Thursday, October 23, 2008


It's always amazing to watch an Irish Wolfhound puppy grow.
Sometimes they wake up from a nap, and wow, they're much taller and longer than when they went to sleep!
Here is Liberty, with her new LEGS:

Photo by Bill Buell

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Verity Slideshow

CH Glenamadda Starkeeper Verity in the Hound Group, Santa Barbara, Summer 2008.
These are still photos in a slideshow. Thank you to Handlers Bill Buell and Erin Hines for the photos.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Big 3.5

It now has been about a month since Liberty came home. Here she is at 3.5 months, in very early morning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mail for a Dog

In the P.O. mailbox lay an envelope addressed to "CH Glenamadda Starkeeper Verity."

She didn't seem to mind when I opened it for her.

I let out a whoop. She looked at me.

It was an invitation.

Congratulations! it said. WOW! I said. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

To be invited she had to qualify. To qualify she had to be in the top 25 Irish Wolfhounds nationally between Oct. 10, 2007, and Oct. 8, 2008. 

She's only been competing since March.

And she qualified. WOW did she!!!

I gave her a big hug and she looked at me again, rolling her eyes, you're a little crazy today, mom.

Yes, I am, I told her. 

Monday, October 13, 2008


A Big Congratulations to Handler Bill Buell and his St. Bernard, CH Alta Vista's Billion Kilowatt, CD, for winning an all-breed Best in Show in Oklahoma on Sunday, Oct. 12!
The judge was Mr. Ken Buxton, who himself recently was honored with AKC's esteemed 2009 lifetime achievement award.
Kilo is a wonderful Saint, with a very sweet temperament. He's well-trained, and an excellent ambassador for his breed, wherever he happens to be. In the show ring, he has won numerous specialty best in show wins. He is ranked No. 1 in national Best of Breed rankings.
Congratulations to owners Tom Brown and S. Tsagris, and also to co-handler Erin Hines! Go, Kilo!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

At 7 weeks

This video by Dr. Susan Prokopenko shows a hint of what hard work is ... a litter of 11 Irish Wolfhound puppies. This is the Z litter at feeding time, when they were 7 weeks old. Our Liberty can be seen in the mob rush toward food; she's wearing a pink yarn collar.

Puppy action

This is a video by Dr. Susan Prokopenko of Glenamadda Irish Wolfhounds. It shows three puppies from the Glenamadda Starkeeper Z litter at 10 weeks. The puppy with the litter name of Zsa Zsa (hot pink collar) seen on the far right in the beginning of the video is now our Liberty, and very much enjoying her new Southern California lifestyle!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Welcome, Liberty

Introducing ...
Glenamadda Starkeeper Liberty
Born July 4, 2008. (Pictured at 8 weeks)
Now that we have Verity (which means Truth) and Liberty, we're not in Pursuit of Happiness because we ARE very happy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From Zero to the Top 5 in 4 months

When the Best of Breed rankings were posted online for Jan. 1-July 31, we were thrilled to see that BISS CH Glenamadda Starkeeper Verity was No. 5 Irish Wolfhound. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Best in Specialty Show: IWAWC 2008

Photo by Rich Bergman
BISS CH Glenamadda Starkeeper Verity
Many, many thanks to Judge Eugene Blake for seeing Verity's true type, balance, temperament, and movement.
In photo, left to right: Irish Wolfhound Club of America president Dennis Gallant, presenting the IWCA Founders' Breeders Cup; Mr. Blake; Handler Bill Buell with Verity; IWCA vice president, Western Sighthound vice president, and IWAWC secretary Pat Cobb; IWAWC vice president Donna Drake.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Two more Best of Breed wins

Best of Breed went to CH Glenamadda Starkeeper Verity at Mt. Palomar Kennel Club's two dog shows in breezy San Diego County over the weekend. Thank you to hound judges Mr. George Boulton (whippet breeder) and Ms. Diane Malenfant (bassets and whippets) for seeing Verity's true breed type and movement.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Verity means Truth

Last weekend, we were thrilled that our girl, CH Glenamadda Starkeeper Verity, got her first group placement at the all-breed Conejo Kennel Club show! The catalog is here. Thank you to our breed judge, Mr. James E. Fredericksen, and to our group judge, Mr. George Heitzman.

