Friday, March 23, 2007

Ravenswood Stories: Pig Dog

In Ravenswood, really good sheep dogs are sometimes called "Pig Dogs". When asked to explain this eccentric name, the shepherds tell this story:

The Story of the Pig Dog

Once there was a Shepherd, who had seven daughters; and he also had a dog. One day, when the dog was very young, a caravan of traders came into town. One of the women was pregnant, and the dog, excited by all the strangers, tried to herd her. As might be expected, she went into labour.

The husband was angry and wanted the dog killed. The Shepherd served up a dinner of lamb, and, as the midwife was at hand and both wife and daughter lived, the Trader was mollified and they parted on, if not good terms, at least on speaking terms.

Five years went by, and the dog became the best sheepdog anyone in Ravenswood could remember. The Shepherd was able to convince some of the families of his daughter's sweethearts to let them marry, by offering a litter of puppies in the dowry. His youngest daughter received a litter of seven puppies, one of which was bought by a Prince and taken on a voyage to the Cinnamon Islands. But that's another story.

One day, the traders returned to town, but the daughter of the trader had gone missing in the wood. All the villagers went out searching for her. Eventually the Shepherd's dog found her, treed by a wild pig. The pig was in a rage, but the dog nipped at it's heels and drew it away, so the girl could be rescued.

The Trader was grateful to the Shepherd and the Dog, and, remembering the lamb dinner, paid the hunters to kill the wild pig and held a feast to celebrate. Even the dogs got their share of the lights, ears and brawn. And the Trader said "This dog is famed as a great sheepdog, but I will always remember it as a great Pig Dog."