A well trav­elled col­lie dog

The Oban Times - - Community News -

THE HOM­ING in­stincts of dogs, es­pe­cially col­lies, are leg­endary, but the dog in the fol­low­ing story, sent to me by a cor­re­spon­dent in Oban, must have been ex­cep­tional.

The tale be­gan on the south shores of Loch Su­nart when the ten­ant of Lau­dale es­tate, the late John An­drew Fletcher, found one his col­lies wor­ry­ing sheep so he de­cided to dis­pose of it.

On his way down to the shore with his gun he met one of the crew of a Clyde fish­ing boat that had come into the loch for shel­ter dur­ing a spell of bad weather. Dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, the crew­man asked Mr Fletcher what he was do­ing that morn­ing. When he heard that the dog was des­tined to be shot he asked if he could have it as he liked the look of it.

The weather abated and the fish­ing boat de­parted for its home port. As it en­tered the River Clyde the dog, de­cid­ing it did not like the sea or the look of its new sur­round­ings, leapt over­board and swam ashore. Three weeks later it turned up on the doorstep of Lau­dale house. Per­haps it knew the rea­son for its ban­ish­ment be­cause it never again wor­ried sheep.

The Fletch­ers were a Mull fam­ily from Lochdonhead well-known for their knowl­edge of sheep and cat­tle. They came to Morvern in 1871 to man­age Glen­cripes­dale es­tate for three broth­ers from Birm­ing­ham, Wil­liam, Ho­race and Thomas Henry New­ton - the first two were Church of Eng­land cler­gy­men - who con­sid­ered buy­ing the is­land of Lis­more, but had the good sense to re­alise the dis­ad­van­tages of hav­ing a hol­i­day re­treat so close to bur­geon­ing Oban and quickly moved on.

John An­drew Fletcher took over the ten­ancy and fac­tor­ship of Lau­dale from his fa­ther, Archibald, who died in 1903. Be­tween them, fa­ther and son es­tab­lished a fold of High­land cat­tle whose strain is still to be found among some of the best pedi­gree herds in Europe. John An­drew died in 1948 and his ashes were scat­tered on the ridge above Lau­dale house.

The Fletch­ers must have lived on Mull for gen­er­a­tions be­cause an ar­range­ment ex­isted be­tween them and the Cur­ries, another very old lo­cal fam­ily, that when a Fletcher died the Cur­ries were to have the first ‘lift’ of the cof­fin and the same when a Cur­rie died, the Fletch­ers were to have the same right.

The cus­tom, a bond, was ap­par­ently the out­come of a fight to the death be­tween a Fletcher and a Cur­rie alone on a hill­side on Mull many cen­turies ago.

HIS­TORIC: Lau­dale House, home to the Fletcher fam­ily

and the trav­el­ling col­lie dog

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