If that weren't exciting enough, this weekend, our girl went to the Irish Wolfhound Association of the West Coast specialty in Lompoc and won ...
Total Entry: 127 Irish Wolfhounds,
96 conformation, including 23 specials.
We thank respected Hound Judge Eugene Blake for this spectacular win for our young champion.
He said he chose her based on breed type; balance; temperament; and movement.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friends of Harry

Copyright 2008 Photo by Pat Murkland

Harry had some really great friends. He took special care of his little friends.
Here he is with one of his biggest little friends, Rocky.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy birthday, Harry

Harry would have been 7 years old today!
Here he is, 5 years ago, celebrating his second birthday.
Harry nearly didn't make it to his second birthday.
He was poisoned.
He was in the hospital for a week on IVs and then returned home to suffer more before his torsion of the spleen was diagnosed.
Then, after the surgery to save his life, he suffered severe pneumonia that initially went undiagnosed by the hospital that had done the emergency surgery. After we disagreed over the pneumonia treatment that works on wolfhounds, I pulled Harry from the hospital and my now-retired vet saved Harry's life. This photo was taken shortly afterward. (The ER hospital cut off Harry's beard for "convenience," which sparked my lifelong campaign to educate vets about unneeded grooming and shaving.) Later, we discovered that Harry suffered terrible kidney damage as well in the poisoning incident.
So, this second birthday was a cause for celebration. Every day after this was a gift. We were truly blessed to have Harry with us for five more years. This is one of my favorite photos of Harry because one can truly see his beautiful spirit shining and glowing in his eyes and smile.
(and yes, Blake was honored to wear Harry's second birthday hat for his own second birthday photo!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tribute to Harry (5): A Love Story

Harry meets Ginny, 2006. Copyright photo by Pat Murkland

She was a tiny redhead, just arrived off the plane from Canada.
He was the Big Guy ... The Extra Big Guy.
Some people might not put a tiny puppy in the same yard as an extra-large alpha male.
But this was Harry. As for the tiny redhead ...
It was love at first sight.
It was Magic.
She was smitten. From Day One she had a crush on Harry.
Since he was Harry Potter, registered with AKC as Wizard, this little redheaded Witch named herself: Ginny Weasley. That's the Truth. (Her registered name is Verity.)

Puppy Ginny on an outing with Harry. Copyright Pat Murkland.

As Ginny grew, Harry was nanny, confidante, friend. After every separation, she came running into the house to greet Harry. She always was thrilled to see him.

Young Ginny with beloved Harry. Copyright Pat Murkland.

They were wonderful companions and friends. They had great joy together. She always had someone to look up to, and he felt young again with his girl. They chased rabbits together or just hung out.

As Harry deteriorated, his love for Ginny stayed strong.
Here they are together for the last time:

Copyright Pat Murkland

Although he was having trouble breathing, he still was goofing around with his best friend, his love.
After he died, Ginny came into the house and ran from room to room, searching for Harry.
She has been lying down in his "spot." She has been mourning his loss.
Someday, they'll be together again.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tribute to Harry (4)

Coursing Harry
Harry was a fabulous courser in his day.

He was No. 2 in national competition when he was forced to retire from competition due to illness. However, the rest of his life, he continued to course at home, whether chasing or just running for the joy of it.

