Many of my listeners have written in to ask why this website has a section on longdogs. What do longdogs, whatever they might be, have to do with my fiction? These are good questions, and as soon as I work out how people are listening to my blog, I promise that I will answer them.
For many years we had a lurcher. She was a large, tangled grey thing with bits of Bedlington, wolfhound and greyhound in here, and had been found abandoned in London. I had always had a sort of Romany romantic view of the poacher’s dog, the traveller’s helpmate, the tinker’s cur, and rather liked the idea of having a lurcher (usually a cross between a sighthound or running dog and a herding dog). And she was a loving, wonderful girl who devotedly protected our son from birth and never had a bad word to say about her family. Unfortunately, she was rather mad.
She constantly wet herself out of nerves, bit anyone who looked like a postie if she could, threw herself through a pane of glass to get at the window cleaner and went shriekingly insane whenever she saw a squirrel. She also tried to go for every cat she saw, although to be fair she did catch and dismember those foolish rats which dared to enter the back garden.
When she died at the age of sixteen, I was bereft. Something wonderful (and still mad) had gone from my life. And then, eighteen months later, we had the peculiar and unanticipated chance of taking on two adult lurchers from the other end of the country, pretty much sight unseen. My partner was somewhat dubious, considering the experiences above, but I was overjoyed. A lurcher in the house again!
And thus we found ourselves with two magnificent dogs, a heather-brindled male (see photo above for the type) and a wiry black female. This was the start of my real education in lurcher studies, because these two were, by all accounts, deerhound/greyhound first generation crosses.
This made them technically not lurchers, but true long dogs, which are crosses between two types of sighthound. For any Americans or Aussies reading, I believe that these are similar to your staghounds. They are large and incredibly fast animals, running at 30 to 40 plus miles an hour in focussed bursts, either when playing or when prey is sighted. Apparently longdogs trade off this speed by having less endurance than some lurchers.
Quite frankly, two longdogs trying to outdistance each other on an open moor is one of the most wonderful things I have ever seen, as they weave and dart, almost a blur. In long grass and reeds they disappear completely, only to rise hundreds of metres from where you last saw them, and on firm pasture, you can actually hear a loud drumming sound like cavalry as they come close.
And that’s what I do when I’m not writing, if I’m up to it. That’s my therapy, I suppose, and so more about longdogs will inevitably turn up in my posts, whether you like it or not.