A-chasing the Wild deer, and Following the Roe

Ponder upon this Robert Burns poem and see if it doesn’t conjure up for you images of Scottish Deerhounds standing tall and dignified as they overlook the misty highlands and fog-covered moors:

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer –

A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North
The birth place of Valour, the country of Worth;

Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

Farewell to the mountains high cover’d with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;

Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer

Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.”

Being the “Royal dog of Scotland” meant that only men holding the rank of an earl were allowed to own a Scottish Deerhound, and this restriction lasted well into the 1700s. The Scottish Highlands were the last bastion of healthy Deerhound numbers because the Highlands were the last piece of geography where deer still lived as wild animals, and thus, were hunted by Deerhounds. It probably didn’t help the breed that Highland Chieftains felt they were privy to exclusive Deerhound ownership, and it became all but impossible to find a Deerhound south of Scotland’s Central Belt.

As we mentioned in an earlier post about the Flat-Coated Retriever whose development was rooted in technological advances, technology also impacted the Deerhound, but not in a good way. The modern rifle helped nudge the breed into a more precarious state since its use eliminated the need for a big dog able to run down and grab prey.

The living symbol of the Highlands, Alba, and Ancient Caledonia deserved better.

On a cheerier note, we conclude with a clip from the wonderful computer-animated fantasy drama from 2012 – and yes, there’s a Deerhound in it:

Image: “Foghound” by Rosalind Trigg
http://www.nobledogs.com

2 thoughts on “A-chasing the Wild deer, and Following the Roe”

    • We will, Leigh! We are lucky enough to know some Scottish Deerhound folks, and luckier still to have accompanied Westminster Best in Show winner, Hickory, on her media tour the day after her fabulous win. What a terrifically sweet dog she was.

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