Pulling ahead of the competition, below:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tribute to Harry (3)

Champion door opener
As noted in a previous post, the wolfhounds are great at opening doors, and Harry was the master of all door-openers. Here, he was caught in the act of opening the doorknob with his mouth so he could go inside with his partners in crime, Ginny (then a puppy, center), and Erin, who no doubt master-minded the whole operation.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tribute to Harry (2)

Harry at six years
Harry very much enjoyed running and coursing and playing. He loved to chase squirrels and rabbits right up to the day he died.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tribute to Harry (1)

Harry and Puppy Omen, 2002
Today Omen would have been six years old.
Now that Harry has joined him in the next world, I believe that their relationship has resumed to what it was when Omen was young. They were the best of friends, and Omen was Harry's shadow. He imitated everything that Harry did. Because Omen had severe temperament issues and was extremely shy, Harry taught him that life is exciting and fun. It was a joy to witness the countless tender ways Harry was the loving guardian of his buddy, Omen. They loved to run together and I picture them running together now — chasing after Erin.
 They still can't catch her.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Our Loss

CH Rysheron's Wizard, JC, 
July 16, 2001-July 3, 2008
This morning we lost our best friend, Harry.
Run free, beloved.
No more suffering, no more pain.
We love you!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Doggy Doors

A friend has a houseful of doors that have dog doors: Dog doors to the outside yards, front and back, and dog doors to different rooms. These are downright useful for the dogs, so they can go outside, through the flap, and back in, without asking. Or, one can close the dog door to limit their access and egress when needed.

This friend contemplated the one dog door I have, that came with the house, in back, which is about Cocker spaniel size. He made a comment that it would have to be seriously enlarged to accommodate an Irish Wolfhound. 

I told him that my regular doors ARE dog doors. 

Our smarty-pants Wolfhounds know how to turn doorknobs with their mouths to open a door. Besides, Harry demonstrates how a regular sized-door pretty much serves as a Wolfhound door:
Come on in ... especially if you have a treat!

Monday, June 30, 2008

10 challenges = 1 Canine Good Citizen

The Canine Good Citizen test offered fun for Blake, and challenges, too. We had to pass each and every one of the 10 tasks, to achieve the CGC certificate.

Here's what we had to do, all following our AKC evaluator's instructions:
  1. Accepting a friendly stranger. Blake was told to sit at my side. I shook hands with the evaluator and we traded greetings. The dog must not break his position, must not be shy, but must not try to go to the evaluator. 
  2. Sitting politely for petting. The evaluator asked permission to pet Blake, and she pet his head, then his body. I was not allowed to talk to him. The dog must stay in place while being petted. Blake decided this was a good time to KISS the evaluator!
  3. Appearance and grooming. I told Blake to "stand." Blake was inspected for cleanliness and allowed the evaluator to brush him. She picked up each of his feet and examined each ear. This demonstrates that the dog welcomes grooming and will allow others (such as a vet) to examine him. Blake decided the evaluator needed more KISSES.
  4. Out for a walk. Demonstrating that Blake is not in control of our walks, we followed a little course as directed by our evaluator. I wasn't as good at following the evaluator's calls of "right turn" and "left turn" and "about turn" but Blake stayed right at my side, walking calmly and so attuned to me that he turned instantly whenever I did.
  5. Walking through a crowd. We had a group of spectators, and they came into the ring while we wove our way back and forth among them, Blake always walking calmly at my side. The dog isn't supposed to lunge or jump or strain on the leash. Blake was perfect.
  6. Sit and down on command, and staying in place. This was where I was not sure of what Blake would do. However, he did all that he was supposed to. He sat when I told him to sit. When the evaluator said, "Now you need to tell him to get down," he went down the minute SHE said the word! Then I told him to stay, walked across the ring, turned around, walked back to Blake and then walked away again to the center of the ring, where he had to ...
  7. Come when called. At first Blake was reluctant to get up from his "stay" in the nice shady spot in the cool grass. But then he decided he had better come and see what I wanted, so he came directly to me.
  8. Reaction to another dog. We had to walk toward another person with a dog, then I stopped, shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with the other person. The dogs are supposed to stay by their handlers' sides and show no more than a casual interest in each other. Blake was so businesslike that he became the test "stranger dog" for other dogs trying to get their CGC certificate!
  9. Reaction to distraction. This shows confidence when faced with distracting situations. But outside the ring we had some interesting distractions. We were very close to a horse pasture and all the horses, along with a few goats, were at fenceside, watching the CGC tryouts! Inside the ring, the evaluator walked strangely and closely past us with a crutch, then dropped it close to Blake. She also shook a can filled with pebbles and threw it, which Blake loved! 
  10. Supervised separation. Blake had to "down" and "stay" and the evaluator took his leash while I left and got out of sight for three or so minutes. The dog must stay calm. No problem for Blake, he really thought the evaluator was a great friend by then!
Wow, we did it!!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mr. Good Citizen!

