Celtic Canines and My Nordic Beasts

Vince & Hounds-3There are three Scottish Deerhounds, one Westie, and two cats in our household. Life is rarely dull and always filled with affection in our home.

aug3-5We got our first Deerhound, Somerled, from a breeder in Tennessee. I still remember the 14 hour drive with my young family – my son was two when we got Somer. My daughter was in fifth grade.

Originally, my husband and I were looking at Irish Wolfhounds. After months of research and speaking with breeders across the country, we settled on Deerhounds instead.

The choice was made on health and longevity alone. I have a tendency to love deeply, as does my husband, so longer life expectancy matters.

Smiling HoundsWe got to the breeder, who owned several fenced in acres, and saw through the six-foot high fence that the yard was empty. After helping my children out of the car, the yard was no longer empty. Lined up across the front were eight completely silent grey coated giants; regal and quietly assured that they were, as Sir Walter Scot put it, “the most perfect creatures under heaven.”

I looked at my husband and said, “What were we thinking?” completely oblivious to the fact that I’d subconsciously pulled my children close.

Well, we went in, greeted our pup, and I fell instantly in love. So did my entire family.

IMG_5070We adopted Somerled’s half-brother, Fingal, about two years later from the same breeder. We adopted Puck, Somerled and Fingal’s great-niece, about three years after that from a breeder in Ontario.

Somerled, my big boy, was over seven feet tall when he put his front paws on my shoulders. He could easily clear off the top of the refrigerator – he didn’t, he was too polite for that. Yes, cookies did go missing once or twice, but that was probably the fairies.

We lost Somerled and Fingal after long lives – far longer than their littermates. They continue to add joy to my life every morning when I smile at their photos on my wall and know how much I and the rest of my family were loved.

IMG_4940Puck, my sweet girl, is still with us, two years after the best emergency vet clinic in the state told us to say goodbye. What a gift, that.

I wanted a big boy again so we started our search for another Deerhound. The first took us four years. This time took eighteen months. After a series of quasi-comical events, we ended up going to Ontario for an eleven-week-old girl, Awen. We came home with Awen (I named her for the Druid word for “Inspiration”) along with one of her brothers, the runt of the litter, as well.28904837-mjs_highland-_nws-_sears-_1

Somerled was the runt of his litter. He grew far taller and more regal than any Deerhound from his breeder – far taller than the tallest Wolfhound I’ve ever seen. I chair the Celtic Canine tent at our local Highland Games, so I’ve seen plenty.

IMG_3764Awen’s brother, Merlin, is now gigantic. The two are now eleven-months-old and Merlin is as tall as Somerled was, and he’s still growing. Talk about a “What were we thinking” moment. Honestly speaking, there was no “we” in the two puppy deal – that was all me. After much chewing of family items, I am often reminded of this fact.

Deerhounds are exceptional creatures. Even with the chewing, we are blessed.

Gandalf is our West Highland White Terrier, more commonly called a “Westie”. He is my “Little General.” My daughter, son, and I drove to Ohio when we learned he was the last available pup – again the runt with astronomically big ears that no one wanted.

2016-06-25 13.50.59Somerled had passed and Fingal wasn’t feeling as spry as he once was, so within two hours of becoming aware that there was a Westie puppy available, we left for Ohio.

What a wonderful decision that was.

2015-04-30 17.25.46Gandalf is my first “small” dog. He’s grown into his ears and is now a big boy, topping out at the highest end of the breed standard. He still hasn’t grown into his personality.

He’s a clown and so loving that he makes everyone smile. He’s stubborn though – like most Scots.

Our cats are talkative. One sleeps near my feet and the other constantly head-butts me when I’m working at the computer. She’s also the one who holds my face and pets me with her front paws. Loki and Freya are the most loving cats I have ever known.

I’ve got an odd bunch of animals – some no one thought would amount to much more than misfits of their own breed. Awen and Puck are the exceptions, as both girls are gorgeous and would have shown beautifully had I any interest in showing.

I don’t.

Our interest is in having loving members of our own rag-tag family. In that, Puck, Loki, Freya, Gandalf, Awen and Merlin excel.

Here’s to animal lovers everywhere!

May our hearts be open and our lives enhanced through our mutual and elemental love of our pets.


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