Crafty Dog Cymru has passed our third consecutive Food Safety check by The City & County of Swansea’s Environmental Health section – with our third set of 5 Stars! These certify that our food manufacturing procedures and production premises meet the highest standard as Very Good.
(Back in August, we had an issue with Cook and a large quantity of Bristol Cream Sherry!)
Here at Crafty Dog Towers, Mrs Crafty Dog and I are a bit concerned about Cook; she has been rather more irascible than normal lately. She even growled at the kitchen cat (and we haven’t seen him since!). Today she has been making a trifle down in the kitchens here at the towers. We don’t venture in there very often – it’s certainly her domain and not ours! When I passed earlier this morning (very rapidly I’ll have you know!) I saw these piled up by the scullery door. Well. Either she’s abandoned her usual Beetroot gin for another tipple or it’s going to be one heck of a sherry trifle!
I hardly think that she will be cycling to her sisters on the penny farthing tonight!
For those of you still catching up on the Crafty Dog Garden’s blog, this was the first Facebook post on the Crafty Dog Gardens page back on 1st July
There’s something of a party atmosphere here at Crafty Dog Towers today; that Gardener’s Lad and his mentor the Head Gardener now have their own FB page! Well, you all know that because you are reading this(!). Higgins the Butler has asked Cook to bake a small cake by way of celebration but she wouldn’t have any of it. Thursday is steamed pudding and not sponge cake. Instead I have heard that the Head Gardener has a small bottle of his very best Beetroot Gin that they will all have a small nip of. Maybe Mrs Crafty Dog and I will be included in that.
BTW I think I have found where he is hiding his still.
Here at Crafty Dog Towers, in our own little kitchen, we make a range of amazing flavours, both sweet and savoury. We don’t ask others to make products for us – it’s all home-made, and mostly to our own recipes, or if not ours it’s from a traditional recipe with that Crafty Dog tweak.
Take our stunning Pear & Apple Chutney here; we ripen fresh pears and apples, then hand-peel, and cut them, and cook them with our blend of spices and vinegars to make a beautiful fruity chutney. All our preserves are cooked in a traditional maslin pan in small batches, usually of 24 jars but at a maximum of 34 jars. We take time and care to cook these fruits down to just the point when they are soft and juicy, or rich and tangy and ready for jarring up.
We even design our own labels, a different colour for each variety, which makes a fantastic display on the shelf. And we are still a 5 Star Food Safety Rating.
You can’t beat a Crafty Dog Jam, Chutney or Marmalade!
A short story for Easter – for children and those of us who have never fully grown up!
Finn the deerhound, Lord of the Glen, was scenting the air in the beautiful woodland that lay within a short walk of the walls of his wonderful garden. He was taking his morning constitutional which he liked to think was a regular thing, though the duties of a celebrity made it more of a weekly than a daily event these days. It was also nice to have escaped on his own for a change. Though he loved his household (the Maid and the Butler, Flower the lurcher, Rubbish the young greyhound-come-rabbit hound and of course Jeffery the marmalade cat) it was marvellous to be able to just clear his mind of his responsibilities (and Jeffrey’s ego!). He could smell something strange in the air. What was it? Animal? Maybe. Vegetable? Possibly. He walked in the direction of the scent, stopping occasionally to take another snort of air. Yes, it was this way.
The woods were a little thicker and the path was getting a touch more overgrown when he thought that he caught a flask of brown between the trees to his right. He stopped and looked again. Yes, there was definitely someone moving – someone nearly as tall as himself (and he was considered tall for a deerhound) and he could make out a short tail (what they called a scut) and big ears. Who could this be?
He moved as quietly as he could towards the figure. He could see them more clearly now. It was a very big rabbit, with long brown ears, a brown coat and long legs. Yes, indeed, it wasn’t a rabbit but a hare. Finn remembered the Winter Hare, Eira, who he had helped to escape from the clutches of human hunters and their dogs a few years back but this hare was much taller. They also carried a wicker basket and wore a bright green bow tie. Finn was much closer now and could hear the hare singing to themselves. Every now and again they would reach into the basket and take something out and tuck them into the grassy undergrowth, whispering something as they did so.
Finn took another step towards the hare and made the cardinal sin of stepping on a twig which snapped with a cloud crack! The hare froze and turned towards Finn. They looked terrified. Finn introduced himself, “Good morning. My name is Finn, please don’t be frightened,” he bowed politely. The hare relaxed and broke into a broad smile. “Ah yes, the Lord of the Glen!” It was a gentleman hare (Finn should have guessed by the bow tie). “I am Eric. I am the Easter Bunny.”
Finn bowed again.
“Well, I’m not THE Easter bunny. I’m a Trainee Assistant Easter Bunny.” He blushed a little. “If I earn my bunny points I can graduate to Assistant next year, then Easter Bunny Grade 3 the year after.”
“I never realised that there was such a well-developed career structure,” Finn replied. He really was surprised. Eric smiled and nodded, “Oh yes, from leveret to fully-fledged Easter Bunny Grade 1 is possible with skill and dexterity and great customer care. The only thing is, we mustn’t be seen by anyone.” At this both Finn and Eric frowned. “This could be a major setback.”
They stood quietly in a small clearing, both feeling a bit awkward for a minute, until Finn spoke again to break the embarrassed silence. “Are you, er, related to Eira, the Winter Hare?”
Eric nodded. “Yes, she’s my fourth cousin on my mother’s side. My Mam was an arctic hare.” Eric looked upset again. “She was ever so proud when she found out I was going to be a Trainee Assistant. She’s going to be really disappointed when she finds I’m going to be downgraded.”
Finn put his huge hairy paw over the hare’s shoulder to comfort him. He could see tears slowly sliding down Eric’s face to congregate on his whiskers where they formed pools that dripped off onto his huge feet. “I’ve got another three of these to distribute. Now I’ve been seen it’ll never happen.” The disconsolate hare tilted the wicker basket to show Finn a pile of eggs, all painted in fantastic colours, some with stripes, some with dots, some with stars and moons, and some with coloured bows that sparkled in the dappled morning sunshine.
As Finn hugged him gently, Eric produced a huge yellow and blue spotted handkerchief from an invisible pocket in his fur and proceeded to wipe his eyes then blow his nose loudly. This caused four families of local chaffinches to take off from surrounding trees, not too happy to have been woken at this still unearthly hour.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Finn asked. “I can deliver the eggs with you if that’s ok?”
Eric shook his head, “I don’t think that’s allowed. There are strict rules, you know.” From the same invisible pocket the hare produced a well-thumbed dog-eared book entitled, “Easter Bunny – Rules and Regulations. Edition 37. (Cost 3 shillings and 6 pence).”
“Rules are rules,” Eric’s smile sagged again.
“Let’s get these eggs delivered, and I’ll sort out the rules afterwards. I think I can call in a few favours,” the old deerhound chuckled. Finn sounded so positive that Eric raised his smile, and the Easter Bunny (Trainee Assistant) leaned behind a tree and lifted up another basket of coloured eggs which he gave to Finn.
Eric ran through the correct procedure for distribution of the eggs; for young and baby animals only (birds were excluded for some obscure reason involving unsubstantiated accusations of cannibalism), one per household/drey/den/sett. Don’t knock or make a fuss, just deposit the egg upright and slightly out of sight (there had to be some element of surprise for the recipient). Finn took the forest on the right of the path and Eric the forest on the left. The hare had two baskets to Finn’s one (Trainee Assistant though he was, he had received more training than Finn and, with two-handed delivery, was much faster).
For the next hour (though it only felt like ten minutes) Finn sped through his part of the woodland taking out eggs and putting them on the ground outside the homes of various animals. For the tree-dwellers he did his best to put the eggs on branches but this did cause some confusion when he left one outside what he thought was a squirrel’s drey but turned out to be a woodpecker. He had some difficulty explaining this to the furious woodpecker who had a serious sense of humour deficiency.
Finn was shattered by the time he met up with Eric again. Eric was so pleased that Finn had been able to assist, and that he had delivered his order of Easter eggs within time and before the rest of the animals had woken up (or the nocturnal ones gone home to bed). As he shook Finn’s hand he asked him, “Will I still get in trouble for being seen?”
Finn winked. “Don’t worry. Tell them that you were in Finn, the Lord of the Glen’s woods and that I offered to help. If they have any issues, let them speak to Eira, or failing that, Father Christmas will vouch for me.”
Eric bowed again to the Mighty Finn, Lord of the Glen, deerhound extraordinaire and all round good egg (no pun intended. Well, only slightly). With a wave the Trainee Assistant Easter Bunny was gone.
As he strolled home, Finn contemplated a number of things. Such as, why is he called the Easter Bunny when in fact he’s a Hare? He mused on this, and then changed the subject to his favourite one; breakfast. Was it going to be porridge today? With or without bacon and some chopped sausages? What about cooked tomato on the side?
When he got to the tall green door in the even taller red brick garden wall his stomach was rumbling. From the other side he heard an ancient moggie voice call out, “I heard that!” The door opened and Jeffrey was there to welcome him home and accompany him as he sauntered down the garden path to the patio.
“Been anywhere interesting, old chap?” asked the impeccably well spoken old moggie.
“Oh, just strolling in the woods.” Finn replied.
A face peered around the kitchen door. “Breakfast is ready!” the Maid called. On the patio on their dog beds lay Flower the butterscotch-coloured lurcher and Rubbish the brindle greyhound who both smiled and wagged their tails as they saw Finn approaching. “Morning!” they called, in unison.
Jeffrey laughed, “They do practically everything together these days!” he said to Finn under his breath. Finn grinned.
The Butler brought out three dog bowls and two large dinner plates. In the bowls were porridge, and on one plate a mix of sardines and cat biscuits, and the other plate chopped sausages and chopped crispy bacon. He set out the bowls and plate, then asked the gathered dogs (and cat), “And how would you like your breakfast?”
They all looked to Finn. “The works, as usual,” came the reply. The sausages and bacon were added to all the bowls (including Jeffrey’s).
“Bon appétit!” the Butler said as he left them to it.
“Quite so!” replied Jeffrey.
They all tucked in.
As the meal was coming to an end (Jeffrey had finished first, despite having very few teeth) the Maid came out with a box. “Finn,” she said. The old dog looked up. “This is for you. It was left on the front doorstep.”
She put the box on the low table at which the animals ate their food. It had a beautiful yellow ribbon around it, and a tag on which was written, “To Finn, Assistant to the Trainee Assistant Easter Bunny, with thanks. E.” When the Maid opened it, inside were four beautifully coloured and wrapped eggs. Each animal had one, and when they cracked them open each one was the very favourite treat they loved; for Flower, it was pasty flavour, for Rubbish sausage flavour, for Jeffrey, tuna and cheese, and for Finn, venison and gravy. Amazing!
Finn stopped munching to announce to everyone, “Happy Easter!”
Chris Dignam, 04/04/21
Copyright Chris Dignam/Crafty Dog Books
To be reproduced by permission only
During this dark period I am trying to post some short pieces to amuse, inform or generally give people a distraction – read and enjoy!
The following short story explains how the Mighty Finn, hero of the “Largest Rabbit” books came to the farmhouse and his “magic” garden, and came to be Lord of the Glen. Finn is based on a real hound, who had a real Maid and Butler, and this isn’t too far from his real story. Please post a comment, like or review on this or the Crafty Dog Books page, especially if you would like another short piece.
The smell of cooking bacon drifted through the kitchen doorway, across the patio and on down the long garden, towards the green door in the wall that led to the woods. As it floated past it was intercepted by the nostrils of two hungry hounds and an even hungrier ancient marmalade cat. Lying on the chaise longue were a young brindle greyhound and a fawn lurcher, cuddled up together. Across from them, Jeffrey, the said ancient cat, lay back, warming his striped (in places) tummy in the sun. They were all dreaming about bacon sandwiches, or at least that’s what Rubbish the greyhound and Jeffrey were thinking about. Flower the lurcher, whose coat was almost as golden as the paving slabs the chairs stood on, was pondering on other things. “Jeffrey?” she asked.
