Today, February 26, is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day, and we can’t think of a better way to honor it than by sharing a tale involving a beloved breed.
A very long time ago in the ancient days of Wales, fairies were more common than they are now. Some fairies were Y Tylwyth Teg, or fair folk that typically lived in hollows. Some were Gwragedd Annwn, water fairies who lived in towns and villages beneath lakes. Some were Coblynau, friendly fairies of Welsh mines, some were beautiful lake fairies known as Plant Annwn, and others were Gwyllion, frightful haglike fairies that haunted lonely mountain roads. There were many more, of course, but these are the only ones we’re mentioning now.
All fairies could fly, but most lacked the stamina to fly for very long, let alone the wing strength to fly very far. To reach distant lands, the fairies created a travel companion, a creature who could provide amiable companionship while being ridden like a horse. We would recognize the creature as a dog.
One blustery day, the Queen and King of the fairies were riding their dogs on a new way home, and as they came around a bend, they spotted a family of humans in a field, some bent over as they dug, other grunting as they plowed. It was hard, laborious work that had to be done just to keep themselves fed. Every time the King and Queen rode past the field in the coming weeks, they saw the same family toiling away. There was little time for them to rest, and even less time to enjoy life.
The King and Queen were compassionate fairies, and felt great pity for the poor humans, but on one occasion, the King fell off his dog when he was particularly distracted by the depressing scene before him. Concerned for her partner, the Queen quickly dismounted her own dog to tend to the King. Happily, both the fairy King and Queen were fine, but the dogs never noticed that their riders had fallen off, and both continued riding off into the sunset, chattering away between themselves.
Greatly worried about the dogs getting lost, the King immediately called for a search party to bring the two back. The Queen, however, stopped him. “There’s no need,” she said. “The dogs will find mortal humans who may need them more than us.” The dogs eventually wandered into the poor family’s farm where the delighted children brought them into home to show their parents and ask, “Can we keep them?” They parent knew instantly, of course, that these strange and magical animals were gifts from the fairies of the woods.
And this is how Pembroke Welsh Corgis became invaluable helpers on the farm, and have come to be cherished by all the people of Wales, as well as the lucky humans in other lands who own them. This is also explains the swath of white hair that circles a Pemmie’s shoulders and backs: It’s where fairies tied their harnesses and saddles to the dogs.
If you like this tale, you might enjoy the one below, and if you like both, consider buying us a cup of coffee!
Top image: “Corgi With Fairies” Watercolor by Nancy J. Bailey is available as a greeting card here