The Versatile Borzoi ...
Borzoi as Lurecoursers
Lure coursing is a popular sport in several countries after its invention in California in the early 1970s. Queensland enthusiasts had the first coursing club in Australia and its popularity quickly spread to other States. It is great exercise for the dogs who really enjoy it.
Borzoi as Hunters
Hunting is what Borzoi were bred to do. In Russia, they were well known from the 12th century as the great coursing hounds of the aristocracy. Before the liberation of the serfs in 1861, some establishments kept Borzoi by the hundred and Samsonoff's great estate had over a thousand Borzoi. Owners in the 1800s spent fortunes gambling on their Borzoi's hunting prowess and good dogs were exchanged for real estate and special favours.
The Borzoi traditionally hunted hare, fox and wolf but have diversified since the days of the Russian hunts. These days it is used for mink hunting in Russia as well as the usual game as a Borzoi does not damage the pelt. In America, Borzoi have also been used on coyote, and in Australia's early days Borzoi were kangaroo hunters.
The breed loves to run and chase and if there is nothing else available, they will play tag with each other. Even in old age, a Borzoi is playful and enjoys the company of other Borzoi. Stud males will live together happily.
Borzoi in Obedience
Most dogs stay well clear of flames, but Ch GAZEHUND ZAREENA CD (3/8/76-3/4/85) had little fear of fire and was an expert at leaping through flames. "Rena", who was owned and trained by Lenny Ireland, was in fact the first Borzoi in the world to be trained to jump through a fire hoop and was often featured at displays and events throughout South East Queensland.
"Rena's" talents though, did not end at just fire hoops or the show ring. She also held a CD title - only the third Borzoi in Queensland to do so. Borzoi can be difficult to train, and Lennie through patience arid many hours of devotion proved to many that Borzoi were not "just a pretty face".
Borzoi as Performers
Borzoi as Performers
In Europe, there was a rather famous circus act with 12 Borzoi giving outstanding performances of agility. They were featured as part of a circus special on TV a number of years ago. At the finale, the last two Borzoi did spectacular leaps over the trainer's outstretched arms at shoulder height.
Imports to Qld, Ch BORSCANA HONEY BEE GOOD (Imp Sweden) and Am & Aust Ch KIROV WHERE THERE’S SMOKE (Imp USA) starred in the Australian Ballet performances of ‘Giselle’ in 1998 and were so good that the ballet company wanted to borrow them for future productions interstate.
Borzoi have also been noted musical stars. Pink Floyd feature one very talented Borzoi Mademoiselle Nobs who sings along to the harmonica on their album Live at Pompeii the Directors Cut.
To see the Mademoiselle Nobs clip 'live' on YouTube - please click on the link below
Borzoi in Movies and TV Series
In films, Borzoi pop up everywhere. The silent era took advantage of their popularity at the time and they became a symbol of glamour. In more recent times, the Russian film "War and Peace" staged a real wolf hunt and there were dozens of Borzoi to be seen doing what they were bred for. The star of this film `Boran' who actually catches the wolf was later exported to England.
Over the decades many films have featured scenes with Borzoi in them, and include the following:
“St. Jorgen Holiday” (1930), “Hello Dolly”, “Excalibur” (1980's), the Boris Karloff classic “Bride of Frankenstein”, “Easter Parade” with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland, a hunt scene in “War and Peace (1968), in TV series "Wings", The Borzoi brothers, Rocket, Missile, and Jet - in Japanese animation “Ginga Densetsu Weed”, Boris in Walt Disney's film “Lady and the Tramp”, “Wolfen”, “The Great Ziegfield Follies”, the1995 Russian movie ‘Peculiarities of the National Hunt’ has flashback scenes to a wolf hunt of the 19th century, "Onegin" (1999) has several scenes with Borzois in a Russian landowner's mansion, Digger in the 2000 Disney film “101 Dalmatians”, “Gangs of New York” (2002), “Chaplin” with Robert Downey Jr, an episode of the original TV series “The Avengers” with Emma Peel (1964), “Maverick” (1994) with Mel Gibson, TV series “’JAG”, “Sleepy Hollow” - at the end of the movie, “Last Action Hero” - being walked out of the Police Headquarters, “A Knights Tale” (on the DVD deleted scenes), “Love at First Bite”, “Legends of the Fall”.
Queensland Borzoi on TV
Over the years, numerous Borzoi have enjoyed being featured in locally and nationally produced TV programs and commercials.
