Greyhounds (or greyhound-like dogs) are one of the oldest known breeds of dogs, with preserved hounds being found in Egyptian tombs. According to 'Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies', Greyhounds evolved as long as 8,000 years ago. Their body is bred for long, lean limbs, flexible spine, and an aerodynamic profile.
In period, Greyhounds were used as sighthounds for hunting rabbits and other small game, and also for sport as coursers. For centuries, only royalty were allowed to own Greyhounds.
Guinefort and the Cult of the Greyhound
Guinefort was a 13th-century dog that received local veneration as a saint after miracles were reported at his grave. The cult has it that the greyhound lived in a castle near Lyons, France, and protected the infant son of the lord from a snake. Having killed the snake that was making for the child the nurse entered, and let out a scream on seeing the blood around the cradle. The child was nowhere to be found, since it was hiding under the cradle. A knight followed and slayed the greyhound, believing him to be the killer. On realising the mistake the family dropped the dog down a well, covered it with stones and planted trees around it, setting up a shrine for Guinefort. Guinefort became recognised by locals as a saint for the protection of infants. It was alleged by Catholic commentators, dismayed by the worship of a dog, that the locals sacrificed babies at the site.
The feast of St. Guinefort is celebrated on August 22.
This article is adapted from the Wikipedia article on St. Guinefort.