Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Hound Dog of Arabia

"He is a gentleman. He grew up with the saluki." --Arab Proverb
Arabian Saluki Centre (Abu Dhabi) founder and director, Hamad al Ghanem is a fifth-generation breeder of the desert dogs. [Jaime Puebla/The National]

I am fond of dogs. So are the Arabs, although generally they are more cat-people, and dogs are considered unclean, but salukis are exempt. In fact, they often sleeps in tents with their owners, to be protected from the heat of the day and the cold of the night. They don't call them "dogs" as they are much more to them. They are cherished and  valued as al hur (the noble ones) by the men of the desert.

As part of the cultural heritage of Arabian Hunting, Bedouins have been breeding a hunting hound called the salukis for thousands of years. They were traditionally used for hunting and help in catching deer, gazelle, hares and rabbits (but also used in races nowadays). These Desert hounds, which is part of the greyhound family, are interesting in so many ways -- their exceptional stamina, intelligence and loyalty are highly prized by all who own them. It is thought to be the oldest breed in the world by historians and also known as Wind Drinker, Daughter of the Tent, Son of the Desert, Desert Eye by the Bedouins.

In the olden days, salukis were used not only for hunting but also for protecting its owner, their camels and sheeps. They were important part of Arabs hospitality as they were used to guide guests and travellers by following them to their tents.  

Salukis... I have never seen a real one... yet.

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Sources:

Other articles about Salukis: