Another Dog Story (Too long too)

I once read a story about an Irish Wolfhound.

These are the largest of all dog breeds, and the reason there are no wolves left in Ireland.

There was a Prince, and he had a wolfhound that he loved. The dog was named Gledden.

Every morning the Prince would go hunting with the dog.

The Prince felt bad when his wife gave birth and he didn’t hunt with Gledden for a whole week tending to his wife and daughter. Gledden didn’t seem to mind though.

Finally, the Prince felt that his duties would allow him a morning off, and he took off, eager for the hunt. He was a bit miffed that Gledden seemd nowhere about. He hunted by himself, and after a fruitless morning, returned to his castle.

Upstairs though, he had cause for alarm. The nursery was disheveled. The bassinet was empty, and there was blood everywhere. Fearing the worst, the Prince called loudly for aid.

Hearing the cry Gledden came bounding to his master from the adjoining room. His mouth and chest were covered with blood, as he leaped onto his master with greeting.

Putting two and two together the Prince concluded his prized dog, had become jealous of his son, and killed him to secure his affections. In a murderous rage, he plunges his sword into Gledden’s chest.

Gledden’s death howl wakes up the Prince’s son, and the the Prince hears his son’s wail from the adjoining room Gledden had just appeared from.

In that room the Prince finds his son, unhurt, and still wrapped in his swaddling clothes. His son lies next to the corpse of the giant wolf that had pulled him from his bassinet. It was that wolf’s blood that covered Gledden.

The Prince buried Gledden on top of the highest hill, and changed the town’s name to Gleddenfeld, meaning “Gledden’s Bed.” That is what it is called today.

It is said the Prince never smiled again.

I was intrigued by that legend, and I read up on the dog’s. When we bought this property, I wanted a large and fierce appearing dog.

Everything I’d read about Wolfhounds said they were gentle giants, and I spent $750 for a pup from a breeder. I figured such a large and loyal dog would be excellent around the farm. My wife would be spending a lot of time here alone while I worked, and the presence of such an animal might be a strong persuader to anybody who thought of messing with her.

The pup grew awkwardly. His front legs would grow, but the rest of him would stay the same for a few weeks, and he’d look funny. Then his ears would get left behind, and he’d look funny.

When fully grown, Corwin was 130 pounds. He’d jump up and greet me, and when he did so, he’d place both paws on my shoulder and look down at me.

When we wrestled he did something I’ve known another dog to do. He’d give you a foot sweep. He’d walk up and club you in the lower leg with his big baseball bat of a paw and knock you down. Then he’d slobber you to death.

Sometimes he did look fierce, but then he would move and spoil the illusion. The fact of the matter was that he was obviously a big goof.

He’d run full speed through a field, and suddenly trip. He’d go cartwheeling and sliding fifty yards before coming to a stop, and there’d be a big trail of dust marking his crash. It was like watching a bus wreck.

Little kids loved him, and would actually ride him. He was polite, always friendly, and a good companion. He’d go wherever you went, and love it.

He was a terror inside the house though. He had that hound smell, and he’d render furniture unfit for human use just by being near it. If he sat on the couch, it’d be all dented and covered with coarse white hairs. There’d be a huge trail of drool soaking the side of it and puddled on the floor.

He’d wag his tail and it was like slinging a baseball bat. Chairs would get knocked over and lamps thrown from tables.

My wife and I worked a deal to preserve the marriage. I built him a home in the barn to sleep in. He could spend evenings in the house, but in the Great room only, so that the damage could be contained.

Corwin, being rather agreeable towards anything, was fine with this.

The other problem was I got no respect. People around here are serious about there dogs, and nobody took big goofy Corwin very seriously. People have Rotweillers, Shepherds, Jack Russells, Retrievers, but I had the only Wolfhound, and there weren’t any wolves.

Then, one day, at my nieghbors house, Corwin and my neighbor’s Rottweiler hooch were messing around. They were in the back of my neighbor’s pickup truck. I called Corwin to go, and he jumped out of the truck.

He didn’t quite make it.

Corwin’s balls landed on the trailer hitch.

Hoooooooooowwwwwwoooooooooooo!!! he cried, curled up pitifully.

It cost me two hundred dollars to get his balls treated.

What little respect I had received from my neighbors for Corwin was due to his considerable size. Now he was the laughingstock.

People would ask me how my dog’s balls were as a form of greeting, their deadpan delivery giving way to a sly grin.

In spite of his clumsy good-natured klutziness and the ridicule it got me, I loved that dog. When he sighed contededly, it was a titanic emotion. You could lay down on the floor with your head on his chest and hear his mighty heart pulse. When he played with little kids or smaller dogs you beheld an infinite and epic goodwill and kindness, and a careful gentleness.

