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scottish dog breeds

13 September 2011

A Scottish Dog Breed Far From Home

We live far from the Scottish Highlands. More specifically, we live in Northern California. That’s one continent and a wide ocean from the shadows of Ben Nevis.

Our town has seen far more immigration from Guadalajara than Glasgow. The number of locals who’ve eaten haggis, attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or know which sport Hearts of Midlothian plays is extremely low–possibly even zero.

It was pretty interesting, therefore, when MW and I came across a guy last week talking in a Scottish accent to two dogs as they chased a ball in the schoolyard near our house. We often take our Great Dane puppy Luna there for a brief after-dinner romp to get her yah-yahs out before bedtime.

Two Dogs from Loch Ness?

We’d seen the “Scot” before. He has two smallish black dogs that are very quick and really, really obedient. A level of obedience, in fact, that quickly generates envy among owners of not-yet-obedient puppies like us. We’d never spoken but quietly admired from afar the controlled play of his dogs.

Shortly after letting Luna off her leash, she excitedly abandoned us to run 75 yards and introduce herself to the man and his dogs. The intro was a boisterous hello and how are you in whatever non-verbal language dogs use. The other dogs weren’t nearly as effusive, only hesitatingly following her in a spontaneous chase-me game. It was almost as if they were unsure to celebrate their innate dogness for fear of upsetting the stoic status quo of their owner/master.

After watching for a couple of minutes and unsuccessfully inviting Luna to leave her new friends and return to us, we walked over to retrieve her. That’s when MW heard the man instructing his dogs in a Scottish accent. We introduced ourselves. We introduced Luna. He nodded. Luna excitedly ran around us.

He told his dogs to lie down. They lay down. Luna did not. She continued to run. I think she wanted all of us to run in large circles. Most especially the two dogs that, inconveniently, remained prone. He dropped the Scots accent. Unprompted, the man also disclosed several vital facts to us:

1. His dogs, which appeared to me to be mixed breeds, were in fact, some kind of Highland herding dog. Can’t remember exactly what breed he said they were but it was something to do with herding. (If I had more time and more interest, I’d borrow the Atlas of Dog Breeds to confirm it).

2. More importantly, it appears, these two representatives of a breed I did not recognize were descendant from a famed bloodline imported into New York State from an unspecified European motherland or fatherland.

3. He wasn’t actually Scottish; he just affected a Scottish accent because that’s what he needed to do to maximize the effectiveness of his training. I believe he also said that language perception among this breed was so deepwired into the dogs’ DNA that he needed to speak like talk show host Craig Ferguson or they wouldn’t understand him.

McGregor Tartan

what to wear to train your scottish herding/collie/hunting dog

There’s absolutely no comeback to this, is there? Some replies are better left unsaid, and please excuse my skepticism. The only thing that would have made this scene any more bizarre would have been if he’d actually been sporting a McGregor or Black Watch kilt.

If It’s Not Scottish, It’s Crap

With the sun setting, we decided to take our Great Dane puppy home. I walked home wondering whether these mutts were descendants from dogs in Robert the Bruce’s household.

I’m sure the other guy walked home thinking, as he regularly does, that when it comes to a dog, “if it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.”

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