Tag Archives: longdogs

Days of Whine and Lurchers: End of the Year Review Part 2

A mostly canine review today, to do justice to the longdogs. Some unseen photos of our pack, some new photos from Katy of her longdog Eva, and the curious monastic regime of Django, one of our own little monsters. We do spoil it towards the end, though, by mentioning book stuff again…

our only short-dog, doing something disgusting as usual

As we said last episode, the popularity of the Lurchers for Beginners series took us by surprise. It wasn’t even meant to be a series, for starters. During the year we covered What is a Lurcher, Lurchers and Your (ex) Garden, Common Questions about Lurchers, Lurcher Equipment and sundry other related topics.

chilli explains to django exactly how the garden will be destroyed (it doesn’t look like this any more)

And although we use lurcher as a general cover-all term, people still ask us what we mean by longdogs, so we’ll slam it up one last time. Typically, a longdog is a cross between two sighthounds. Greyhound or whippet is often one half of the blend; the other can be saluki, deerhound or any other sighthound. Mix and match to your heart’s content. But don’t expect to be able to catch them…

To illustrate longdog types, we posted photos every so often of Django, Chilli, Ann’s Roxy (beautiful deerhound x) and Michaela’s Nicky (the amazing tripod). As we’re nearly out of year, we just have time to add Katy’s Eva, who is, by general reckoning, a greyhound x saluki. These are particularly nice because a couple of the shots really do show the “long” part of the name. Katy kindly sent us these after contact through Lurcher Link (photo credits – Katy herself and Peter Austin).

eva demonstrates that lurcher/longdog smile
ready for takeoff
whee – i can fly!
now you see why they’re called *long* dogs

Many thanks to Katy, and to others who have sent longdog photos throughout 2015.


it’s dinner time – do something, now!

Speaking of heart’s content, we have now pinned down the strange connection between Brother Cadfael and Django. Dogs vary (surprisingly) in how they tell you they want something.

Thinking about  some of our earlier dogs, Radar used to use a peremptory single bark: I want it, now. Jade merely looked aggrieved and waited patiently. Twiglet, still astonishingly with us at 16, is given to both the Radar-bark and a hefty shove or bat with a large paw: I want it now and I’m going to hit you until I get it. Chilli signals her requirements by pushing a very cold nose in your face and knocking your glasses off.

our late jade in a cheery mood

But Django… well, he whines. Boy, does he whine.

This might be fine on occasion, except that he adheres to a form of traditional monastic timetable which links every part of the day to a particular service. You know, where the monks have to traipse into the chapel at set hours, regardless of what else is happening. I recently managed to pin down Django’s exact schedule of service, which goes as follows:

0700 hrs  Breakfast – large bowl of yummy raw mince and bits.
1000 hrs  First Walkies – rain, sunshine, tempest, doesn’t matter. Poo forecast – light to middling.
1300 hrs  Lunch – scraps, chicken bits, anything that falls out of our sandwiches.
1500 hrs  Formal Nap – everyone should go upstairs and doze in a heap together, possibly with jumping on and off bed if First Walkies was boring.
1700 hrs  Second Walkies – especially in pouring rain, tempest etc. Poo forecast – heavy, may need multiple poo-bags.
1800 hrs  Dinner – large bowl of yummy raw mince and bits, preferably with fish or yucky bits extra (liver, kidneys, heart, last night’s uneaten peas and sprouts). Everyone else’s bowl if they’re not fast enough.
2000 hrs  Bone Time – forgotten at everyone’s peril.
1200 hrs  Supper – the sundry bits we’d been saving for a special treat (for us).
0200 hrs  Traffic direction – Chilli always takes the best dog-bed and guards it, Twiglet’s too obstinate to move, so Django has to be guided to a safe landing position.

you appear to be eating my sandwich

The above schedule wasn’t our idea. He decided that this was how he liked things, and set up vocal signals to train us acordingly. Any deviation is met with plaintive, highly annoying whines and general restlessness of the masses. As his regime leaves only five hours of potential human sleep, we are fortunate to have at least one of us semi-awake throughout that long day.

He is a joy, but a very whiny one when all’s said and done.


On the non-dog, rather than the long-dog side, we explored the joys of audio. This included an article on the outstanding radio series McLevy, based on the exploits of a real life Victorian detective in the Edinburgh police. See At Last: CSI Edinburgh

david ashton

So we were delighted to receive a subsequent e-mail from the talented David Ashton, the Scottish author and actor who writes McLevy (and star in it as Lieutenant Roach, McLevy’s boss). Amongst some kind remarks, he passed on the following:

The subsequent (BBC Audio) releases are scheduled for 1 October (Series 3 & 4) and 7 January 2016 (Series 5 & 6). We’ll all be in our Zimmer frames by the time it eventually comes out.

