Raptors of the canine world

As anyone who has ever owned a sighthound will tell you, a walk in the park isn't exactly a walk in the park.

Thursday, 18th January 2018, 8:30 am
Updated Thursday, 18th January 2018, 9:30 am
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With their 270 degree range of vision, eyesight so sharp they can detect the slightest movement at 800 metres and ability to run so fast they set off speed cameras, the sighthound is the velociraptor of the dog world.

We’ve been lucky enough to have our saluki/whippet cross Walter for just over two years now, and when we’re out on walks, people who I’ve never met know him by name as he shoves his pointy head into their pockets. As puppies, it’s a good job they’re so adorable because they’re feral.

His behaviour back then nearly got me attacked by irate dog owners on two separate occasions as his chase instinct kicked in and he ran his new playmates to ground in two seconds flat.

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Don’t get the wrong idea about Walt, he’s grown up into a lovely natured dog who gets as good as he gives with his big dog mates round the park – he’s got bits missing from both ears and loads of nicks in his fur where games of “bitey face” got a bit hardcore.

It’s just that any sighthound owners who have watched the new series of Black Mirror on Netflix in the past couple of weeks might just have recognised their pet.

There’s an episode called Metalhead, shot entirely in black and white that looks like a Depeche Mode video from 1990, where a team of scavengers roam a post-apocalyptic wasteland while being hunted down by robot dogs. The team, led by the phenomenal Maxine Peake, run for their lives from a robot hound that I would bet my house was designed by a sighthound owner – the way it bolts after our Maxine and corners like our Walter when he’s seen a squirrel.

There’s a scene later on when the robot dog expertly attaches a knife to his leg and goes at a newly painted bedroom wall like a bull at a gate, which will strike a chord with anyone who has raised a sighthound from a destructive pup and has had lots of practice at wallpapering.

Anyway, as humanity battled for its very existence in Metalhead, I was rooting for the dog.