The Feral Muse (2)

By: Matthew Battles
May 27, 2011

In the winter of 1784, a dog of this kind was left by a smuggling vessel, near Boomer, on the coast of Northumberland. Finding himself deserted, he began to worry sheep; and did so much damage, that he became the terror of the country, within the circuit of above twenty miles.

When he caught a sheep, he bit a hole in its right side, and after eating the tallow about the kidneys, left it: several of them, thus lacerated, were found alive by the shepherds, and being taken proper care of, some of them recovered, and afterwards had lambs.

From his delicacy in this respect, the destruction he made may in some measure be conceived: as it may be supposed, that the fat of one sheep a day would hardly satisfy his hunger. The farmers were so much alarmed by his depredations, that various means were used for his destruction.

They frequently pursued him with hounds, greyhounds, &c. but when the dogs came up with him, he laid down on his back, as if supplicating for mercy; and in that position they never hurt him; he therefore laid quietly, taking his rest till the hunters approached, when he made off without being followed by the hounds, till they were again excited to the pursuit, which always terminated unsuccessfully.

And it is worthy of notice, that he was one day pursued from Howick to upwards of thirty miles distance; but returned thither and killed sheep the same evening. His constant residence, during the day, was upon a rock on the Heugh-hill, near Howick, — where he had a view of four roads that approached it: and in the spring of 1785, after many fruitless attempts, he was at last shot there.

— from “The Greenland Dog,” in The New-York Reader no. 3 (Samuel Wood & Sons, 1815). Image: Grønlandshund’s scelet (1) by Petr Brož.

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