The San Diego and Southern California St. Bernard clubs had a match today in the San Bernardino area, and they said their AKC Canine Good Citizen testing was open to all breeds. Friend Bill has an air-conditioned truck and he said I could keep Blake in there to protect him from the heat. 

OK! We can just practice, I thought. We've been working on our obedience commands. Blake is SOOOOOO mischievous, being one of the rambunctious tennis litter, I was sure that we would, at the very least, provide entertainment for the Working Group crowd. 

Outside the ring Blake was rolling in the grass and playing with and mouthing the leash.

He had a big Irish smile on his face, and that look in his eye. Hoo boy, I thought.

But once the testing began, Blake was excellent! He passed every step with flying colors. The evaluator even used him as the "stranger dog" with the remaining dogs being tested.

Blake's winning strategy: "It helped to kiss the evaluator and tell her how much I loved her at every step of the testing."

Congratulations, Mr. Canine Good Citizen!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tryouts for the Herding Group

Our neighbors down the road and around the corner (you remember the loose bull) let their goats wander, and sure enough, once again, the herd arrived, hungry, at our house.
While their brush-clearing habits are indeed a fire-protection service, they eat EVERYTHING, including the fruit trees outside our chainlink fence. They also broke into another neighbor's corrals and ate their horses' hay and grain. 
When they came outside the chainlink and began destroying the fruit trees they already had decimated the other day, I decided to see what we could do about this.
The lead goat wears a collar with a bell. When our toy Manchesters heard the bell, they barked like maniacs in their Munchkin voices. So, I let them out, and quickly they were bouncing off the chainlink, barking at the goats. 
The goats ignored them. They were directly on the other side of the fence. Chomp, chomp, chomp. The goats were breaking the young apple tree's branches.
OK, since we had no members of the Herding Group available, maybe this was a job for an Irish Wolfhound.
Come here, Blake.
In an instant, Blake was working the goats, from his side of the fence. He rounded them up into a little knot, ran back and herded up the strays ... and sent them packing!
They headed down the driveway and went home!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to the tennis player litter, all my nine brothers and two sisters, from Blake!
We're all two years old today.
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear tennis litter,
Happy birthday to you!

My brothers and sisters, I have one more word for you today:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ginny's checklist

Getting ready for a dog show
We're going to the shows this weekend. Here's how Ginny prepares.
  1. Muscle toning and exercise program. Play "demolition derby," knocking against other Wolfhounds until one or none remains standing. Repeat right up to the ringside, if needed. Status of completion: ONGOING.
  2. Bath (as close to showtime as possible). Dig a hole in the dirt, knock over the water bucket to make mud, lie down and roll. Status of completion: DONE (yesterday afternoon).
  3. Groom coat to perfection. Chase madly after a squirrel or rabbit, ripping through briars, burrs, and brush. Status of completion: DONE (squirrel, this a.m.).
  4. Practice gaiting for the judge: Grab a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom, gait around the living room in a circle and down and back. Practice until roll is emptied and spread around room. Status of completion: DONE (this a.m.).
  5. Smile! Remember to have fun. Status of completion: ALWAYS.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Salute!