Sadly also the BBC in its wisdom have decreed that series 12 is to be the last. Series 11 is to be broadcast from Dec 14th (I think) 2015. Series 12 we haven’t recorded yet.

If you haven’t heard McLevy, buy, borrow it or download it. Episodes vary in their seriousness and topics. Some have a wry sense of humour and contain many wonderful observations on Victorian society and justice. At times, though, there are episodes which are haunting and quite horrifying, proving that you don’t need an actual monster to scare you – it just takes human nature.


I can’t judge other people’s tastes, but if you would prefer reading some McLevy as opposed to listening, you might try out one of David Ashton’s books. Fall from Grace is a good one, bringing in the infamous Tay bridge disaster. Enthusiasts of Victorian fiction might also like Nor Will He Sleep, in which Inspector McLevy meets up with one Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Jekyll and Hyde, in the city to bury his recently deceased father (link on right sidebar – to the book, not the deceased father).

Towards the end of the week, a quick update to our 2015 weird and horror-related posts, and then it’s time for 2016…

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Lurchers for Writers – A Tragedy in Too Many Parts

It’s an all-dog post today, before we drift back to some stupendous weird art and illustrators. We present some of the greydogs pack, and offer you

A Morning With: J Linseed Grant

Being a writer isn’t all about exciting awards ceremonies and expensive yachts. Today we are delighted to be joined by man-about-town, fashion icon and millionaire recluse, J Linseed Grant, who shares with us some insights into his whirlwind life.

The author of the notorious dark-horror novel ‘Sandra’s First Pony’ (currently under investigation by three separate Congressional Committees), Mr Grant spoke to us at his palatial North Yorkshire mansion. We asked him to outline a typical morning with his beloved hounds. The hounds themselves, Django, Chilli and Twiglet, have not been named for legal reasons…

the start of a busy morning

(A note for delicate listeners: We have to admit that the following tale of terror might be entirely true, unlike some of our usual  bunkum.)

0845. Whine whine whine. Longdogs are bored. Try to go back to sleep with pillow over head.

0900. Whine whine whine. Longdogs are still bored. Push one or more dogs off the bed, get up. Go downstairs, tread in pee patch. Incontinent labrador.

0910. Sit at computer with pint of tea. Adobe plug-in has crashed. Check e-mails sent out at 0230hrs (under influence of Spitfire Ale) for libellous comments, wrong e-mail addresses etc. Ring solicitor to say she may be earning extra this week.

0920. Lift tea to lips. Bark bark bark. Incontinent labrador needs helping down stairs. Due to dodgy vertebrae of both participants, perform morning ritual of kneeling on each step and letting dog tumble down in stages. One or both of us hits head on front door.

a disappointed girl with empty cuppa

0922. Whine whine whine. Longdogs think sound at front door is signal for going out. All rush downstairs. Step in pee again. Go up to get shoes. Longdogs think this is also signal for going out. All rush upstairs. Bark bark bark. Incontinent labrador thinks I am going back to bed, wants to come up as well. Gets excited, pees herself.

0930. Take everyone downstairs again. Mail has fallen in pee. Mop up pee. Put mail on radiator to dry.

0940. Cup of tea is cold. Adobe plug-in has crashed, Windows 7 no longer recognises sound card. Restart everything. Put tea in microwave. Microwave is full of raw minced chicken defrosting for dogs. Bark bark bark. Labrador wants to go into garden. Trip over labrador.

a boy and his teddy

0950. Start writing.

0955. Stop writing when remember that greydogtales was supposed to go out this morning. Find that I have saved most pieces in the wrong folders, and lost half the article. Search folders with increasing sense of despair.

1005. Whine whine whine. Longdogs want to go for a walk. Tell them I am master here and they will have to wait. Put kettle on for hot cup of tea.

1007. Going insane due to high-pitched whining noise penetrating entire house. Take dogs out.

1115. Get back plastered in mud, with soaking wet shoes. Go upstairs to change. Bark bark bark. Labrador thinks it is nap time. Try to go to toilet before labrador starts climbing the stairs herself. Too late. Abandon toilet. Turn labrador around half way up, tumble down step by step. Hit head on door. Longdogs think we are going out again. Whine whine whine.

a girl who has stolen someone else’s teddy

1135. First hot cup of tea. An unknown computer error has occurred. Also, unwanted McAfee Anti-virus programme now using all CPU memory. Woman phones to say she is not selling anything. Tell her that I am, and she rings off.

