Monday, July 30, 2012

Scottish Dogs

By Dawn Marie Hamilton

Within the historical fabric of Scotland is weaved a dependency between man and dog. Though much loved, Scottish dogs were not fancy lap dogs but working dogs bred to help a hardworking people survive the harsh northern climate.

The Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Dandie Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Skye Terrier and the West Highland White Terrier were developed to protect crops by eradicating mice, rats and other vermin, keeping the pests from destroying grain in the fields, grain stored for food, and seeds over-wintered for spring planting.

One of my two favorites in this category is the Scottish Terrier, nearly a national Scottish symbol. The Scottie, often black, but also brindle and wheaten colored, has a distinctive profile with a hard, wiry, weather-resident outer coat. Though small, they are strong, alert and playful dogs. Just don't let them into your garden—they're diggers. Did you know Presidents Roosevelt and George W. Bush had Scotties in the White House?

The compact, bright white West Highland Terrier is a friendly, strong-willed dog known for spunk, determination and devotion. Westies excel in conformation, agility and obedience trials. This frisky, little dog appeared in episodes of the BBC Scotland TV series Hamish MacBeth, filmed in the town of Kyleof Lochalsh. In the series, 'Wee Jock' kept the peace in the fictitious town of Lochdubh with Constable Hamish Macbeth at his side.

The Bearded Collie, Border Collie, Rough Collie, Smooth Collie, and my absolute favorite Scottish dog, the Shetland Sheepdog were bred to protect livestock. If you attend a Scottish Festival this summer, you might be treated to a Border Collie demonstration. Working dogs to this day, they are famous for their sheepherding skills.

My best friend for many years was a beautiful, longhaired, female tri-color Sheltie named Red Earth O'Tara for Gone With the Wind. Bred to a miniature size in the Shetland Islands, Shetland Sheep Dogs were farm helpers and home protectors, trained to watch over crofter's cottages, sheep and cattle. They are considered highly trainable and—mine was spoiled to the extreme—known as devoted dogs with great intelligence.

The Gordon Setter, Golden Retriever and Scottish Deerhound were developed to assist in hunting. The extremely popular Golden Retriever and the Gordon Setter were birders, trained to hunt fowl. Scottish deerhounds were exclusive to nobility and—no one below the rank of an earl could possess the animals—bred to hunt game. One of my CPs is writing a Scottish historical series featuring a pair of Scottish Deerhounds as supporting characters.

I think I'll write a Scottish dog into my next Scottish fantasy time-travel novel.

If you are interested in owning one of these special breeds, please consider adopting a dog from a breed rescue group. You can find a breed specific rescue group in your area by performing an internet search.

Which is your favorite Scottish dog?


Vonda Sinclair said...

Very interesting, Dawn! I love all Scottish dog breeds. I don't think I could choose a favorite.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

I know what you mean, Vonda. They are all so wonderful. Thanks for visiting today. :)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Waving, Dawn. I had no idea there were so many dogs related to the Scots. I assumed the adorable little Scottie was the dog of choice, but Golden Retriever, too? We had one for years and loved her gentleness. I do have the black and white dogs for shepherding in one of my stories. I suppose you can tell I have no clue about dogs, but do seem to have them wandering through my stories.

Great post.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

I know, Paisley, I was also surprised so many of my favorite dogs were Scottish bred. Thanks for dropping in. *hugs*