11th century bas relief, Church of S. Joao Baptista in Tomar, Portugal
The Dog that Saved Portugal - My Favorite Podengo-in-History Story
While we know that the hardy little Podengos traveled aboard the ships of Columbus, Magellan, Vasco de Gama and the Portuguese discoverers, keeping the food stores free of mice and vermin and safe for human consumption, there is another wonderful story that I love. On the facade of Saint John the Baptist Church in Tomar, Portugal, there is a bas relief of the a small Podengo with a rabbit in its mouth (see above photo). The story behind the artwork is that when the Moors invaded and occupied much of Portugal for centuries, the people were often oppressed and unable to hunt or farm freely. The mighty little Podengo would hunt and bring rabbits back to the door of the simple homes, providing a source or nourishment to sustain the people. I have been told that the rabbit in the mouth of this Podengo symbolizes the host, the communion wafer. This story not only brings tears to one's eyes, but shows the richness of the fabric of the Podengo's history and role in the history and culture of Portugal.
Podengos in Ancient History
Our colleague Ed Odson, has been doing research about the Podengo as he develops his artwork centered on this ancient breed. Here is what he recently discovered, in his words:
There is also a quote from "an ancient manuscript of the period of King Songthan of Ayuttaya":
"They like to follow their owner, to hunt in the woods. When they catch an animal, they will bring it to their master. They are loyal to the entire household. They love their companionship. They go everywhere with their masters, even as far as the big yang tree. They are powerful and fearless .... Their ears are pointed erect and their tails stand like the swords of tribesmen.... "
That's pure poetry, and sounds very Podengo-like. Too cool!