Since the days when the old gods still walked the earth, there have been Greyhounds. Even in those early days, they lived with men, and joined them on the hunt. They took delight in chasing the creatures of the field, the squirrels, the deer, and the hares, oh, especially the hares. Greyhounds and rabbits of all kinds have been adversaries since they were created, for the Greyhound was created to chase the hare, and the hare was created to run from the Greyhound.
Greyhounds have always loved to run, and in those early days just as now, some of them ran faster than others. One of the very fastest of the very first Greyhounds was a white female, whose name has been lost to time. She could chase and catch the fastest rabbits on earth, even while running through deep snow or thick fog. She could run faster than any other Greyhound, faster even than the fastest horse. When chasing a hare with another Greyhound, she always came away the winner. Many men brought their dogs to run against the White Greyhound, and all of them went away defeated. Often she was passed to other human caretakers, as men have always been prone to selling animals in return for money. She did not care; she simply loved to run. After triumphing over many opponents, she began to long for new challenges.
One day after yet another monotonous win, the white Greyhound lay down on top of a high hill, and watched the clouds passing by over her head. For the first time, she noticed the white sky hares, hopping happily from cloud to cloud, blissfully free of fear, since there were no predators in the clouds. She leapt to her feet, her sharp Greyhound instincts keen to chase after them. She jumped into the air as high as she could-and fell quite short of reaching even the lowest of the clouds. She jumped again, and again, to no avail. She could not jump high enough to get to the sky hares. In her frustration, she began to bark and snarl at the clouds and their occupants. The sky hares stopped their hopping about, and looked down at her . They shook their heads and called her a foolish dog. This only infuriated the white Greyhound, and made her continue leaping and barking at the clouds even more vigorously than before. She tried running up the hill and jumping. She tried running down the hill and jumping. She even tried to climb a tree-anything to get closer to those clouds and the sky hares. But nothing worked. She remained on the ground.
The white Greyhound lost interest in everything but one goal-reaching the sky hares. She would not eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor run. The humans who tended to her were dumbfounded by her continual leaping at the sky, and the loss of her zest for life, for they could not see the sky hares. Some of the other Greyhounds had seen the sky hares on occasion, but they knew their place was on the earth with their human companions, and they had no interest in things they could neither smell nor reach. The white Greyhound began to pine away from lack of sustenance, but still she could not get to those infuriating and unattainable sky hares.
Finally, she fell to the ground, exhausted, and unable to rise again. Her fixation on the sky hares had taken its toll on her body. As she lay on her side, panting open-mouthed, gaunt ribs heaving with every breath, one of the gods of old took pity on her. He granted her wish to be able to chase the hares in the clouds. With a touch of his hand, large glistening white-feathered wings sprouted from the shoulders of the white Greyhound. Her weakened and starved body grew strong and healthy again, and her white fur gleamed like silver in the sunlight. He spoke to her: “You have shown that the desire for the chase is your whole life. You are the epitome of what a Greyhound should be. I will call you Caelestis*, hound of the heavens. You shall chase the sky hares, and also watch over the other Greyhounds that remain here on earth. When they leave their mortal bodies, you shall greet their spirits and lead them to be with friends and masters who have gone before them.” And with that, he slipped Caelestis in the fashion of the hunters on earth, and she flew eagerly to the clouds on silver wings to pursue the surprised hares in the sky.
The End…or is it?
The Legend of Caelestis, The Winged Greyhound
Author, Kathleen A. Johnson
*(Caelestis, pronounced “Chay-lest-eez”)