The Hounds of Heaven

Living and Hunting with an Ancient Breed

About The Book

Tracing the History of the Oldest Breed of Dog

In 1992, two Russian movie makers left a cryptic note for New Mexican writer Stephen Bodio at his local bar. It led him to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, where he saw a film about the ancient breed of Central Asian sighthounds known as tazis. He would end up chasing these leads to Kazakhstan, where these beautiful dogs may have existed 6000 years ago. He found evidence in ancient rock paintings that these hounds, ancestors of such modern breeds as salukis and Afghans, were and still are used to hunt with birds of prey and horses in the Bronze Age, all along the old Silk Road.

He brought back several pups to his home in New Mexico, bred them, and placed them with friends, some of whom wanted to use them to increase the genetic diversity of the saluki. Soviets tried to wipe out the breed, valued by tribal people as a symbol of their independence. But the greatest threat to them today might be the show-dog breeder’s closed stud books, though modern attacks on hunting with hounds might destroy their “work.”

The Hounds of Heaven is a celebration of the Asian sighthound in all its names and glorious variety, a lament for disappearing ways, and an adventure. Its characters include scientists, hunters, and memorable dogs; Lashyn, the jealous girlfriend, who destroyed the bonsai; Ataika, the Kazakh princess who rules the world, who taught herself to hunt with hawk, falcon, and gun, entirely without commands; Kyran, who came speaking only Russian. Bodio blends science, history, and art to tell a tale that has not reached an end yet. As he says, “The hounds are still running.”

Product Details

  • Publisher: Skyhorse (July 5, 2016)
  • Length: 180 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781510705722

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Raves and Reviews

"A writer who gives ideas as well as dogs their warm-blooded due, Mr. Bodio explores one of his great themes: the way we evolved alongside animal companions, a savage symbiosis that helped make us human.” — The Wall Street Journal

"Stephen Bodio writes like Pavarotti sings. He is a master." —Tony Hillerman

"Stephen Bodio's world is wider than ours, more at risk, more consequential. The man writes with mortal grace." —Donald McCraig, author of Nop's Trials and Nop's Hope

"Stephen Bodio's knowledge, wit, and quiet passion have made him a cult figure among literate sportsmen." —Tim Cahill

"Stephen Bodio has that rare gift of seeing animals and landscape without sentimentality but with abiding love." —Ted Kerasote, author of Heart of Home and Out There

"The Hounds of Heaven may be his [Bodio's] best, because it’s not only filled with fine writing and well-researched details, but tells the story of his long sight-hound journey, which has led him back to Central Asia again and again to untangle the origins of the dogs known there as tazis, the ancestors of the dogs we know as salukis and Afghans. He not only explores the history of sight hounds, but has hunted with them both in Asia and dogs he brought back to New Mexico. His journeys enlighten us about the passions that make us hunters of any sort, in particular those hunters fortunate enough to be possessed by dogs." --Loony Rifle News

"A writer who gives ideas as well as dogs their warm-blooded due, Mr. Bodio explores one of his great themes: the way we evolved alongside animal companions, a savage symbiosis that helped make us human.” — The Wall Street Journal

"Stephen Bodio writes like Pavarotti sings. He is a master." —Tony Hillerman

"Stephen Bodio's world is wider than ours, more at risk, more consequential. The man writes with mortal grace." —Donald McCraig, author of Nop's Trials and Nop's Hope

"Stephen Bodio's knowledge, wit, and quiet passion have made him a cult figure among literate sportsmen." —Tim Cahill

"Stephen Bodio has that rare gift of seeing animals and landscape without sentimentality but with abiding love." —Ted Kerasote, author of Heart of Home and Out There

"The Hounds of Heaven may be his [Bodio's] best, because it’s not only filled with fine writing and well-researched details, but tells the story of his long sight-hound journey, which has led him back to Central Asia again and again to untangle the origins of the dogs known there as tazis, the ancestors of the dogs we know as salukis and Afghans. He not only explores the history of sight hounds, but has hunted with them both in Asia and dogs he brought back to New Mexico. His journeys enlighten us about the passions that make us hunters of any sort, in particular those hunters fortunate enough to be possessed by dogs." --Loony Rifle News

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