The Giant Book of The Dog

Is a title that features in Walking Ollie; it’s a reference book that I used to refer to at night when I was trying to decide which noble breed was to be the one for me until the noble lurcher boy himself crossed our paths. I’ve been looking at a similar type title, Dogs, Dogs, Dogs, Dogs, Dogs, a book my friend Rosie gave me, 10p from a car boot sale. Published in 1962 by Paul Hamlyn it’s of the coffee table size with a cloth cover, the kind of book you used to look up in the library when you were a kid if it was information rather than narrative that you were after. Amongst its treasures is this Saluki-lurcher-type reproduction of a print by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) along with the poem the foot by Dame Juliana Berners, which is from The Boke of St Albans (1486), and sees man’s best fryend come to a poor eynd.

Elsewhere in its pages I discovered the first English greyhound stadium was Bellevue in Manchester (coincidentally enough, a place mentioned in this other boke of mine here: Plug 2). Experts were sceptical about this concept, saying that greyhounds would not be keen about chasing a tin rabbit. The first greyhound meet took place at the great Wembley stadium in 1927. Here AJ Alvin, the managing director, was once persuaded to try Salukis instead of greyhounds. Of the six starters in the first race only two chased the hare – four ran the other way. Why am I not surprised by that?

A greyhounde should be headed lyke a snake,
And neckyd lyke a drake,
Fotyd lyke a cat,
Tayled lyke a rat,
Syded lyke a teme,
And chyned lyke a bream,
The fyrste yere he must learn to fede,
The seconde yere to feld him lede.
The thyrde year he is fellow lyke.
The fourth yere there is none syke.
The fifth yere he is good ynough.
The syxth yere he shall hold the plough,
The seventh yere he will avaylle
Grete bytches for assayle.
But when he is come to the ninth yere
Have him then to the tannere.
For the best hounde that ever bytch had
At the ninth yere is full bad.

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9 Responses to The Giant Book of The Dog

  1. makemeadiva says:

    I’ve seen Afghan hounds race at Crayford and cheetahs at Romford…

  2. Ovookla says:

    I’ve got the Paul Hamlyn, pale blue linen covered ‘Cats cats cats’. Lots of photos of cats before breeding made them look weird, and I used to read it to decide what type of cat I was going to breed when I grew up. It’s on the book shelf next to Paul Gallico’s Jenny, one of his less well known books, with a picture of a cat on the front. This was all before I discovered dogs of course…. bought at a school bring and buy sale circa 1969.

  3. Stephen Foster says:

    It says in teh book that cheetahs were suggested for Wemberley…

  4. Stephen Foster says:

    There’s a great Kodak super saturated photo of ‘a kennel maid exercising greyhounds’ that you will love: I’ll get it scanned in my next stint of scanning and post it up.

  5. Ovookla says:

    Oddly saturated colour in those 60s books don’t you think? And I don’t know if the Cats book was aimed at little girls, but there are lots of odd things like cats arranged in front of a bowl of daffodils etc. Have you noticed anything about the breeds we would now consider over-bred, like the Bassetts etc? The Persians in the old cat book look much more normal, less like someone’s flattened their faces with a heavy based frying pan, hope this doesn’t offend anyone, except the insane cat breeders – well assuming any of those support Stoke.

  6. Stephen Foster says:

    The china dogs are spooky, the stuffed dogs are spookier and the colours are very strange but I suppose that might be early mass print plate technology.

    The breeds are largely unchanged to my eye, with the exceptions of the Weimaraner and the Ridgeback which are both much more four square and heavier set. There’s a plate of a pointer just like one I saw yesterday. That was one reason I put the Dürer print up: it seems to me that hounds were just the same 500 yrs ago and that they never change, they are just the natural born ectomorphs of the canine world.

  7. Ovookla says:

    It’s funny because I did breed old fashioned Siamese when I grew up, peculiar how those earlier pictures seemed to lead me to them, and always a post Christmas litter saved my bacon. But I am upset by the spectral aliens that win prizes now. Are people the same one wonders – speaking as the tiny yappy Dachshund of the people world…

  8. Stephen Foster says:

    Well it’s certainly true to say that the Mogul and all his mates are 3,4,5 0r 6ins taller than their Old Men. That is quite easily explained by the fact that they never had to live on Findus Crispy pancakes and paste sarnies like us : )

  9. Daftburger says:

    Did you ever see the documentary which involved this lot about how dogs evolved to domesticated animals? Fascinating stuff!

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