The charm of the lurcher

By: Geraldine Cove-Print


The charm of the lurcher

The only hounds I have ever owned have been the horizontally blessed Dachshunds, but I can see why so many people love the hound breeds, there is such a variety of shapes, sizes and coat textures. 

  The history of certain hounds in the UK goes back many centuries and what a colourful history it is! 

  Owning an Irish Wolfhound, Deerhound or Greyhound had been a privilege of the more wealthy in the violent 14th century, to still enjoy the many talents of a fast sight hound and not lose your head over ownership, people began to breed sight hounds with either a terrier or a pastoral breed to produce a lurcher. The gypsies of Ireland and England took great pride in breeding lurchers for sport and as a useful dog to pick up something for the pot. 

  We still love lurchers it seems, whether it’s the classic sight hound to collie cross or something more exotic that should strictly be called a longdog, the mixtures are fascinating. These dogs are made for running so when one goes missing, he really could cover a lot of miles before he is found. 

  Jenny Symmons of Southern Lurcher Rescue told me about Elmer who had been taken out for a walk by owners David and Vivianne on the hills around Houghton in West Sussex, the couple had adopted Elmer and his sister Nicole six years ago from SLR, but their walk turned to drama when Elmer was frightened by a car that caught his back leg when passing and he sped off into the woods. 

  The couple called on friends and family to help look for Elmer and the rescue organised searches across the rural landscape, his picture appeared on posters and on DogLost yet only sporadic sightings of him were reported.

  Dave and Vivianne virtually moved into the woods in the area where he had gone missing and set up camp, night after night, hoping for a glimpse of their much loved dog. Ten days later the start of the 4.20 horse race at Fontwell Park was delayed when a brown dog ran across the course and dived under the lorry holding the outdoor events LED big screen. Helpers arrived and coaxed the terrified Elmer out from his hiding place much to the intense relief of everyone who had been involved in the search.

  Apart from losing 8kg in weight and carrying a few passengers in the shape of ticks Elmer seems none the worse for wear, perhaps there are fewer bunnies in Bluebell wood for the moment. 

  Southern Lurcher Rescue tends to rehome within 200 miles of its Essex base in Harlow, it is always looking for sight hound savvy new homes and really appreciate any volunteers offering to home check or transport. The lurchers are always carefully assessed before the rehoming process begins and that includes cattitude! Many sight hound and sight hound crosses are excited by cats, their powerful prey drive comes into effect and it is a rare lurcher who is at ease around felines.

  It is difficult to generalise about lurchers because they are the product of, in most cases, two distinct breeds with their own set of foibles and traits but they were bred for speed and intelligence. This type of dog is part of our history, how interesting to note that they are beginning to find favour with those who a few years ago would have chosen a recognised ‘pedigree’ breed; the charm of the lurcher endures.

  If you would like to know more about SLR go to It is a registered charity and its record speaks for itself.

  Another story now of a missing canine, this dog was snatched in July by a couple who then threatened the walker with a knife. 

  Lexi is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier type and was being taken for a walk in Darlestone Park, West Midlands, by a relative of her owner Lynn Charlton. Lynn was devastated at the loss of her dog and the way she had been stolen, it must have been so frightening for everyone concerned. Two days later Helen and John Bird of K9 Search UK recognised Lexi being walked by a female in the town centre. They challenged the young woman and persuaded her to let them take Lexi back to her owner and to give herself up to the police. 

  When Helen and John handed Lexi back to Lynn there were tears of joy as they were reunited.

  The case was recently heard, where the young woman pleaded guilty to all charges. She was given an 18-week custodial sentence which was suspended for 12 months. Under the supervision order she is required to attend a programme to tackle why she committed the crime. She has to pay £85 costs, £100 compensation and a surcharge of £80. 

  I personally find the sentence puzzling, in my opinion the theft of a dog is as important as the theft of, say, a beloved personal possession and the use of a blade in such a threatening way surely should be considered a very serious crime that could escalate into tragedy if no meaningful action is taken. It is yet another account of the law refusing to recognise the place of dogs in our society and our hearts.

  My congratulations go to K9 Search yet again for a job well done and to John and Helen Bird in particular for taking action and bringing this story to a happy ending.