Happy Father's Day to Merlin and Tate!
We are extremely fortunate at Gryffindor Irish Wolfhounds to have two wonderful young Irish Wolfhounds, Ginny and Blake. They both are beautiful inside and out ... all that one can hope for and dream for in a Wolfhound.

Blake leading Ginny in the chase (Murkland photo)

That's no accident — it's all due to the hard work of their breeders (Glenamadda, Starkeeper, Limerick) and the many years of dedication and thoughtfulness that continue in their kennels. Marvelously, these dogs' pedigrees come from years of collaboration among quality Wolfhound kennels in Europe, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.

Both Ginny and Blake have gorgeous Moms. We look forward to celebrating them later! 
This being Father's Day, we'll celebrate our Fathers now:
  • Merlin, 
known officially as
MSBIS BIS CH Taliesin's Llenlleawg, CGC,
was Ginny's (Verity's) sire.

"The King" with his prince and princess puppies,
 Victory (Ginny's brother) and Monet. (Mary O'Mally Photo)

The details:
By CH Donna's Dream von der Oelmuhle X CH Taliesin's Lasair of Eagle
Breeders: Donna Smith, David Smith, and Samuel Evans Ewing 3rd (Eagle)
Owners: Karen Malone and Donna Smith

The dazzle:
The Taliesin website showcases highlights from his show career, which included numerous specialty wins.

Here, you can watch Merlin win Best of Breed at Westminster 2005.
(Example of what judges said about him: 2005 PVIWC specialty Judge Michael Canalizo wrote in his critique: "If he had any flaws they were so minor I never made notice of them.") 

Merlin was indeed a magical Wolfhound in the show ring. But of course having a wolfhound in your life means much, much more, and I think I can see who he was in who my Ginny is.

Both parents get credit for Ginny's sweet, sweet temperament ... and sharp, sharp intelligence. I don't know WHO is responsible for the mischief gene, however! 
  • Tate, 
MSBIS BIS CH Taryn Tate of Limerick SC
has been declared Stud Dog of the Year for 2007, having sired NINE wolfhounds who became AKC champions last year. Among them was Blake's brother, Cash, who became a CH at nine months! More titles are on the way, as several of Blake's half-brothers and half-sisters and his littermates are all close to their CH titles this year. Blake's sister Serena is working on her rally novice title, too!

In the showring, 2006 IWAWC specialty. (Murkland/Buell Photo)

The details:
By CH Urlimerick of Kilmara X CH Taryn's Abigail
Breeder: Brenda Taylor-Fairbanks (Taryn)
Owners: Linda Souza and Jamie Souza-Bartlett 
The dazzle:
Tate was an incredible dog in many ways. When he was just over two years old, he already had won a specialty and an all-breed Best in Show. Of the three specialties he won in 2006, two were from the veteran class. 

The 2006 IWAWC specialty judge, Roni Kaluza, wrote in her critique: "... As the class wore on, CH Taryn Tate of Limerick just got better and better. By the final go-round, he owned the ring. He is a big, upstanding dog, who, despite the heat, just never let down. He is typey, curvey, strong, and masculine, perfectly groomed and shown." 

As for personality ... Speaking of mischief ... The tennis player litter (or should I say "set"), of which Blake is a member, is famed for shenanigans. They love life. They embody what it is to be an Irish Wolfhound. Although Blake is happy, happy, happy, he can be majestic and powerful when the situation demands.

We love Blake and Ginny.

Thank you, Tate and Merlin!

Father's Day Salute: Our patriarch

Puppy Ginny in 2006 goes for a walk with her beloved Harry
(Murkland photo copyright 2006)

Happy Father's Day!
Although our Harry has never sired a litter, he is our patriarch, the alpha male leader of our "pack."
Harry is oh, so sweet and kind. He's friends with everyone he meets. People can't get enough of petting and hugging Harry.

