Saluki heritage runs the gamut; from jello to a big furry rodent

By Thom Gippert

This season NIU plays the likes of the Bearcats, Cornhuskers, Bulldogs, Rockets and Owls. But on this Homecoming weekend, NIU plays host to the Salukis.

What’s a Saluki?

Some people on campus actually know what a Saluki is, but there are some others that have never heard of the word.

The Saluki is the mascot of Southern Illinois University, NIU’s opponent for the homecoming game Saturday.

“Isn’t a Saluki a type of jello with peaches and pears in it?”, said one person who wished to remain anonymous. That would make for an interesting mascot. “A big fruit basket with legs,” the person went on to say.

Although that wasn’t the correct answer, someone else offered their opinion.

“It sounds like a mixed drink,” said junior Alicia Shear. “The mascot would be a large glass and the head would be the swizzle stick,” Shear continued.

“Isn’t it a Polish river?” guessed Joe Greenwood, senior.

At this point none of the guesses were real close, but other opinions kept rolling in.

“It’s a Greek dessert,” said a confident sounding girl who wished to remain anonymous. That response was echoed by many, however.

The guesses finally started to get closer.

“It’s some kind of furry rodent,” said one girl.

“It’s a wolf, isn’t it?” said Bob Baxter.

“It’s a dog, but the only reason I know is because I saw their mascot once,” said senior Darryl Witte.

Finally, the correct response.

A Saluki is the oldest pure breed dog known to man. Salukis were used back in ancient Egypt as hunting dogs, and the appearance resembles that of a Greyhound.

Nowadays the Saluki is used as the nickname for SIU-Carbondale. The nickname stems from the label given to the southern part of Illinois as “Little Egypt”. The nickname is quite appropriate and unique among colleges and universities across the country.

Although there were people who gave far-out answers, there were quite a few who could correctly identify the SIU nickname.