Scottish Deerhound Day of Diva

By DuncanRhys C. Liancourt

––My dog stopped in the midst of our morning walk and refused to budge. When I let go of the leash for a moment to get a tissue from my coat pocket (bloody, vile, tedious winter) she began walking, but when I again took hold of the leash she froze. My dog, Rhonwyn, will never win an obedience award but she is well trained for a pet and generally does what I say. Also, she knows the routine, has always been fine with it, and understands how singularly important it is that her daddy get his medicine.

You might think her refusing to walk rather trivial and you may suggest I simply pull her along, and I would gladly do so in order to complete the morning walk and get my double espresso, aka medicine. Rhonwyn is, however, freakishly strong. She is a power-racing model. She sports 22 inch front legs and 28 inch back legs, and can gnaw on my belt buckle––if she reaches down a bit. When she plants her forepaws (designed for traction on very rugged moors and heaths), and leans back on her locked back legs (designed to launch her after cervine prey at greyhound speeds) she becomes a statue, 75 pounds of limb, tail, and snout with no convenient handholds.

Anyway, this leash scenario was repeated with Rhonwyn walking–when walking­–trippingly, making manifest that she was in perfect health. What, I wondered, could have brought on this surge of prideful obstinacy? Suddenly it was clear to me, even without my medicine: Rhonwyn had gone Diva. In case you do not follow dog news, the Westminster Dog Show was held on Monday and Tuesday nights. The Scottish deerhound, a breed present at the first show 135 years ago, won, for the first time ever, Best in Show. Rhonwyn is a Scottish deerhound. Ergo, my wee lass was full of her self.

I sense your incredulity for I felt it too. I shook off the idea mostly because I could not imagine how Rhonwyn could be privy to this information since we did not even see the end of the show. I shared the exciting news with her, of course, but rest assured that though I might allow that had she been in front of the TV when this occurred she might have both recognized her kind and picked on the excitement, I am not of that breed of pet owners who credit their animals with human comprehension. Yet as the day wore on the evidence mounted.

At breakfast, Rhonwyn normally stands beside our other dogs, but on this morning, after looking at the food, she looked up, then went over to her dog bed and lay down. She did not go to sleep, however, but kept her head lifted and her eyes on me. I called her to no avail and finally, when the others had finished and would have begun on her portion, I brought the bowl to her. Without its holder it slid all over the place so I was forced to kneel beside her to hold the bowl in place while she ate.

Occasionally Rhonwyn spends part of the day at the office. It has always been her habit, upon arriving at Sametz Blackstone, to make the rounds, greeting everyone. She caresses elbows, scooches into armpits, tickles ears, and puts coffee cups in danger of toppling as she sweeps her snout along desk-tops, trading her nuzzles for scratches and pats. On this day she made rounds, but with a twist. She simply stood beside each person, poking and nudging as needed until they began to pet her, and as soon as they made contact she sauntered away as their hands fell from her flanks. I was told that she swiped a cookie, but am inclined to suspect that person of having eaten it and forgotten; Rhonwyn doesn’t pinch food.

The walk home took much longer than usual; there were many long pauses, seemingly at each and every storefront. Rhonwyn could not have been checking her appearance in the plate glass windows, could she? Once we’d gotten home, me insisting on the leash only for the busy intersection, I stopped out front to chat with a neighbor. Rhonwyn rarely barks, but she moved forward until her muzzle was inches from the door and barked, twice. I excused my self with a slightly embarrassed expression and we went in. She found her favorite blue, rubber bone and tossed it toward me so we began playing. On her second toss the bone landed, as it sometimes does, under a table. She usually loves to fish it out her self as part of the game, but this time she waited imperiously for me to retrieve it. I did, but when I threw it she turned up her nose and pranced upstairs where I soon found her on the only sofa we designate off limits to pets.

Once I’d gone to bed, and Rhonwyn had left her bed, where she usually sleeps, to land hard on my shins, I began to review the events of that day, the day after Hickory the deerhound’s historic win at Westminster. I thought of Dorothy Parker’s line: “Why, that dog is practically a Phi Beta Kappa. She can sit up, and beg, and she can give her paw –– I don’t say she will but she can.” Dogs are enigmatic. Why did they hitch their fortunes to ours so long ago? That they chose us and not the reverse most scientists agree. I began this memoirette, in customary fashion, with “my dog,” but if I had begun to cling too dearly to that construction, if I had begun to believe the words, perhaps Rhonwyn thought the day after her sister’s triumph was the perfect moment to remind me of a timeless truth. Our dogs let us enter them in contests, and they dutifully trot around the ring, but it is we who perform. I am Rhonwyn’s person and proud of it. I hope, however, that dog people will excuse my not wishing a win for my other dog’s breed next year. Gruffydd, my 145-pound nervous Irish wolfhound going diva would surely do me in.

7 Responses to “Scottish Deerhound Day of Diva”
  1. Janet says:

    David and I did watch Westminster – both nights. And we were cheering Hickory on the whole way – which is to say we were really cheering Rhonwyn on as she is the only Scottish Deerhound I actually know. Such a beautiful and regal dog. She deserves her Diva moment — and I dare say you might just be going a little Diva along with her!

  2. Clare Keller says:

    Well, of course. The rest of the world is protesting and claiming rights, why not Rhonwyn? We might be better off if the dogs ran the world. Perhaps your two can form a new party to unseat the tea party. She obviously has a social networking system that is more sophisticated than twitter and facebook; more power to her!

  3. Rhonda Pickens says:

    Everyone deserves a diva day now & then. By the way everyone, if you missed it you can see it anytime at

  4. Kaitie says:

    I love that diva Rhonwyn! She would own a dog show…if she felt like entering. On the other hand, I can’t imagine anything Gruffydd would like less than having a large room full of people looking at him. That might be his very definition of hell.

  5. Good for her AND you. I love this dog!

    Missed the show though.


  6. Seashell says:

    Congrats to Rhonwyn for her breed doing so well. Unfortunately, I missed the whole show. She deserves a little diva time.

    I like the way you feel you are her person and not her owner. I firmly believe that dogs do “let us” do what we want to do with them. I don’t mind that. I’m just happy they let us into their lives.
    ~ shell

  7. Laura says:

    Awww. She’s pretty, though.

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