Admired for their incredible sight (they can see for distances up to 1000 metres) and unsurpassed agility and speed, greys were admired as capable hunting companions. Augustus, a Roman poet, described a greyhound as “swifter than thought or a winged bus bird it runs”.
It was the aesthetic beauty of these dogs that saw them compared to the likes of the Roman God Apollo, and it was their inner beauty that saw them by the hearths — and by the sides — of their human companions for hundreds of years.
The Greek historian Arrian encapsulated the appreciation of the true nature of greyhounds in a written tribute to his own greyhound, ‘Horme’ from as early as 430 BC:
“… while I am at home he remains within, by my side, accompanies me on going abroad, follows me to the gymnasium and while I am taking exercise, sits down by my side. On my return he runs before me, often looking back to see whether I had turned anywhere off the road; and as soon as he catches sight of me, showing symptoms of joy, and again trotting on before me.
If I am going out on any government business, he remains with my friend, and does exactly the same towards him. He is the constant companion of which ever may be sick; and if he has not seen either of us for only a short time, he jumps up repeatedly by way of salutations, and barks with joy, as a greeting to us.
Now really I do not think that I should be ashamed to write even the name of this dog… a greyhound called Horme, of the greatest speed and intelligence, and altogether supremely excellent.”
While greyhounds were considered to be invaluable hunting partners during ancient times, it was clear that their gentle nature, affection and loyalty saw them also become treasured companions.
For centuries to come, greyhounds would be associated with nobility and royalty, and featured in paintings, literature and art.