The old cat’s left eye creaked open, “Yes, my dear?”
“What’s Mr Finn’s story?”
Jeffrey sat upright, “Finn’s story?”
“Yes. Was he born here in the house, and has he always been the Lord of the Glen?”
Finn the noble deerhound, Lord of the Glen, Master of the Hills and Forests, was the hound who looked after everyone in this, his “magic” garden. He lived here in the old farmhouse with Cath and Sam, whom he called The Maid and The Butler, and they in turn felt that this actually was their role, looking after this wonderful hound. Tall, regal, with a quick mind and a sparkle in his eye, gentle but with a power and authority that meant that all the animals, and many of the humans around the area, saw him as the Lord of the Glen. Animals in trouble came to him, and the occasional human, and he ensured that things were carried out fairly and any trouble was soon sorted. It was he who had helped Rubbish, the abandoned greyhound pup, brought up by rabbits, to find his true identity. (The pup had called himself Rubbish as that’s what the humans had said he was.) It was Finn that had helped Rubbish and Jeffrey thwart the plans of a fox to capture Rubbish’s rabbit family, and who’d declared Rubbish to be a Rabbit hound who would protect the rabbits like a sheepdog protects his sheep. Finn, Rubbish and Jeffrey had helped to save Eira, the Winter Hare, from hunters who were after her skin (literally) and rescued the quiet and gentle Flower from their clutches. There were many other adventures, involving ghost hounds, witches and even Father Christmas (that particular adventure had resulted in them being given the gift of understanding, and being understood by, humans. Rubbish had found that most useful, as now he could order his meals from the Maid and she could understand what his exact requirements were)!
“Ah. Finn wasn’t always the Lord of the Glen.” Jeffrey pulled himself upright and looked across at the dogs. Flower’s ears pricked up and the young greyhound’s did too, as they listened to what the old cat had to say. “As you know, I am quite old now. I was here before Finn, and I can remember his coming here.
Cath and Sam were talking in the kitchen and I was sitting up on the window sill,” he pointed to the long sandstone sill below the window next to the yellow back door. “Cath was very upset. A group of travellers were camping in the fields outside the village. This was not unusual, as the villagers round here get on well with the travelling folk who often stay on the old fair field during the winter.”
“Why was she upset?” asked Rubbish.
“I was just coming to that,” the old cat added. “Now, this group were not the usual families and were more than a little troublesome. The villagers tried to ‘cut them some slack’ as they say, but they went too far. Some houses were broken into, cars and vehicles damaged but worst of all, livestock were taken. All in all, they created a lot of very bad feeling. One of the travelling families was seen hunting rabbits [Rubbish was shocked by this, as they could have been his own rabbit-family]. Cath was in the village when there had been a confrontation between the local policeman and the men of this family. They had a number of dogs, of various types but mostly greyhound crosses, or as they call them, Lurchers, (no offence young Flower), and amongst them were a few deerhounds. It was said that they had used them to hunt the deer that roam in the woodland around the village. Anyway, after this confrontation the travellers started to pack up, and during the evening they all left. When the sun came up the next morning, they were gone. They had left a fair bit of mess behind, and Cath and Sam had gone to help the villagers with the clear up. Behind the camp they found tied to a post, next to a bramble hedge, a very thin and scabby deerhound pup. He was in a very sorry state, and the local animal rescue people had come to see him. They didn’t think anyone would give him a home but Cath and Sam had begged to let them take this pup in.
Driving back in the car he was given the name of Finn, after the giant from Irish and Scottish legends. They knew that with love and care this little pup would grow up to be as large as any giant.
I can see that scrawny little pup now – his coat was dirty and matted, and they had to clip all his fur off. He wasn’t house-trained, and even though he was now bald he still had fleas! I’ll be honest, I never thought that pup would ever amount to much!
Still, as he grew – and by heck, he didn’t half grow fast – he began to show his personality. He was very quick to learn the rules of the house, and even more he came to listen to me and some of the older animals, and he began to understand the rules of the animals too.”
