Greyhound Racing: Background information when reading Warlight

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by Michael Ondaatje

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje X
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
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    May 2018, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Greyhound Racing

This article relates to Warlight

In Michael Ondaatje's novel Warlight, the narrator assists with "importing a dubious population of unregistered foreign dogs" into England for the sport of dog racing.

Greyhound racing - click for larger imageModern dog racing is an outgrowth of an older sport called "coursing," in which dogs hunt game by sight instead of using their sense of smell (hounds as a category are dogs bred to hunt and they generally fall into two categories – sight and scent). Two dogs are raced at a time pursuing one hare and are judged by not only their speed and success in catching the hare, but their ability to turn it, trip it, and kill it. This type of racing, first described by the Greek historian Arrian in 15 CE, became immensely popular in England, Ireland and Scotland during the 16th century. The first known set of rules for coursing – "The Laws of the Leash" – was drawn up by Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and the first known coursing club was established in 1776 in the market town of Swaffham in Norfolk.

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