The Reign of the Greyhounds

Reviewed by: 
Joan Dillon

Cynthia's first book, Adopting the Racing Greyhound, has sold over 60,000 copies. Now, in The Reign of the Greyhound, she enthralls us with a popular history of the greyhound from antiquity to present day. 

In the early days of recorded history, a number of the sighthound breeds we know today were classified as "greyhounds" with only two distinct types -- rough and smooth-coated. The rough-coated we know today as Irish Wolfhounds or Scottish Deerhounds. Historical references to Italian greyhounds as greyhounds confuses things even more. In this book, Cynthia has done an admirable job in sorting out the various breeds in the greyhound family. 

The Reign of the Greyhound brings to light a number of little known facts including the darker days of greyhound history when Columbus and various Spanish explorers used greyhounds and mastiffs to pursue and kill various natives of the New World. It also gives an extremely plausible reason why greyhounds did not accompany the English colonists to America -- one which makes a great deal of sense. Greyhounds were associated with the nobility and the English colonies were settled by religious dissenters, merchants and tradesman -- hardly the type of people to own greyhounds. Continuing on, we read of the importation of greyhounds to help Midwestern farmers control jackrabbits and of Custer's greyhounds which were sent away in the care of one very lucky soldier the night before the battle of the Little Big Horn. 

Extremely readable, this book flows along very much like a novel with sixteen pages of full-colored photos to add to the reader's understanding and enjoyment. Readers of Celebrating Greyhounds will remember Cynthia's story about Shooter. Here, we see a photo of Shooter in all his glory winning at Westminster. 

My favorite chapter was the last one which dealt with the current phenomenon of greyhound adoption. The symptoms of "greyhound fever" had me in stitches! Phase One is marked by frequent calls to the adoption agency to report on the new dog's daily progress. Phase Two is when the thought arises: If one is good, how much better would two be? Phase Three occurs when the adopter becomes a foster parent and, depending on the severity of the disease, either adopts every foster dog or holds out till one comes along that they just can't let go. In Phase 4, lack of space finally prohibits any further adoption so the person becomes an adoption volunteer fantasizing, "If I had room, I'd adopt this one." 

If you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift for your greyhound loving friends, you need look no further than The Reign of the Greyhound.

Reprinted with permission from Celebrating Greyhounds: The Magazine, Fall, 1997. © Joan Dillon

Reviewed Publication: 

The Reign of the Greyhound
A Popular History of the First Family of Dogs
Cynthia Branigan
Published by: 
MacMillan General Reference, 866 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Jul 1st 1997

Cynthia Branigan, author of the bestselling Adopting the Racing Greyhound, traces the role of the greyhound from its earliest appearances in classical culture through medieval Europe, the American West, and into the present. Dog lovers will be impressed by this beautiful book, illustrated with historical depictions of greyhounds from every culture. 100 photos. color insert.

*Adoption Groups: This book is available for bulk purchases directly from the publisher

Out of Print: 
Other Greyhound Books (Non-Fiction)
The Reign of the Greyhounds