A local car dealership put on display our photo of Harry gently greeting a tiny kitten. Harry also is friends with our tortoise – and one time, he saved the tortoise's life by alerting me that the tortoise had flipped itself over and couldn't get right-side-up again. 

Harry also has been a great guardian and protector. One time Harry just stood and looked at a group of men who trespassed and wouldn't leave our property, and believe me, they left in a hurry.

Harry takes his duties as patriarch seriously. He has been a patient nanny to our puppies and other people's, too. He is a quiet but effective teacher. Now that Harry is failing, we take care to protect the Old Man and make sure that he and young Blake stay the best of friends.
Happy Father's Day, Harry.  

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Judging a Book by its Cover

This is my favorite book cover featuring Irish Wolfhounds (so far).
My copy had a former life as a library book, so note that the brown stripes at top and bottom are part of its clear protective cover, not the design.

Here's what appeals:
  1. The wheaten Wolfhound, Holdfast. His power and strength are offset by the gentle hand of his mistress. The illustrator obviously read the manuscript because the scene foreshadows the story's "gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked" theme.
  2. The dynamic interplay between the girl, the flow of her Elizabethan gown and the Irish Wolfhound. Really nice design.
  3. The typeface seems more Yellow Submarine than medieval but it still manages to flow and take our focus to the girl and dog.
What else appeals:
The Beattys lived in Riverside, CA, my former haunt. They used some of my favorite libraries to research the history for this novel set in Elizabethan England. The novel is aimed at young readers. For more books that feature Wolfhounds or that even mention a Wolfhound, here's a list.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just a bystander

I went to the pet food and supply store where we enjoyed the grand opening earlier this week, and the cashier recognized me. Sort of. 
"Oh," she said. "You're the one with the Biggest Dog."
However, she didn't say it as, "You're the OWNER of the Biggest Dog."
She said it as, "You're the one who ACCOMPANIES the Biggest Dog." 
As in, "The Biggest Dog's chauffeur."
"The Biggest Dog's go-fer."
"The Biggest Dog's secretary."
"The Biggest Dog's buyer of pet foods."
"The Biggest Dog's personal groomer."
"The Biggest Dog's maid."
"The Biggest Dog's fan club president."
Yup. That's me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another beastly encounter

Last week we had an encounter with a bear.
This week, once again I heard Blake barking ferociously. This time it was broad daylight. I ran outside to see what was causing my Irish Wolfhound — who never barks — to bark so amazingly. 
It was a loose bull.
The bull was standing in my driveway with a herd of loose cows and calves. He was mixing it up with my neighbor's longhorns, in the adjacent pasture.  The longhorn steer didn't like the bull's interest in the lady longhorns, and the barbed wire between them seemed suddenly rather fragile.
Blake was standing at the fenceline closest to the driveway, sounding the alarm and ready to take them all on. Thankfully the chainlink separated him from the bull, but who knows how long that would last? He came when I called. 
Thankfully, the bull's owners soon arrived and herded away the trespassers.
Bull versus Bear Market? I was thankful that this time I could see what was going on. Besides Blake, that is.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Name games

My first Irish Wolfhound more than eight years ago was very special as the first, and I searched and thought a long while when it came to naming her and registering her with the American Kennel Club. I looked through Irish dictionaries and delved into other possible sources such as myths and legends. In the end she gave me her own name, because that's who she was: Erin, Rocket Girl of Rysheron. Her call name was Erin ... Ireland.
Harry's registered name is CH Rysheron's Wizard, JC, a tipoff that Harry's name pays homage to the hero of J.K. Rowling's magical classics. 
CH Glenamadda Starkeeper Verity was a bundle of red brindle when she arrived as a puppy from Canada. A smarty redhead with a giant crush on Harry from Day One ... naturally, she named herself: Ginny.
 Young Ginny with Harry at dusk in 2007
Her registered name, Verity, comes from being in the "V" litter. Verity means truth, and that's my hope for the foundation of my kennel.
Blake, the youngest, registered as Limerick Blake at Gryffindor, comes from a litter of 12 magnificent wolfhounds that are all named after tennis players! 

