Dog Tales: Charging with Liadan

The Laird's great hunting hounds appear routinely throughout The Blue Bells Chronicles.

He only dimly heard the voices. Beneath him, the beast’s motions slowed. It tumbled to its knees, flung its head and let out a roar, a dull bass accompaniment to the baby’s high-pitched wails. Niall drove the knife in again through thick hide. His arm trembled with the effort. 
We’re coming, Niall!” 
He heard the dogs woofing. They bounded from the woods into the clearing. 
The boar’s hind legs crumpled. It swung its head, trying to reach him, before it collapsed to the forest floor, rolling onto his legs and pinning him to the ground. The dogs danced around it, darting in and out. It grunted, thrashing its tusks at them. Above him, Lachlan blotted out the rising sun, his spear raised high over his head. 
Please don’t,” Niall whispered with the last of his strength. 
The baby’s screech split the air. 
Lachlan froze. Perplexity crossed his face. 
I’m under the boar,” Niall said slowly. “Do not drive that spear through me.”

Westering Home
Book Four, The Blue Bells Chronicles

These dogs were likely very like today's Irish Wolfhound, the world's tallest breed, although not the biggest.  Often known in ancient days as simply the Irish Hound, the breed goes back to ancient times, being used as guard dogs, and for hunting.

It was as a result of my writing that I learned about Irish Wolfhounds and began looking for one, somewhat half-heartedly as they are generally expensive dogs, found only at breeders.  However, a family in Cincinnati needed to find a new home for their then-8-month-old wolfhound.  A friend and I left Minneapolis Tuesday evening, arrived in Cincinnati Wednesday morning, and made the long drive back, getting home at about 2 a.m. Thanksgiving morning!  Liadan has been a beloved part of our family since then.

One thing I didn't count on, was how much attention she attracts when I take her out for walks.  There was that first day we were at the park, and suddenly we were surrounded!  By children!  By parents!  People snapping pictures!  Asking questions.  I was so excited!  I thought I'd finally arrived as an author!  Then I realized it was Liadan they were all excited about.  Oh, well, sigh!  Maybe another day!

At almost 2-1/2 years old now, she still weighs in under 100 pounds--a bit on the small side for a female wolfhound.  But she's still one of the biggest dogs most people in my neighborhood have seen.

I try to get her out every day for a two to four-mile walk--or rather, our daily charge, for Liadan does not walk.  Given half a chance, she charges excitedly down the street!.  Luckily, my house backs up to a big park, and beyond that are miles of charging trails.  But I have come to find out that despite her enthusiasm and willingness to run, I will generally not make our walk as quickly as I would alone because she seems to have become an ambassador of sorts.

I have come to enjoy this greatly, partly because I'm meeting lots of people, and partly because these people invariably go away smiling!

A couple of weeks ago, I met a young couple, immigrants from Nigeria, with their two sons--a little boy of about 2 and a brand new baby.  They spent a lot of time asking questions about her.  The little boy spent a lot of time reaching up to pet her, less afraid of her towering over him than his mother!  His dad took lots of pictures of them together, and they left smiling.

Today, an old man was cycling down the street.  He looked at her and started laughing!  It was a laugh of joy and happiness.

People frequently lean out of car windows, while I'm waiting to cross the street, to make comments about my 'wolf,' or to ask questions.  Today, a woman called out from her car as I was about to cross the street.  We talked at some length, and she told me how she's trained dogs for over twenty years, and is looking for someone to take over the business, as she's ready to retire.  She's very interested in meeting my 14-year-old twins, who are not only crazy about dogs, but are little entrepreneurs who have started up a number of businesses selling all sorts of things at their schools.  We both went away happy!

Nearly home, we met a young guy at the intersection, who suddenly turned and saw her, and almost jumped!  Then he got a big smile and started asking questions.

Liadan is not the great hunter spoken of in ancient sources.  In fact, she has been known to hide behind our ten-pound cat, so I don't think she plans on tangling with any wolves.  Luckily, there are none in the park behind my house.  Like all of today's Irish Wolfhounds, she is a true gentle giant--the very sweetest dogs you'll ever meet, very loyal, loving, and affectionate.  

I like to think this is what the Laird's great hunting hounds were like when they weren't saving Niall from wild boar. 

Watch for future posts on Irish Wolfhounds

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  1. nice to write from a model, and in this case, such a cute one! although i guess the book came first. so this is life immitating art :)

  2. It definitely is life imitating art. Since starting, I've ended up with a medieval lute, and with access, at least, to a sackbut. Now I just need to work on importing some wolves and knights in mail for my dog to pull down off their warhorses! I'm sure I can talk the city council into these things!


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