Sunday, September 27, 2020

The story of the Faithful Hound

Today, I’d like to make all dog lovers happy by sharing the story of Gelert the Dog with you. It’s a classic Welsh tale of one man and his dog but the man involved is Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, no less.

So, Gelert is a legendary dog closely associated with the village of Beddgelert in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. Beddgelert literally translates as Gelert’s Grave and Gelert’s story is a variation on the “Faithful Hound” folk-tale motif. If you like, Gelert is Wales’ answer to Lassie.

On the grave of Gelert are two slate memorials, one in English and one in Welsh. The English reads:  

“In the 13th century Llewelyn, prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, ‘The Faithful Hound’, who was unaccountably absent.  On Llewelyn's return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince alarmed hastened to find his son, and saw the infant's cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood.  The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound's side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog's dying yell was answered by a child's cry.Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here".

Every year thousands of people visit the grave of this brave dog; slight problem however, is that the cairn of stones is actually less than 200 years old!
Nevertheless this story has great appeal. History and myth appear to have become a little confused when in 1793, a man called David Pritchard came to live in Beddgelert. He was the landlord of the Royal Goat Inn and knew the story of the brave dog and adapted it to fit the village, and so benefitted his trade at the inn.

He apparently invented the name Gelert, and introduced the name Llywelyn into the story because of the Prince’s connection with the nearby Abbey, and it was with the help of the parish clerk that Pritchard, not Llywelyn, raised the cairn!  Whether the story is based on legend, myth or history it is still an entertaining one.

Keeping with the dog theme, did you know that “greyhound” gets a mention in the Bible? We need to go to the book of Proverbs chapter 30 where we read:
“There are three things which are majestic in pace. Yes, four which are stately in walk:  a lion, which is mighty among beasts and does not turn away from any; a greyhound, a male goat also, and a king whose troops are with him.”

The first reference to dogs actually comes from the 2nd book of the Bible, Exodus: ‘But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.’.

I’d like to leave you today with the last reference to dogs in the Bible. It’s from the last book of the New Testament, Revelation. Jesus is speaking and says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

Dogs were seen as unclean animals and are represented as outside the city, because nothing unclean is allowed to enter. Only the righteous, those who believe in God, will enter Heaven and I trust that you are a believer and looking forward to being on the  inside.

Written by Nigel Binding for ‘Messages with Meaning’ and produced by Your542day 

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