“So then he was Lord of the Glen?” asked Rubbish.
“Bless my soul, not at that stage. That came later!” Jeffrey chuckled. “Within a couple of years he had grown very large and powerful – no other animal would stand against him. He began to get a little big-headed, as the humans say, and throw his weight around. He even growled at Sam once or twice. Finn could have become difficult to handle.
That winter when Finn must have been 3 years old, he had a terrible illness. dog flu, I think they called it. Cath and Sam watched over him day and night, taking it in turns to keep him clean, give him medicine, and food, and watch his temperature. Even the animals from the woods would come to the garden gate each day to see how he was, and I would keep them updated. Finn nearly died, but he came through it.
Over the next few months he gradually got stronger. He would sit on this settee on the patio, one that Sam had brought out from the house for him to use, where he could feel the warmth of the sun and recover. Cath would look out the window and there was always some animal or other from the fields or woods sitting with Finn, talking to him and he to them. I would be there to ensure they didn’t tire him, and to give him the benefit of my vast knowledge too [at this the dogs looked at each other and Rubbish smiled]. By the time he had recovered fully he and I had become firm friends.
Not long after he was better, we had a message from one of the forest animals. The two badger families were in dispute over an ancient badger sett. Both claimed it as theirs, and they were on the verge of war between them. Now you’ve seen how formidable the Bills can be when roused. It was Brian’s family that called Finn for him to intervene. Finn stood right between the two armies and put both of the family chiefs in their place, there and then. Anyone else would have been terrified to have been there, standing between the two battling families, but Finn was calm and collected. I can see him now, tall, and oozing confidence and, yes, nobility. Both families were satisfied with his decision and that he had been fair. It was Brian the Badger Chieftain that had first called him “Lord”, and that has stuck. Since then, if there has been any quarrel, or if animals have needed help, it’s to Finn that they’ve come.”
“So…that’s why he helped me. Because I was an abandoned puppy too?” the greyhound suggested.
Jeffrey nodded, “He would have done so anyway, but he has said to me many times that he felt especially for you, as he had once been that very pup.”
Rubbish didn’t know what to say. He felt very proud of his friend and mentor, the mighty Finn, and he felt so very sad that he too had had that awful upbringing.
Flower also wiped a tear from her eye. She could see how the story had affected her dear Rubbish, and she too knew what it was to have been abandoned and rescued.
“Good afternoon all!” a deep deerhound voice called from the kitchen doorway. “I have been told by the Maid that bacon sandwiches are ready.”
The three animals on the patio turned towards the old deerhound and cheered. Finn thought it had been because of the bacon but that wasn’t the real reason that they’d cheered. Hail to the Lord of the Glen!
(Story & characters copyright Chris Dignam/Crafty Dog Cymru. Finn the Deerhound is courtesy of Kate & Sean Standing. Feel free to share but please credit the author & K&S Standing.)
A short story to raise a smile in these perilous times.
The Mighty Finn, Lord of the Glen and deerhound of great repute, was sitting on his chaise longue on the patio in the late morning sun – wishy-washy though the sunshine was. He’d been listening to the experts on the radio talking about the virus, which was making him tut-tut and shake his huge and hairy head. “Grim days indeed,” the old dog said to himself.
“Mr Finn!” a young voice called. He turned to see the brindle greyhound called Rubbish running up the garden towards him. “Have you heard? There’s something wrong with the tinned food!”
Finn looked puzzled. “Tinned food?”
“Yes. It’s making people ill – the corned beef’s got a virus!”
In spite of everything, this did make the old hound smile. “My dear Rubbish, you mean the Corona Virus!”
“Yeah. That’s what I said. It’s in the tinned food!” Rubbish insisted. “And it’s making people go to the loo so much their toilet paper is running out!”
At this point Finn laughed out loud. “My boy, I’ve been listening to the radio, reading the papers too and speaking to Cath and Sam about it.”
“Ooh, I feel ill…” Rubbish said, sitting on his haunches.
Finn sighed. “Firstly, it’s not in the food and definitely not the corned beef! Secondly, young Rubbish, we non-humans can’t catch it. It’s just a thing for people.”