Sunday, June 8, 2008

He's the Man

A new pet food and supply store opened over the weekend. Blake and I went to the grand opening celebration, where he was mobbed by adoring fans. He had great fun being a celebrity! He enjoys all people of all ages and races and disabilities. He even liked meeting the people dressed up in furry costumes as giant dogs and cats. People snapped photos of themselves with him. The store held a contest and Blake won ... Biggest Dog. Woo hooo! I loved the store gift card but Blake sniffed it expectedly and wondered why it wasn't a treat. We also got a studio photo taken for free and I have to say it's a pity I'm not one of those people who resemble their pets ... Blake is so handsome!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tails of Boy Meets Girl

Usually Ginny has her tail straight up in the air when she's playing or having good Irish fun. But here (in front), I think maybe she's showing her "flirty tail" to Blake ... and his tail says it's working.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008


They say about Irish Wolfhounds: "Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked." 
And it seems there is no dog sweeter or more gentle than happy young Blake. For example, Blake is extra gentle, very mindful, and careful around children and people who are disabled. I'm hoping he has a future as a therapy dog.

Last night, however, I saw the "provoked" side of my sweet boy.
It started with a great commotion around 9:30 p.m. in our Canyon. I had let Blake out in a small fenced yard behind my house, before I brought him in for the night. The neighbors' dogs were barking frantically, and amazingly, so were a pack of coyotes. Usually when the coyotes are having a teasing exchange with the neighbors' dogs, they cackle and howl. This time, however, both wild and domestic canines were barking ferociously. What was up?

In less than 10 minutes,  I heard Blake barking and growling as I have never heard him before. I ran out to the yard and Blake was standing in powerful majesty at the fenceline. In the porchlight, all his fur seemed to be standing on end. He was gazing into the dark wilderness, the national forest beyond our fence. When he saw me he immediately placed himself between me and the fenceline, his barking and growling continuing all the while. There was little moonlight to see what was out there. In the darkness, there was ... something. I called and he came to me. 

This morning my neighbors said it appeared that a bear had knocked over other neighbors' very large and heavy trash cans. And when I let Blake out in the morning light, he ran to that same spot near the fence, growling and looking around. Then he stopped and came to me with a wolfhound grin. He was satisfied that the danger was gone.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Wolfhounds in Congress

The Federation of European Irish Wolfhounds just had a Congress and dogs came from all over with their people to Slovenia.  The Best-in-Show winner both days was from a kennel I admire deeply from afar, Pitlochry of the Netherlands. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Fernhout! Photos of their winning champion Catweazle are here.  

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's monumental

The bronze dog on the Irish brigade monument at Gettysburg National Military Park is one of the most famous Irish Wolfhound statues. 
Esteemed longtime breeder Elizabeth C. Murphy's archival site celebrates these places in Dublin where wolfhounds can be found: 
Mourning a lost friend, Mt. Jerome Cemetery
With heroic figures atop the Post Office Building
On top of the former Parliament House, Dame Street.
For closer views of these monumental wolfhounds, visit the Irish Wolfhound Archives.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sisterly pride

Verity's sister, Veronica, was already a Canadian champion when she went to her beloved family, the Lewingtons, in Australia. In a short time she became an Australian champion and ever since has enjoyed great successes in the show rings "down under." Sue Lewington writes:
"Last weekend Roni got her class in group (Intermediate) and then yesterday she got Runner-up in Group (Group 2) and Intermediate again ... Both shows were champ shows and we had around 120 in the group." The judge said Roni was a "lovely representative of her breed."
Congratulations, Roni!

Monday, May 26, 2008


We haven't been coursing for quite a while, but we hope to get our new generations rocketing through the competition fields as they do at home. It's fun and keeps the dogs physically fit. Here are three views of Erin, Rocket Girl, as she enjoyed the sport: 

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thigh of hare, foot of cat

Stories and art of medieval European hunts feature greyhounds of all sizes, including very large hounds described as "rough-coated greyhounds."

