in Eurasia. It is believed they were probably brought to Western Europe by the Celts.

Illustration of Saint Guinefort, the greyhound who was named a saint by medieval people in a rural area of France around the 13th century. The veneration of St. Guinefort continued for over 700 years despite the protests of the Roman Catholic Church.
Illustration of Saint Guinefort, the greyhound who was named a saint by medieval people in a rural area of France around the 13th century. The veneration of St. Guinefort continued for over 700 years despite the protests of the Roman Catholic Church. | Source

The Legend of Saint Guinefort

Believe it or not, there is actually a saint who is a greyhound! The cult of this dog saint began in the 1300s and persisted for several centuries, until the 1930s, despite the repeated prohibitions of the Catholic Church.

Legend tells of a man who had to leave his newborn child for a little while to tend to some business. He left the child alone with his faithful greyhound companion. While he was gone, a snake entered the home and approached the baby. Before it had a chance to bite the baby, Guinefort sprung into action like any loyal greyhound would do and killed it. When the man came home, he saw the dog with blood all over its mouth and immediately thought he had killed the baby. Tragically, instead of investigating further, he killed Guinefort with an axe. Almost just as quickly, he discovered his mistake. Since then, Guinefort entered the realm of legend, exalted as the protector of children, and elevated to sainthood.

St. Guinefort's Attributes

Venerated in Folk Catholicism

Died: 13th-century near Lyon, France

Feast Day: Venerated locally on August 22

Patronage: Infants, babies, children

Bedtime stories with Zephyr, the Italian Greyhound, "The Holy Greyhound, Guinefort, healer of children since the thirteenth century."
Bedtime stories with Zephyr, the Italian Greyhound, "The Holy Greyhound, Guinefort, healer of children since the thirteenth century."

Who Knoweth the Spirit of Man

Who Knoweth the Spirit of Man by Byam Shaw (1901)
Who Knoweth the Spirit of Man by Byam Shaw (1901) | Source

Gelert

A short walk south of the village, following the footpath along the banks of the Glaslyn leads to Beddgelert's most famous historical feature; 'Gelert's Grave'.

According to legend, the stone monument in the field marks the resting place of 'Gelert', the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great.

The story, as written on the tombstone reads:

"In the 13th century Llewelyn, prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, ‘The Faithful Hound’, who was unaccountably absent.

On Llewelyn's return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince alarmed hastened to find his son, and saw the infant's cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood.

The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound's side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog's dying yell was answered by a child's cry.

Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here" (https://www.beddgelerttourism.com/gelert/)

Gelert's Grave

Gelert's Grave, Beddgelert, 2010
Gelert's Grave, Beddgelert, 2010 | Source

ANUBIS, the Jackel-Headed God

Ah, Anubis, the jackal-headed god of ancient Egypt....sure bears a striking resemblance to my little Italian Greyhound Zephyr when he strikes a certain pose.

Anubis was often depicted as a black jackal-headed man or dog. He was the guardian of the cemeteries. Because jackals could be seen hanging around the cemeteries, the ancient Egyptians began to believe in a connection between animals and the dead. Other dogs were also associated with this god and domesticated dogs were often buried as sacred animals in the catacombs.

Since I first wrote this article in 2006, there was the prevailing belief that greyhounds were related to the ancient dogs of Egypt. Thus, I have opted to keep this little section in this 2018 update as old beliefs die hard. Recent DNA testing shows a link to Eurasia and the Celts, instead.

A crouching or "recumbent" statue of Anubis as a black-coated wolf (from the Tomb of Tutankhamun)
A crouching or "recumbent" statue of Anubis as a black-coated wolf (from the Tomb of Tutankhamun) | Source

Anubis or Zephyr? That is the Question...

Here Zephyr strikes a pose as the god of his ancestry.

Zephyr or Anubis?

Who is the most handsome?

See results

Sighthounds Unleashed

Sighthounds unleashed in Paolo Uccello's Night Hunt (Ashmolean Museum)
Sighthounds unleashed in Paolo Uccello's Night Hunt (Ashmolean Museum) | Source

Attacking the Nubians

Below is a picture of a painted sandal box found in King Tutankamun's tomb by archeologist Howard Carter. Check out the size of these dogs! In ancient Egyptian art, the size of a figure is an indication of its importance in relation to the subject of the painting. Here, it is hard to tell whether or not the size of the dogs are meant to be in proportion to their master, the king, or their enemies, the Nubians. If they were meant to be in proportion to the king, then they are greyhounds (okay, they could be salukis). On the other hand, if they were drawn to be in proportion to the Nubians, then they are a very dangerous breed of dog, indeed.

Photo from "Egypt, the World of the Pharoahs".

Saluki Hounds Attacking Nubian Foes

Two of Tutankhamun's Saluki-like hounds savage Nubian foes. Detail from the left side of the Painted Box (Box 21).
Two of Tutankhamun's Saluki-like hounds savage Nubian foes. Detail from the left side of the Painted Box (Box 21). | Source
"Gray-Hound" in a 1658 English woodcut
"Gray-Hound" in a 1658 English woodcut

"For there is a happening for the children of men, and there is a happening for the beasts-and they have one happening-like the death of this one is the death of that one, and all have one spirit, and the superiority of man over beast is nought, for all is vanity."

— Ecclesiastes 3 verse 19 (Torah)

© 2006 Denise M Alvarado

Give Zephyr a Cyberbone if you Like What He's got to Say!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • cannedguds lm profile image

      cannedguds lm 

      9 years ago

      Leave the cats to the Egyptians and let the whole world tell everyone that dogs are truly man's best friend! I own a very cute Maltese and I adore her very much! I even have the chance to put her cute pics on my personalized Maltese checks ! thanks for sharing this awesome lens of yours! Viva doggie...to the bone!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      my IG, Luce is obviously missing out on something. it's time he joined zephyr and pointed his paw at all things good and more for IG's the world over.Luce lives in Noosa, Australia.

    • profile image

      psychfaerie 

      10 years ago

      Fine IG you have there!

    • profile image

      Bohememama 

      11 years ago

      good question. most dogs are far superior to most humans, if ya askin' me.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)