“Oh no – are Cath and Sam ok?” Rubbish looked worried.
“We live in the country so can self-isolate – which means not come face to face with other humans until things calm down,” Finn explained.
“What Ho!” a plummy voice called from the doorway which opened into the garden next door. A very round and scruffy marmalade cat sauntered along the red-brick path towards them.
“Any news?” asked Finn.
Jeffrey, that ancient cat, sighed, “Yes, fortunately The Colonel is safe in his hotel and apparently showing no symptoms.” His owner, The Colonel, was quite elderly and had been on a hiking holiday in Italy when the virus had arrived. Jeffrey’d been worried, but he seemed much calmer now that he’d spoken to the Colonel and he was safe and well. “He’ll be home as soon as all this calms down. It may be a few weeks or even some months.”
“But he’s safe,” Finn replied.
“Thank Dog I have you fellows to look after me!” smiled the old cat. Rubbish could feel the sting of muscle-rub and arthritis gel wafting from the moggie, making his eyes water. Worse than that was the prevailing aroma of anchovies!
“So how’s everyone here? Are the Maid and the Butler coping?” the cat asked.
Finn nodded. “They are fine. I’ve never seen people wash their paws – I mean hands – as much in their lives. I know they’re getting on a bit but I am sure they will be ok.” (From the kitchen a female voice announced, “I heard that!).
“Wonderful! What’s for luncheon?” the cat asked. He was also known as The Professor for his vast knowledge (or at least, he had an opinion on any subject under the sun and moon). He was also well known for his appetite, which usually involved soft foods (as he had so few teeth nowadays due to his advanced age), largely fish. And cake – he particularly fond of Victoria sponge, with raspberry jam.
Cath called out of the kitchen door, “Roast chicken with vegetables and in your case, pilchards!”
Finn raised a hairy eyebrow, “You can always rely on the Maid!”
“So is everyone going to be really ill?” asked Rubbish.
Both the old moggie and the deerhound shook their heads. “Apparently it isn’t as bad as first thought; it just bounces off most little humans, and those who are fit and well. They might have a cough and sneezes and a slight temperature,” Finn told him.
“Ah, like the awful Man flu that Sam had last year,” Rubbish suggested. There was a very loud laugh from the Maid in the kitchen.
“Well, sort of,” Jeffrey chuckled. “But if you’re already ill, with a bad heart, or weak chest, then it is more serious.”
“Oh.” The greyhound thought for a second. “So where has all the toilet paper gone then?”
Finn turned to Jeffrey, “Professor?” he asked.
At this point Jeffrey put his hand into his furry chest, to that invisible pocket where he kept useful items. He rummaged round (a sight to behold!) and out came a fountain pen, a small jar of liniment and, finally, a pair of spectacles which he balanced precariously on his nose. They didn’t help him see, but he felt that they made him look studious, and was a sign that he was doing some serious deep thinking. “Now that is a great mystery!”
“Manky corned beef,” muttered Rubbish, still convinced that tinned meat had something to do with it.
“I think it has more to do with people acting in a very strange way due to stress and buying lots and lots of things they think might be essential,” Finn told him.
“Like flour,” the Maid shouted from the house.
“Indeed,” Finn chuckled, “Because everyone out there does so much baking these days!”
“I blame Mary Berry,” mumbled Jeffrey. “And that Hollywood chap.”
“Humans are such strange things,” the deerhound said, leaning over the back of the couch to look into the kitchen (to check on the progress of the roast chicken which by now they could smell cooking).
“I hear that the villages around here are deserted,” Jeffrey told the others.
“Have they all been beamed up into space ships by little grey aliens?” asked Rubbish, aghast (he had a thing for science fiction programmes on TV).
Finn laughed again, “No you daft puppy! Everyone has been told to stay inside their houses unless they have to go and buy food or medicine.”
“Or 30 rolls of toilet paper and 20 bags of frozen chips,” chuckled Jeffrey.
“How long for? Will everyone just stay inside forever?” the young greyhound was wide-eyed.