In the early 1970s, Ch KOROTAI KRASIVAJA ANTONIINA (Imp Finland) and Ch FALCONCRAG JAGA were borrowed by Channel 10 to pose with various TV stars for publicity shots - though they found the Borzoi to be such showoffs that they upstaged the stars! In 1973, the same two Borzoi, plus KEEPERS PRINCE ARKLE (Imp UK) were also featured on a Saturday morning TV program about different dog breeds, hosted by Peter Jermey.
Ch ARRAGORNE AMETHYST and a litter of her pups were featured in a breed segment on a Channel 9 childrens afternoon program in 1979, and CH ZOBORI ZAMANSHAH featured on Simon Townsend's Wonder World in the 1980's, also in a segment on Borzoi. In 1993, Borzoi including Ch’s RUSSKIMIR OPROMIOT, SOLARIS, SHADOFAX and VALESKA were filmed for a segment on the TV show ‘Totally Wild’.
A national PAL television advert featured VILDZDAR ALEXEI VLADIMIR and his sister LADY LUCRETIA, Ch MINDEAN MISCHKA, and MINDEAN APHRODITE. Earlier commercials had Ch SVETLANOV SYRACUSE and Ch MISHKOVA MAZEPPA in a scratch-it advert and Ch RUSSKIMIR MARINSKY and Ch RUSSKIMIR OPROMIOT were used in a Sunday Mail promotional advert.
Borzoi in Books
The book “War and Peace” contains a detailed description of a wolf hunt. In “Dark Symphony” by Christine Feehan, Byron gives his lifemate, Antonietta, a black Borzoi named Celt, and in the factual book 'The Story of San Michelle' by Alex Munthe, Borzoi are mentioned several times.
Another book is 'The Animals came in One by One' by Buster Lloyd-Jones, an English vet in England during the war. He searched bombed out areas for dogs which he rescued - including a Borzoi bitch who later escaped into a lake and started to whelp under water. A pup from this litter went on to become a champion.
The science fiction novel “Shaggy Planet” by Ron Goulart features hounds that although not named as Borzoi, have the description of Borzoi, and the cover illustration features a Borzoi.
Borzoi in Fashion
Borzoi have joined models in fashion shows from the 1890s to the present. Vogue magazine is typical for using Borzoi to denote glamour, wealth and elegance when advertising clothes to their clients.
A number of locally bred Borzoi featured in fashion shows in the mid 1990s, with Ch RUSSKIMIR SOLARIS and Ch RUSSKIMIR XAHEDI featuring in an Autumn Fashion Extravaganza at the Sheraton Mirage at the Gold Coast, and were such a hit with patrons that one man on being refused his two offers to buy one of the dogs for his wife, handed over a blank cheque to the owner to fill in any amount! He must have had a very determined wife ... but ... sorry, no sale!
So too, Ch TREVNOI BLUEJEAN BLUES, Ch TREVNOI CINNAMON GIRL, and Ch DELAWARE SLIDE were star attractions of the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Gala Fashion Extravaganza in the early 1990s. They also featured in promotion of the David Jones Winter Fashions campaign, sharing the limelight with a very attractive model sporting a $10,000 mink coat – and needless to say, the Borzoi were the only ones far more interested in the mink coat rather than the model … much to the dismay of the coat’s Security Guard!
Borzoi in Art
Borzoi have caught the artists' imagination for decades in all kinds of media but are particularly known in statues from the 1800s. Art Nouveau and Art Deco bronzes are quickly snapped up by collectors. An Italian company even produces life size Borzoi in ceramics for living room decor for those that can afford them.
Borzoi appear in paintings, stamps, tablecloths, ornaments, Art Deco book illustrations, calendars, posters, commemorative plates, mugs, badges, tea-towels, and you name it. Prices vary from cheap to several thousand depending on the article. Australia's most public Borzoi statue is probably also the least recognized. The huge bronze fountain in Sydney's Hyde Park depicts Diana the Huntress with a captured stag. It was made in the 1920s when Borzoi popularity was high and the sculptor put in two Borzoi at Diana's feet instead of the usual greyhounds. Have a look some time.
Other Famous Borzoi
The Borzoi is the symbol of Alfred A Knopf publishing house.
Ben was the white male borzoi, beloved of EJ Smith, Captain of the Titanic.
Captain EJ Smith with his Borzoi 'Ben'