They’re real: Southern Illinois’ Salukis are dogs with long history

Unless you’re a dog expert, Southern Illinois’ mascot, the Saluki, might sound every bit as made-up as the Jayhawk.

But Salukis are real – they’re similar to greyhounds, but with more hair – and they have a long history that began in the ancient Middle East.

“They date back to 6,000, 5,000 B.C., before the pharaohs,” said Midge Grinstead, executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society. “They’re fast. They’re hunters. They’re kind of a neat dog.”

Kansas University fans at Mutt Run, the Lawrence off-leash dog park, had mixed responses on the mascot, which will be on court along with the Jayhawk during tonight’s KU-SIU NCAA Tournament game.

“Is it a horse?” asked Jennifer Harper.

“Maybe it’s not what I’m supposed to say as a Lawrence resident – it’s actually kind of cool,” said Liz Krull. “Don’t you want it to be vicious and out to get you?”

There was little doubt about who would come out on top of a contest between the mascots – and the teams.

“He can run circles around the Jayhawk,” Grinstead said of the Saluki. “But they’re going to pound him in the end.”

Although they may sound like a made-up animal, Southern Illinois' mascot, the Saluki, is actually a dog with a history that began in the ancient Middle East.