1140. Whine whine whine. Male longdog thinks it is lunchtime. Bark bark bark. Labrador believes him. Gets excited, pees herself. Man knocks at door offering to cut our trees down. Go to door, trip over labrador. Tell man I have less money than he has. Would he like to buy a short story? Man leaves.

1155. Start writing.

1200. Realise I am editing wrong version of story. Find right one filed with missing blog pieces, note on cost of Edwardian cutlery and photograph of a sea-cucumber. Can’t remember why that’s there.

teddy-less, a boy turns to drink

1205. Londogs, bored again, pull stuffing out of armchair and throw it all over living room. Labrador looks as if she has been wading through deep snow. Pick up stuffing. Uncover and brush down labrador. Count number of legs etc.

1220. Start writing.

1225. Back hurts from moving labrador up and down stairs. Lie on floor, am joined by three dogs who think this is game. Try using computer pad to write on. Battery too low. Something I don’t recognise has crashed. Male longdog sits on me. Whine whine whine. He thinks this game is boring.

1240. Stand up. Trip over labrador. Bark bark bark. Labrador is hungry. Now both longdogs think it is lunch-time. Whine whine whine.

1245. Try to check e-mail. Adobe plug-in has crashed. Optical mouse full of dog hair. Restart everything. Abandon cup of tea and give to labrador.

nice cuppa1
a girl gets her own cuppa at last

1255. Another productive morning is over. A fatal error has occurred in my writing career. Sob sob sob.


And that’s why so many children these days dream of being writers and owning dogs. What can being a fire-officer or an astronaut offer in comparison to the thrills of a career with longdogs, lurchers and other monsters?

On greydogtales before Christmas: Cracking features on renowned illustrator and writer John Coulthart, and on the talented Danish folk-lore artist Jorgen Bech Pedersen. We might pack in some more bits over the festive period if we have the energy left…

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Common Lurcher Questions: It’s Lurchers for Beginners 4

or An Expert Avoids Most of the Issues.

Every so often we glance at the doggie search questions people use to find this site. Alarmingly, some of them are quite serious ones. We’re just people who live with lurchers and longdogs. I may have to post a photograph of me in a white coat, like in the adverts, saying “I am not a veterinarian, but…”. Pictures of me in a grubby khaki jacket with a poo bag in one hand and the leads tangled around my legs are not inspiring, that’s for sure. So let’s forget that ‘expert’ word.

However, we thought that Lurchers for Beginners might look at some of the top searches and see what we could make of them. Today’s brilliant photos come from Lurcher Link forum member Ann, and are of her gorgeous deerhound/greyhound cross, Roxy.

ann's roxy
ann’s roxy

Here are the seven most commonly asked questions, and they are all genuine, taken from the last four weeks:

1) What’s the best way to get a lurcher fit?

Haven’t the faintest. We walk ours twice a day, stop Django eating discarded Greggs pasties from the pavement (and the contents of every other food bowl), and run them as often as possible. The running really does help (them, not you). And we feed raw, using meat and bone that isn’t too fatty and some blitzed fruit or veg now and then, but that’s optional. If you want to know, the approach is called BARF, which is what people do when they see you hacking up raw carcasses with a maniacal enthusiasm. Just don’t let your pups trough on endless kibble and cake, whatever you do feed them. When we’re exhausted and we’ve settled down, our dogs like to keep fit by jumping on and off the bed, playing bitey-face and generally exercising themselves – and our patience. It works for them.

2) Why are lurchers a funny shape?

This is down to God, evolution or human breeding programmes. Possibly all three. They are designed to run, with deep chests, very flexible spines and skeletal articulations which make them good at it. The sighthound crosses run in what is called a ‘double-hung’ suspension gallop, with all four feet off the ground a lot of the time. Lurchers have large hearts – they pump up on the old oxygen and charge at up to 45 miles an hour for short periods.

They’re not built for marathon-type stamina running, but for bursts of hyper-speed. They are built for dead-legging you, hitting trees and overshooting into rivers (see ‘muddy lurcher’ below). With a low body fat and wiry build, they can also look very leggy compared to other dogs. Chilli has at least eight legs, like furry stilts, which stick out all over the place, often in our faces. Or maybe we accidentally rescued a gigantic spider on a diet. It’s hard to tell. Django, on the other hand, resembles a kangaroo with identity issues, especially from behind.

ann’s roxy (louise kingston)

3) Do sleeping lurchers growl often?

