A well travelled collie dog
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