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.)