The best we get is the occasional excited set of whimpers and a frantic kicking of one or more legs. This is presumably when they are taking down the Squirrel Army on their fantasy hunting trip. See Lurchers v Squirrels – the Battle of Dork’s Drift:

squirrel madness

Or they’re finally teaching next door’s cat a lesson. In Chilli’s case it may mean that she’s having a dream about how to reach the liver treats, thus becoming an even more independent girl than she is now. Many lurchers and longdogs make very little sound even when awake, unless they’re taunting each other to run across the coffee table and see what they can knock over.

ann's roxy
ann’s roxy

4) How do you deal with a muddy lurcher?

By covering every surface of your house in cling-film and polythene sheeting, then hosing the place down once a week. You can try bathing them, at which point they look woeful, thin and distinctly put-upon. We don’t bother. Fox poo gets a quick wet scrub in the appropriate area, everything else gets a towel-down and ‘let’s hope the vacuum can pick up all the dried mud tomorrow’. Twiglet gets a towel-down even though she doesn’t go out much, because it annoys her to be left out. But we’ve had too many dogs for too long to care much nowadays. The world is, after all, primarily mud in one form or another.

a typical lurcher owner's carpet
a typical lurcher owner’s living room carpet

5) Why does my lurcher sleep so much?

Because he or she is a lurcher. Almost every dog charity seems to have posters up trying to correct people’s views of lurchers and sighthounds. The dogs are seen charging around wildly, and people go, oh, I couldn’t deal with one of them. Lurchers and longdogs are famous for kipping – as long as they have had their burst of exercise a few times during the day. Chilli dozes for twenty plus hours of the day, and is fit, slim and one of the fastest dogs we’ve ever seen. When she’s not being fast, she just wants to cuddle and sleep. Although – have we said before that lurcher puppies are insane? They may bounce off the walls quite a lot for the first couple of years. So you’ll be asking ‘Please God, why won’t my lurcher puppy just go to sleep?’ instead.

ann's roxy (louise kingston)
ann’s roxy (louise kingston)

6) What equipment do you need for a lurcher?

A rocket-pack for catching them, chainmail gloves for interrupting bitey-face, and American football-style padding for impact damage. Numerous sofas, cushions and comfy dog-beds, because lurchers are usually low in body fat, short of an undercoat and thin-skinned. They do not appreciate sleeping on hard surfaces, and will point this out to you. Repeatedly. If nothing else is available, they will use you as the required padding. You’ll learn eventually.

Alternatively, for lead and collar issues, we refer you to our post Lurchers for Beginners 2:

this time it’s personal

with the addition that if you muzzle, be sure to use an open basket muzzle of some form. These allow the lurcher to drink and pant, which are very important given their love of charging about at high speed. Don’t use a closed or constrictive muzzle whatever you do.

a typical basket muzzle
a basket muzzle looking unnaturally clean

Basket muzzles are also a good way for your lurcher to bring more mud back into the house. Or snow. Or stinky water. Lurchers and longdogs are tool-using animals, after all.

The seventh and last question for today has no funny answer, because of what might come of it. So we’ll take this one seriously.

7) Does my lurcher need a bowl off the ground?

Again, we are not a substitute for proper advice, and studies are still mixed in this area. Deep-chested and large dogs tend to be more prone to bloat, or gastric volvulus, a terrible condition which is often treatable if caught early but can also be lethal. It may sometimes be genetic, but there are some indications that raised bowls can increases the risk of bloat, maybe because the dog eats more quickly or takes in more air. Basically they’re not sure. We feed on the floor, in case they’re right. However you choose to feed your dogs, to reduce the risk of bloat ensure that you portion food out over at least two meals a day, never one big one, and don’t exercise too soon before or after feeding. Small meals and sensible exercise rules, basically. Those might help.

Bloat needs immediate veterinary treatment. This is not an area for dithering or home remedies. If you have a large or deep-chested dog, look up the symptoms and familiarise yourself with them. You may never encounter it, so don’t start stressing out. We know what people with medical dictionaries are like. It is simply better to be prepared.


So there you have it. Another addition to the encyclopaedic Lurchers for Beginners series, bringing you everything you needed to know about your lurcher and some rubbish which you might want to forget immediately. That’ll teach you to look things up properly in a real book.

Next time: Some of those weird, dark pictures that make you feel peculiar. It’s for your own good, you know…

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Longdogs and Other Tripods We Have Known

For your mid-week pictorial pleasure, dear listeners, we have a beautiful three-legged longdog, John Christopher‘s The Tripods trilogy, H G Wells and an Edwardian artist from Brazil. All good things come in threes, except possibly ravening metal war-machines from Mars. They can be annoying.

