Saturday, 19 November 2011

Italian Greyhounds

I have been stopped many times and been asked are my dogs Whippets. No they are not Whippets nor are they miniature Greyhounds or even rescue township dogs and defiantly not a buck; seriously I was asked once if Maxy was a baby buck. I should put little horns on Maxy and confuse everyone. Italian Greyhounds have been around a very long time, and perhaps they could be one of the first domesticated dogs, not for working but as pets.

Yes you read correctly in ancient times dogs were domesticated as working dogs, for hunting, retrieving, guarding and even war but Italian Greyhounds were the first pets in a sense. The history is a bit obscure but they have been found in the Egyptian pyramids, in hieroglyphs and even in Pompeii. It is believed that the Egyptians took the smaller working hounds into the palaces and temples as pets. Anubis also known as Lenpw, the Egyptian god, gatekeeper of the underworld looks similar to Italian Greyhounds. Even when they lie down you can see the shape of the Sphinx. But that is where the Egyptian connection ends.

The Romans are thought to have found the small canines in Egypt and the aristocrats took them all over the Roman Empire as pets. And in the remains of Pompeii you can find mosaics of the Italian Greyhounds and signs that were inscribed in Latin "Cave Canem" which means "Beware of the Dog". Well not because they were vicious but beware that you don't trample them underfoot.

The Italian Greyhounds should most likely be called Latin Greyhounds but they came so popular in Renaissance Italy that their name stuck. Only the royalty could afford animals that did not help support the household. Queen Victoria had Italian Greyhounds and there was not a Welsh Corgi in sight. Even the Russian Empress Catherine the Great had the beautiful Italian dogs.

Okay history lesson over. So how did I get onto this topic, well since I only got my Vespa back yesterday after been out of commission for two whole weeks, I was desperate to take Sophia, the name of my belle Vespa, on a long run and I needed to see a previous client at the Old Nederlandsche Bank en Crediet Vereeniging voor Zuid Afrika building in Pretoria Church Square. After getting there a little early I took a walk around Church Square admiring the old buildings and statues. The square is dominated in the centre by a large statue of President Paul Kruger guarded by statues of Boer commandos. The magnificent artwork was made by sculptor Anton van Wouw in the late 1890s and paid for by Sammy Marks. But what caught my eye was astounding. In a plaque showing the swearing in of President Paul Kruger May 1883 there is an Italian Greyhound. No lies, I even zoomed into the photograph to show you. It looks like my dog Patch, well I never knew he was a Time Travelling Dog. Now I am wondering who did the dog actually belong to, Paul Kruger or the person that is battling to hear? Who is that hard to hear person? He obviously owns the Italian dog and is facing away from the swearing in of President Paul Kruger. Was he Sammy Marks? More research is needed.

1 comment:

Jerome West said...

Feedback: The Italian Greyhound at President Paul Kruger's inauguration plaque.

Okay I have found out that there was only one know Italian Greyhound in South Africa at the time and IG could be it. What we know that the IG was given to the Zulu King or a Chieftain. There is an African in the plaque just in front of the IG and if he is the Zulu King he would have been invited to the inauguration. In 1883 when this scene took place the Zulu King Cetshwayo kaMpande had returned to South Africa and the British was trying to restore him back into power over Zululand. But this was opposed by Chief UZibhebhu and his Boer mercenaries. The plot thickens.

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