Longdogs

 

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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.

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16 thoughts on “Longdogs”

  1. I have so enjoyed reading your blogs about lurcher ownership. Haven’t laughed so much for ages. It’s all so true. Inhale owned four Lurchers. All naughty as hell and all wonderful members of the family. My latest one, Lucky, we found a year ago onnthenroad. He now legally ours. Beautiful and bright he is an opportunist and endless puppy. We love him to bits. Have you written a funny lurcher book. You should, it would sell millions. Please email me any further blogs. Can’t wait.

  2. Love this, John! I find immeasurable joy in watching my dog run and play. She has a joi de vivre that shouts to the world her unique understanding of what everything is REALLY about, with a motto and creed of “wind-in-fur.” It’s the most therapeutic experience I’ve ever had. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, and excellent job with your site!

  3. I love your lurcher tales. We adopted our first lurcher 12 years ago, added a greyhound 9 years ago and another lurcher a year ago, despite my partner saying we couldn’t cope with 3 maniacs in the house. We have had so much fun and laughter with our hounds, I can agree with everything you say about them. Sadly our old boy went to the Rainbow Bridge 2 months ago and we have now adopted Minnie Moo, parentage unknown but a fair bit of whippet/greyhound involved. She is a 5 month old whirlwind, bright, intelligent and a born thief of anything not nailed down. Happy days!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Diana. Great name, Minnie Moo. We’re on three at the moment, though you’re brave to have a 5mnth old – I’m not sure my partner would let me get a lurcher pup after what she’s seen!

  4. I have a rescued Greyhound cross whose other components were the subject of much speculation among a great many of his fans until a DNA test proved he was half purebred Borzoi and half Greyhound. Making him a longdog! He’s huge and funny and very ver naughty, but with the most glorious goofy nature and a truly splendid tail. If you want to visit him, he naturally has his own Facebook page (below). Great to have found this blog!

      1. By an extraordinary coincidence, a few months later I adopted an identical-looking dog from a different shelter. Further DNA tests showed they are brothers, so I now have two hairy, bouncy, naughty and extremely entertaining longdogs, both of them effortlessly ruled by my now-small-looking rescue Greyhound. Fun times.

        1. That’s cool. They’re marvellous beasts. I thought our late Jade on her own was fun, but Django and Chilli together are a real sight when they get running or playing. I’d definitely have at least a pair now. 🙂

  5. A friend has just pointed me in the direction of your blog as we have just completed our first week of Lurcher puppy ownership. She is an absolute delight, but I had forgotten how much having a puppy is like having a toddler in the house! Ours is a deerhound/collie/foxhound/who knows what mixture, but she has already stolen our hearts. Look forward to reading more of your Lurcher adventures!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I do try to tell people that lurcher pups are absolutely insane, but no-one listens (not even me). You should send a photo some time, and we’ll put it up. More lurcher stuff coming in the next week or so.

  6. Love your lurcher posts. I’m not sure if my whippet/German pointer X counts as a lurcher, but she certainly ticks every box you’ve mentioned in characteristics, from ‘walking to heel’ within 2 miles, chasing everything that moves, obsessively trying to instigate biteyface with every other dog she meets, and generally being completely mental. Absolutely adore her and your posts make me laugh out loud as I can relate to everything you write. Keep them coming!

  7. Whoa, what a find your blog is! We acquired Wall-e, caramel smooth hair, now ca. 4 years old, 50/50 greyhound/saluki 3 years ago (abandoned in our village) as our first long dog. Distant memories of owning collies when young were immediately forgotten, long dogs are not collies, period. Classes gave the minimum modicum of training such as sit (only for cheese), fetch (only the squirrel or rabbit), come (today, if possible), Stay (really?). We spent at least 5 days scattered in this period looking for the escapee across fields and getting mountain bikes in a sorry state. But what a boy!
    the X greyhound/saluki is not only fast but endures! They can run, and keep running. You have not got a chance. He had many dog friends in the village and 9 am was the big dog meet at the football ground for a glorious beating of the competition at speed chasing (only the Dalmatian got anywhere close, but lost it in cornering). Two years on we came upon Eva, a white/sable smooth, also a rescue, from the superb Wallace Kennels in Brentwood, Essex. Pure Saluki but for the last cross with a greyhound, she is the fastest dog I have ever seen. Wall-e, who is no slouch himself, has to concede defeat. She is now two years old, as surprisingly has been a doddle to train. Sit (for anything), come (straight way), Stay (of course), Fetch (which ball?) is a given. Our small garden in Essex, and the endless ‘I have lost my dog (s)’ events started to become expensive in vet fees and time cleaning mountain bikes, to we bought a big place in Norfolk with a 2 acre ‘Fort Knox’ fencing paddock, where we can let them rip. They walk superbly on the lead together anywhere else, enjoy the most entertaining bitey face games (so far, no vet fees), and snuggle together at night. They are a team, and love each other, and Wall-e is much more manageable on commands too (if she can do it, so can I, sort of thing). We would never have chosen a long dog as a pet, but now, its long dogs all the way!

    1. They are wonderful, and it’s great to meet a fellow enthusiast. Never had a Saluki cross, only deerhound and bedlington x’s – sounds wonderful. I have to admit that none of our lurchers have ever mastered fetch as such. Invariably they will run after things (Balls, sticks etc) quite happily, but then they have only two modes: run away with the object in question, or stare at it until we walk over and throw it again. They like to make sure that we’re well-exercised. 🙂

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Literature, lurchers and life