Last week we were talking about rescue centres and Lurcher SOS, which reminded me of my plan for a gallery to show off these magnificent beasts. I was pottering on the Lurcher Link forum a while ago, and a member there, Michaela, kindly sent us some marvellous pictures of her three-legged Nicky, a saluki x greyhound and thus a true longdog. Proof that you don’t need four legs to be a wild rover. Here’s just a few shots of Nicky…

DSC00813 1_zpsprljcpql DSC04557 photos1051

Three-legged lurchers and longdogs surprise some people with their ability to match any four-legs, and you’d be amazed at their speed and agility. Thanks again for those, Michaela.


Tripods don’t end there. It seemed wasteful to show off Nicky and not to use the opportunity to go weird. We needed two other, far stranger (and less licky) examples of tripods to complete the article. As we’re generally being arty at the moment, our second focus is on the artist Henrique Alvim Correa.

Henrique-Alvim-CorrêaCorrea was born in Brazil in 1876, but his family moved to France when he was a teenager, and he eventually settled in Belgium. His relevance to greydogtales, apart from being a neat artist, is that he illustrated the 1906 Belgian edition of H G WellsWar of the Worlds. Despite the various re-imaginings of Wells’ tripods, and the filmed versions, Correa’s pictures should be the iconic ones, capturing the feel of the age so well just nine years after the book’s publication.

(On a personal note, I found some of the acting in the 2005 Spielberg film too annoying to enjoy the images and special effects fully. I had to re-watch the 1953 version with Gene Barry to cheer myself up again.)

Apparently Correa himself initiated the idea after reading War of the Worlds, and came to the UK with his drawings to show to H G Wells. Wells loved them and Correa was asked to illustrate the special illustrated edition being planned by Vandamme, the Belgian publishers, which he did. Sadly Correa had tuberculosis and died only four years later, in 1910.

Here are a few of the brilliant Correa illustrations to enjoy:

Correa-Martians_vs._Thunder_Child 1906War-of-the-worlds-tripodcorreacorreaposter martiandrunks

As soon as I’d written the above, as usually happens, I discovered the monsterbrains site which has loads more Correa art on display. Aeron Alfrey of monsterbrains also creates his own unique imagery inspired by the macabre, grotesque and monstrous. It’s well worth a visit to browse the other weird art there:

correa at monsterbrains

I was going to resist, but it proved impossible not to mention Jeff Wayne‘s War of the Worlds musical/narrative version after looking at the Correa drawing of the Thunderchild. That song always sends shivers up my spine (and I prefer this to Spielberg’s, as well. Sorry, Steve).

The third piece today had to be a mention of the late John Christopher and The Tripods. And it’s a trilogy. Three time three times three. That’s practically nine, the number of worlds in Norse mythology, and a lucky number in Chinese associated with the dragon. Where am I? This isn’t my arm…


John Christopher. Or Samuel Youd, actually, and he only died three years ago. Author of The Death of Grass (1956) and The World in Winter (1962), two excellent early post-apocalyptic novels from when the Brits did that kind of thing rather well. We’re not here for the writing today, though, but a brief mention of the artistic interpretations.

I loved The Tripods when I was young. The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire. My editions are, predictably, the 1967 Knight publications from the UK, not any of these modern fancy ones. Not quite sure what the artist was on.


The most notable graphic adaptation of The Tripods is in Boys’ Life magazine, which serialized all three books in the eighties. The artist was Frank Bolle, an American who drew decades worth of comic strips for young people, did book covers and a whole lot more.


And thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can find a large graphic resource of Bolle’s Tripods work by following the link below to The Haunted Closet blog:

the haunted closet: boys life

In 1985, just before the Bolle version of the three novels for Boy’s Life finished, the BBC produced comic strip versions of their own. These were not direct adaptations, though, and had the protagonists veering off on other adventures which were not in the original books. The artists this time was John Burns, but there was no resolution because in the end the BBC dropped the Junior Television Magazine in which they were appearing.


Hmm, doughboy Masters? Anyway, for many older listeners, their thought will be of the televised Tripods from the BBC and the Australian Seven Network. They only managed to adapt the first two books, in 1984 and 1985, but it was a good try – and they did have proper tripods, the Masters, rather than men in rubber suits.

John Christopher's trilogy about the Tripods became a popular TV series in the mid-1980s

If you check out this video link, you can skip to about minute 6 to see the tripods themselves.

And there you have it – three tripods. Lots more could be said, but  we’re out of time again.

More longdogs and lurchers, weird art and artist interviews coming up, and we’ll be joined by a couple of great authors in December. Plus the nice people at the M R James Appreciation Group have suggested some excellent ideas for neglected supernatural/strange authors to cover over the next couple of months – E Nesbit, A N L Munby, Fitz-James O’Brien, H Russell Wakefield… oh dear. Work to do, then.


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