Finn shook his head, “Fortunately no. It’s expected that it will get worse for a month or so then gradually go back to normal.”
Jeffrey said, “I reckon 6 months or thereabouts and we’ll all wonder what the fuss was about.”
“Yes,” Finn stared down the garden to the old door in the red brick wall that led into the meadow and on to the woods where the rabbits lived. “We’ll just keep our heads down, eat chicken (and pilchards of course) and wait it out here in our garden.”
Rubbish smiled and lay on the warm patio, “Yes. There are a lot worse places to be.”
(All characters copyright Chris Dignam & Crafty Dog Cymru. Any resemblance by the Maid and the Butler to real characters who live in Letterkenny, Donegal is purely on purpose).
If you liked this, don’t forget that all the children’s books are available as digital download or paperback via the Crafty Dog Cymru Shop.
How I Far I Have Travelled
I enjoy writing, and have done as long as I can remember. I have written academic articles and numerous (boring) reports and even Emergency Plans and training exercises (the latter helped hone my skills creating fictional plots and characters!). After many requests and much nagging I wrote A Hound in the House in 2013 which was about Sally, our first greyhound, and Sammy and the others that followed. Even now I still find parts of that book touch me deeply, as I think about the times we shared together.
In 2014 I published The Largest Rabbit, my first children’s book, and we even took it to schools (along with Penny) to read extracts. It’s such a pleasure to see children’s faces light up as they listen, laughing at the stories, or gasping at the description of the villainous fox. I love that I was able to bring the character of Finn the Deerhound into the books, a dear soul who was a real hound who lived with friends of ours in Donegal.
Whilst working on the sequel, I started writing short stories with those same characters, Hallowe’en and Christmas tales of tails, just something that I hoped would interest and amuse my readers until the next full book came out. The Winter Hare, when it emerged, was a slightly darker tale of hairy heroes and Celtic magic, once again with wicked villains. (I think that this one has proved to be our best-seller.)
When I began writing Found a Penny, the story of life with our Penny, the first draft just read like A Hound in the House 2. I scrapped it after a year or more’s work and went back to the drawing – or writing – board. I started again, but turned it into Penny’s story from her point of view, in her words, through her eyes. I think its worked, as I have seen and heard some wonderful reviews from readers.
I had a lovely review this week from a pupil at a local primary school who read and enjoyed The Largest Rabbit. They suggested that with this book I would make millions. Well, not so far. But to make one person happy by reading one of my books and stories is good enough for me.
Just don’t tell our accountant that.
September 21st is Penny Day – the day her book is launched at the Greyhound Rescue Wales Shop in Swansea. “Found a Penny; The Memoirs of a Crafty Dog” will be released, and you can meet Chris Dignam, and Penny the star of the title. A real ex-racing greyhound who made the journey from race-track to sofa via a farmers field in mid Wales. Chris will talk about how the book came about, sign copies, and you can give The Crafty Dog herself a cuddle.
For further details contact Chris at; Info@crafty-dog-cymru.co.uk
21st September 2019 saw the launch of Chris Dignam’s latest book. This time it’s the true story of Penny, greyhound and Crafty Dog of the title, in her very own words. She has worked with Chris to dictate her life-story, from being born in Ireland, to her successful racing career in England, then the sudden change in her fortunes; abandoned in a field in Mid-Wales and left to fate. Fortunately, Mr Jones and his collie found this starving, cold ex-athlete and handed her over to Greyhound Rescue Wales.
This is where Penny’s life really began as she found a home with Chris and his wife Armelle. She found this all very strange, what with stairs, beds, and, best of all, smoked salmon! A hound with a gourmet’s palate, she takes part in an incredible fund-raising event for the rescue charity, travels across Europe in the motorhome to aid international relations (even attending the service at the Menin Gate), and helps publicise the plight of ex-racers. She talks of her mental demons, as even her life has its dark side, but hers is a positive story.
Penny also describes how she helps out at Chris and Armelle’s Craft business, and becomes known as The Crafty Dog. It’s a lovely journey, with its ups and downs but you will emerge at the end with a big smile on your face.
The books are available by clicking here.