Later we got another dog, and it was the height of comedy to watch the little puppy “pin” Corwin to the ground.

He had a great soul, and I came to think of him as “Great-Souled Corwin,” and admire his humanity (for lack of a better word.)

But, I thought of him as a lovable, but ultimately inept goof. A comic figure.

Corwin though, showed me differently, and we shared a defining moment.

I was walking around the property. Corwin was off galumphing about somewhere ahead.

There’s a wild dog problem in this area. People buy a dog, decide they don’t like it and set it free in the gamelands a mile away. Every late fall these dogs get hungry, lean, and mean, and they cause trouble with livestock and scare people. I’ve had five or six encounters in my time here, and I now do what my neighbors do when they encounter one. They shoot it.

This was my first fall though, and my first encounter. I was unarmed, and merely out for a walk.

It was a Doberman, and it had been shot in the side of the head at some point. It had a big infected wound, and it was pissed off and seemed inclined to take it out on me. I knew better than to run, but this dog had me scared. It would charge forward silently a few paces, stop and back up. It wasn’t barking, just growling quietly, and it felt like it was testing me out prior to a serious attack.

I was trying to make my way to a tree when Corwin showed up.

He came bounding over, toungue hanging out of his mouth, tripping over his own feet, and stopped dead when he and the Doberman simultaneously spied each other.

And then the dog I knew was gone. For the first and only time in my knowledge, Corwin became all business.

His goofy ears flattened against his shovel of a skull. His great long neck angled low to the ground, leaving his huge head parallel and a few inches above the dirt. The tounge withdrew into the mouth whose lips curled, revealing teeth and jaws more befitting a T-rex than a dog. The front legs and paws splayed widely and his huge shoulder muscles bunched. His tail whipped slowly from side to side like an angry and venomous snake.

The Doberman growled dangerously.

Corwin did not growl. I swear it. I know a growl. A growl is a threat. This was not a threat. It wasn’t even a promise. This was a fact that issued from his throat. It was the eager fact of death both imminent and inevitable. It was the sound of murder.

I had never heard a sound like that before, and it’s difficult to describe. It’s a sound like an IRS audit, or the last tortured cry of the turbine engine on a jumbo jet before the plane crashes. It’s the sound of a bill due and payable when you’re already overdrawn.

It literally gave me goose bumps and loose bowels as I stood there. I knew if he had ever made that sound to a human being he would have had to have been destroyed.

Suddenly I understood his epic good nature and carefull clumsiness. Equipped as he was, a perfect machine for murder, Corwin could not afford to pose or play it tough. Any overture in that direction would have been overkill.
Later I figured out that he shared something in common with every legitimate badass I’d ever known. He didn’t give a shit about his image. He knew he was deadly, and saw no reason to adertise the fact.

The other dog saw it too, and tried to back off without turning tail. It didn’t work. Corwin slid in low and fast.
His front paw shot out and swept the front legs of the Doberman, knocking it off balance. Then the Corwin’s huge jaws were around the throat of the Doberman. His neck came off the ground, taking the Doberman with it. The muscles clenched and you could here bones snapping like crunching Broccoli.

All the while the same low yet insistent sound of murder continued.

It ended quickly, but Corwin held on for a long minute, unmoving.

Then he dropped the dog, and turned to me.

The ears popped up in their airheaded way, and he bounded comically over to me

“Duhhhhh, how ya doin?” his look said.

Wolfhounds don’t live long. 10 Years is a rarity. They are too big. Bloat gets them a lot, as does cancer, but most die of a heart attack.

Corwin made it to three years old. One night he seemed tired. He’d jogged with me that day, so that wasn’t unusual. He was mighty but he never had especially good endurance. The next morning he was dead.

I buried him, and planted a Maple. My brother, never a sentimentalist, loved that dog, and drove 4 hours to say goodbye.

I’ll never get another. The heartbreak was too much, and three years is far too short a time to spend in the company of such a magnificent animal.

That dog taught me a lot about manhood. I had just gotten married when I got him. Just bought this farm. I was pretty caught up in my image and felt very self-important at my relative success in business. I was proud, and thought dignity was something you wore like a piece of fine clothing. I thought it was a thing like a museum piece.

I’d like to think I know better now. I’d like to think that manhood and dignity are a compassionate fool who moves like a living Chevy Chase pratfall, that the greatest and stongest of us all, hide as clowns.

And, I hope that I learned enough from that dog that my daughter knows him, though they have never met. I hope that I’m man enough to reflect enough of that animal onto my daughter.