The 1300s definitive guide to hunting, Livre de Chasse by Gaston Phoebus, shows different kinds of hunting dogs: 
Note the large "rough-coated greyhound," top left, and compare with the smaller greyhounds, at center.

Livre de Chasse and another Middle Ages work, Le Roman de d├ęduis, describe the ideal hunting greyhound: 
"Muzzle of wolf, haunch of lion, neck of swan ... eye of sparrowhawk, ear of snake ...
"He had a shoulder like the roe's;
His flank was like the woodland doe's;
Loin of stag; tail of rat;
Thigh of hare and foot of cat."
(From The Art of Medieval Hunting: The Hound and the Hawk, 2003, Castle Books, copyright John Cummins)

Compare with the American Kennel Club breed standard for the Irish Wolfhound which emphasizes that Wolfhounds are a "rough-coated greyhound-like breed." And it's only about 700 years later!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The eyes have it

A Wolfhound's eyes are mystical, full of wisdom and mystery from the Creation — and full of Irish humor and mischief, too.

Wolfhounds are a sighthound or gazehound — they hunt with their eyes, not with their noses. Mine seem very attuned to their surroundings. Move an object from one side of the living room mantelpiece to the other, and when walking casually past, they'll stop short to explore the change. Outside, their eyes capture every nuance of the landscape. At a dog show, Ginny always knows exactly how to get back to where we parked.

Omen loved to chase gophers and squirrels, of which we have a multitude here in our Canyon. When he hunted them, however, he didn't shove his nose into their ground holes; he pressed his face against the dirt, peering with one eye into the hole. Imagine being a gopher and looking upward to see a giant eye peering at you!

Omen, I miss you. Here's looking at you, kid.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Happy 10th birthday, Vanna!

This note comes from Jocelyne Gagne:
"Yesterday Vanna got the best birthday present she could get ... a straightaway 30-yard run (and then the run back). She would have gone further, but I wouldn't let her. All her coursing friends were cheering her on, and Vanna loved every minute of it!
"Susan loosed her, so I could capture Vanna on film. What a girl!!!! What a special wolfhound ...

MultiBIS MultiBISS Multi BIF Can. Am. Ch. Kellcastle Starkeeper Vanilla, F.Ch. X, JC, CGN, CGC

"Vanna and I thank her breeder Anne Spalding for letting Vanna leave the Oregon beaches to make her home in Canada, and we send birthday greetings to Vanna's litter brother in Pennsylvania, Bailey (AKA Am. CH. Kellcastle Chocolate Ribbon). The last two ice-creamers [from the 'ice-cream' litter] ... wonderful to have them celebrating their TENTH!
Jocelyne Gagne, Starkeeper Irish Wolfhounds"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saddle up

People who see an Irish Wolfhound for the first time inevitably offer the same bit of wit:
"You can put a saddle on that thing!" or "Can you saddle that and ride it?" or some variant ...
One time when I was walking Blake near a polo practice field, a player rode his horse up to the fence and asked, "Can I put my saddle on your dog?"
Someone should apply for a large, lucrative government grant to study why so many people consistently make the same joke and think it's original and funny.
I like to wink and say: "Yes, I could saddle up my dog, but I much prefer riding a broom!"

p.s. If you're looking for real answers to your questions about Irish Wolfhounds, please visit the Irish Wolfhound Club of America website. There, wise and responsible people offer all kinds of valuable information and expertise.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I have lived with Irish Wolfhounds only about eight years. They bring me great joy every day. My current Irish Wolfhounds are, from oldest to youngest:
Harry. CH Rysheron's Wizard, JC. 
Ginny. CH Glenamadda Starkeeper Verity. 
Blake. Limerick Blake at Gryffindor. 
I'll be sharing more about them and hope to generate some positive discussions about the breed.