Tuesday, April 3, 2012


On a private chat, a past breeder of purebred Scottish Deerhound dogs professed a "crisis of faith" (Q: "How do you justify the expense of time, money, and emotion?") for continuing in that mission and asked for rejoinders. Here's mine.

This comes from a non-breeder, reluctant past dog-showee and quasi-refugee from my own city's draconian anti-dog laws. However, with 35 years of sighthound ownership behind, I first have to echo our sad mantra of pet loss consolation from Irving Townshend's "The Once and Future Prince" that "...unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way."*

Secondly, I cast thoughts back to those before us who in the past have saved treasures for the future of all humanity, not just fine art but fine animals. For instance, such heroic efforts ensued during the World War II and aftermath to ensure that rare horse breeds survived their territories' wartime then political devastations such and Lippizans, Akhal Tekes or Trakehners. Think of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna's instant appeals to the conquering forces, U.S. General Patton, to save their horses from extinction, and its success.

Reading the online 400 year pedigree of the American Saddle Horse to research that side of my own equine's heritage, I marvel of these horses' lives saved from rapacious military confiscation during Colonial times then the Civil War. What sacrifices their owners must have made to continue their bloodlines: wealth alone could not have accomplished same in these riptides of history.

Then I think of the Deerhound breed, rare still in our modern times. People don't remember me there due to my inherent quiet manner, but I had attended rather a few specialties** before I had owned Deerhounds, and sufficiently long ago to have seen some the breed's best ever, both practitioners and dogs, in person in the latter half of the twentieth century. Anastasia Noble and Benachie's Bobkat come to the forefront of my mind.

Today, we don't see characters with the colorful swagger and influence of Ms. Noble nor the perfection of Bobbie, but I. DON'T. CARE. There won't be Deerhounds as future treasures to love personally or respect from afar unless someone still cares enough to think that maybe, just maybe, he or she can breed one even more beautiful than Bobbie, because he or she has the same indomitable resolve of a Ms. Noble (and hopefully a sensibilities of a Dr. Albert Schweitzer, to ramp up the health of our breed as well. It's badly needed.)

I think whoever you are, you may still be out there, however justly celebrated or anonymous at present. Overview shows that it comes out of nowhere, even. Really. The horse Figure founded the entire Morgan Horse line, a fabulous breed to this day. A single stallion, from literally out of nowhere, well over 300 years ago.

Perhaps you can do not only the Deerhound world, but the world in general that treasures all that is beautiful and useful more good than you ever can imagine with the right combination of strength, study and luck. Perhaps you can breed the one Deerhound that ensures their wondrous survival for the future, with your own genetic nick from out of nowhere...

Later named after his owner Justin Morgan, the stallion Figure, single progenitor of the Morgan Horse breed

*It's difficult to write about pets with intellect and lyricism while avoiding the cloying. This pet loss consolation succeeds.

The Fragile Circle

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives more temporary
than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.

Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully
understanding the necessary plan.

The life of a horse, often half our own, seems endless until one day. That day has come and gone for me, and I am once again within a somewhat smaller circle."

-Irving Townsend 'The Once Again Prince'

**Deerhound Confabs

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Well said, Heather. It's understandable to get discouraged with the dog show world--I know I do--but we cant get discouraged about the dogs themselves--we are all they have, and they are a romantic, historic breed which deserves stewardship and preservation. Mary ann

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