The Power of a Dog, eh? :slight_smile: Have had too many dogs, and pulled out that poem, too many times to count…

Grampa’s current dog is 6th or 8th or 12th in a long series of blue heelers. I’ve heard them called Queensland heelers or sheep dogs or blues and Australian heelers or sheep dogs - not sure what their actual name is. They are god-awful-ugly animals; muddy-colored coats with a mix of black and brown and grey, which gives the ‘blue’ appearance. Short, stocky bodies with short legs - low to the ground. When they chase livestock, as they are bred to do, they nip at the animals’ heels, then duck. Hence their name.

Out here in Midwestern farm country, roads are straight and long and tend to follow the property lines that are set up along sections of half-sections or quarter-sections. The road in front of our place, however, runs mostly SW to NE, so it’s nearly 1/2 mile from the barn yard to the next gravel road over to the west, and the back of our main pasture borders on that road.

Dairy cows are kept close to home in the winter; udders don’t do well in sub-freezing temperatures and when cows are let out in winter it’s for only an hour or two. In spring, when the weather gets warm enough, our cows go out to pasture, but it takes a few days for them to get used to coming back to the barn on their own.

That’s where Max came in.

Max was kind of atypical. He had the characteristic flecked coat, but was nearly all white. More like a English springer spaniel than a heeler. When it came to moving cows, though…Damn.

So the cows would be let out in early spring and head for the back of the pasture. Around 4 o’ clock I would stand in the yard with Max at my side, point west (couldn’t even SEE the cows), and say, in a normal speaking tone of voice, “Get 'em.”

And off he’d go. 10 or 15 minutes later the cows would show up in the yard.

He died, of old age, while I was away from here. As did my childhood pet Rex, a loveable old mutt, who died (we think of a heart attack) in the ditch. With a big ol’ hunk of deer leg (they’d been cleaning deer that day) in is mouth and a smile on his face :slight_smile:

The current heeler incarnation is still a puppy - only a year old - named Spud. Spud doesn’t even come up to my knee - I don’t think he’s more than 14 inches high, and just a little longer. Not much of a cattle dog yet, but he’s learning. One thing he CAN do, however, is take out woodchucks - seven of them he’s left in the front part of the barn so far this summer.

Maybe, Scylla, if you had a heeler instead of your current dogs…


Tribute to a Dog
By: Senator George Vest

Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

Weirddave sheds a tear for his lost dogs, and slinks off to bed

Fuckin A, Scylla, you know how to write!


Scylla, one thing you should know, it has to be damned moving to get me to even think about crying.

[sub]Where are the tissues?[/sub]
I think your Corwin should have met my dad’s Boxer (by name and breed). I think they shared a world view.

A fine tribute to an animal who was short changed in his stay on this mortal coil. I’m glad that he kept you in one piece so we could hear about him, Scylla. It sounds like he put paid to all of his expenses in one brief moment with that Dobie.

I’ll hoist one in his memory next weekend when I get back into my bottle of Suntory Kakubin Black Label whiskey.

Wow. Thank you Scylla. That was an amazing story. It captured the feeling that I had to one of our childhood dogs, the only one I ever bonded with. A great big goofy black lab. Kindest soul out there, except he loved to eat bread, so we could never leave a loaf out on the counter. Great, I am misting up again after reading your story and remembering Laird.


Beautiful story, beautifully written. Thank you for sharing Corwin with us.

Damn you, Scylla!

You are truly gifted. I knew it was coming, but I was powerless to stop.
Thank you, Scylla!!!

As always Scylla, as always. :slight_smile:

This is the second mention I’ve seen of Corwin; the first being his unfortunate experience in Scylla’s Goat Porn thread.

It’s times like this when I wonder when I’ll no longer live in an apartment, and can experience what it’s like to live with a dog.

Ever read something and say to yourself, “This is wasted here?” Boy, that has some potential for publication.

The legend Scylla quoted above stirred a couple childhood memories, so herewith a couple of links.

Beth Gelert, by the Hon. Wm. R. Spencer

Wow. Just…wow. Scylla, that is the closest I’ve come to crying over anything on these boards in a long, long time.

I’m going to go give my dog a hug.

Here’s one to a fine friend!

::slams a shot of Suntory Kakubin Black Label with an Asahi “Karakuchi” chaser::

PS: I promise that when I get home from Taiwan next week I’ll give my wolf hybrid an even bigger hug, just because!

I’d seen and heard about this thread for a few days now…wow. Amazing and touching, Scylla. As always, thank you for sharing that.

Gawddammit, I have tears running down my face.

Since Oslo already revived this long dead thread I’ll throw in a comment before it gets locked.

I was expecting to laugh when I saw a thread by Scylla, instead I cried my eyes out. Both stories in the OP were touching and tragic. Three years is too young to go even for a giant breed dog, I guess his heart was just too big in more ways than one. What a great tribute.

Animals will do that to you, here is the opening to Lord Byron’s memorial to his Newfounland

Full version here and worth the read. ps pedantic I know but it was a Welsh legend