Monday, March 30, 2020

Edward Albee and His Wolfhounds

Excerpts from Paws and Reflect

Here is another excerpt from this wonderful anthology, this one from award-winning playwright Edward Albee.

I BECAME INTERESTED in Irish Wolfhounds because a friend had one. He was a painter. He had invited me over to look at his canvases, and this dog came up and leaned against me. I sat down to look at a painting, and he sat down and looked with me. We moved out to his studio to look at another painting, and this big dog sat down next to me again.

We went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, and he stuck to my side. He had this big head, and wherever I sat, he put his head on my knee and looked up at me with his big, dark eyes. We became very good friends. He was the dog that introduced me to Irish Wolfhounds. They are the loveliest of creatures. I decided I had to have one. That was in 1969.

I’d always been a dog lover. Whenever I visit someone who owns a dog, pretty soon the animal of the house has drifted over to sit near me. People are always telling me, “This animal doesn’t like anybody—I don’t know why he’s so taken with you.” Animals and I just seem to get along.

I’ve had as many as three Irish Wolfhounds at a time. The Wolfhound breed is very special to me, but I like all dogs. At one time I had three Irish Wolfhounds, one Lhasa Apso, and one cat.

Irish Wolfhounds were originally bred to hunt wolves. We don’t have a lot of wolves in Montauk, so they’re not going after their natural prey. But their hunting nature is always with them. They are indefatigable. They can run forever.

Back when the Romans first came to Ireland, they took some of the early Irish Wolfhounds back to Rome with them and paraded them around. I wanted to parade mine around in New York. I got big leather collars for them. 

We would go to Central Park and walk to a huge hill. The dogs and I would stand at the top. The hill sloped down before us for about 300 yards. If they saw a squirrel at the bottom of the hill, they would race down it, knocking over people and bicyclists on their way. They just had to chase the squirrel. It was inconvenient for the people, but the dogs loved it.

I’ve gotten each dog from a different breeder. I make my choice on the personality of the puppy: Accessibility—a dog that’s not frightened of people. Alert. Sensitive. My Wolfhounds, in particular, have always been thoughtful, generous and intelligent—qualities that really mark the breed.

When I pick a dog, I want one that is both fully an animal, with animal instincts and one that relates to other animals, and one that is fond of being around people. I find that Wolfhounds satisfy both requirements.

Want to read more? Paws and Reflect is available from Amazon or other e-retailers.

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