LEXINGTON, KY (May 26, 2005) What is a Saluki? It’s slinky and sultry, exotic and ancient, with origins clothed in mystery. It has thrived in the tents of nomads for centuries and been depicted in Middle Eastern tombs where it was also mummified in similar fashion to Egyptian Pharaohs. Its virtues are extolled in poetry. In Arabic it is known as “el hor” (The Noble). According to the Saluki Club of America (SCOA), it is “a source of pleasure for its beauty and athleticism.”
Salukis have kept company with kings and peasants for thousands of years. They are “sighthounds” which are bred for hunting, aesthetics and companionship. Greyhounds, Afghan Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Whippets, Basenjis, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Salukis are all considered sighthounds because they rely on their sense of sight far more than their sense of smell in hunting.
Several hundred Salukis from across the United States will be arriving at the Kentucky Horse Park the first week of June to take part in the Saluki Club of America National Specialty Dog Show June 6-11. This American Kennel Club (AKC)-sanctioned show will feature classes in conformation, obedience and lure coursing.
Lure coursing is described by the Saluki Times website this way: “The Saluki chases a plastic lure attached to a motor operated line approximately 600 to 1200 yards long, stretched out in an irregular, zigzag pattern over a field. The Saluki follows this fast-moving lure and is graded on his agility, speed and other attributes. Salukis that excel at this sport are exceptionally keen to chase the ‘plastic bunny’ and follow the lure closely, cutting into the corners deeply and showing blazing bursts of speed.
“Most lure coursing judges admit that the Saluki is the most beautiful of the sighthounds to watch run the lure. The Saluki is a prime hunting machine and weapon; his natural born instincts give him a strong desire to run down and catch whatever he sees moving.”
John Nicholson, Executive Director of the park commented, “We’ve worked hard to make our park a great location for dog shows to be conducted by professionals and attended by the public. Dogs and horses are a natural fit, and the Saluki Show is strategically slated to run concurrently with the Egyptian Event, a horse show for Egyptian Arabian horses.”
He continued, “These are such intriguing dogs. Historically, while Arabian horses were used by their owners for transportation and warfare, Salukis were used by those same owners to hunt food. Interestingly, throughout the ages, hawks were used to assist the salukis in hunting by attacking the head of the prey to confuse it, making it easier for the Saluki to pull down.”
The SCOA portrays the Saluki (in part) as “The whole appearance should give an impression of grace and symmetry and of great speed and endurance coupled with strength and activity to enable it to kill gazelle or other quarry over deep sand or rocky mountains. The expression should be dignified and gentle with deep, faithful, far-seeing eyes.” (Picture a Greyhound with a longer, soft, silky coat and you’ll have an idea.)
Salukis make fine family pets and are good with children if raised with them. Full of character and intelligence, they are, however, rather high-maintenance in that they require plenty of attention and exercise. They easily become distraught and destructive if neglected or mistreated, so careful consideration of their needs and yours should be given before acquiring this (or any) breed of dog.
The Saluki Club of America National Specialty Dog Show will take place June 6-11, simultaneously with the 25th Annual Egyptian Event (June 7-11). The public is welcome and entrance to the event is free with admission to the Kentucky Horse Park.
For more information, contact Patsy Hoy, 610-239-7800, or click on www.salukiclub.org.
Editor’s Note: A photo of a Saluki is available for use in your publication by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kentucky Horse Park is open seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is $14 for adults, $7 for children ages 7-12 and free for children six and under. Admission includes the Egyptian Event, the Saluki Show and the American Saddlebred Museum.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. The park is an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet that hosted more than 900,000 visitors and 15,000 competition horses in 80 special events and horse shows in 2004. The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington. The place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.