Gordon G Hall
Writer and Neo-Philhellene

The Flatcoat Fables
'Twas ever Thus


Merlin 'bye

Now whilst we are all entirely clear about the general development of the three Retriever breeds of Labrador, Golden and Flatcoat I have been taken to task by my co-author for failing to explain 'The Quest' - by which she means the trauma that our three developing puppies experienced as the character of their breed was truely established.
Although the exact moment it happened is lost in the mists of time I rather think that it was shortly before the 6 Month (1920! stage. Our three puppies had spent the day romping around, as young folk will, when their dam, the universal mother of our breeds, called them to her. "There comes a time" she said, "when you have to seek your own way in the world. It is a harsh place, and getting worse by the year (and MacDonalds hadn't even been invented then!) and you will need Courage and Forbearance and Loyalty to sustain you, but you will also need that Special Something that makes you the dog that you really are. This Special Something is already within you, but to find it you will need to travel far and suffer much - you, my puppies, must undertake the 'Quest'

So the Lab Pup packed his map and compass, and the Golden Pup packed his oldest bone and his newest pillow and the Flatcoat Pup found her most bouncy tennis ball and off they went into the great Wide Blue Yonder. At the foot of the Great Mountains they came upon the kennel of Wise Old Hound. "You must cross the highest peaks" he growled, "and travel through the territories of the wildest wolves. You must swim the fiercest torrents, and all this will be easy - but you must also meet Man, and that is the sternest test of all for Man is more daunting than the peaks, more ravenous than the wolves and more destructive than the fastest river."

Ball-leap Well for many weeks they travelled. Lab Pup navigated them all the way with great care and great skill through unmapped mountains and unexplored valleys. Golden Pup parlayed with the Wicked Wolves charming them with his easy wit and honest manner so that they allowed the three pups to pass through their lands. And all the while Flatcoat Pup ran back and forth encouraging her companions in times of trouble, amusing them in times of depression and fearlessly swimming the rushing mighty waters (all the while holding her tennis ball).

roll The three became the greatest of friends and they all developed Courage and Forbearance and Loyalty. So at last they came again to the soft lush meadows, the quiet-flowing rivers and the villages of Man.

Man welcomed the pups into his houses and amongst his children and there they stayed for one whole lunar month. Lab Pup told Man-children the story of their adventures and he showed them how to find their way safely from place to place and he was a popular pup! Golden Pup let the Man-children ride on his back and he let the Man-babies pull his tail, and he was the friendliest of pups. And Flatcoat Pup did back somersaults and carried three tennis balls in her mouth and rolled upside down with the Man-children in the hay-grass - and she was the happiest of pups.

wise counsel At the fullness of the moon the three pups were summoned before the Wisest Man. "Pups", he said,"you have all developed Courage and Forbearance and Loyalty and that is how it should be from All Dogs, but you are Special Breeds and have each found that Special Something that makes Man want you in his houses and in his village"

"Lab Pup", said the Wisest Man "You have done well, I grant you the attribute of Universal Popularity, you will for all time be a popular breed". And Lab Pup looked very important and pushed out his barrel chest and stuck his tail a little further in the air - and ever after was universally popular.

"Golden Pup", said the Wisest Man "You are the kindest of pups and I grant you the gift of Absolute Friendliness, everyone will forever be your friend". And Golden Pup put his heavy head between his paws and wagged his bushy tail and was from that day on always everybody's friend.


"Flatcoat Pup", said the Wisest Man, and there was perhaps a twinkle in his rheumy old eyes, "you are a looney pup, to you I offer Eternal Happiness, from now on you will make everyone you meet as happy as you are! " And Flatcoat pup leapt three feet up in the air and caught a passing tennis ball, and Flatcoat Pup did three back somersaults running, and Flatcoat Pup smiled that special Flatcoat Smile that only Flatcoats smile - and she was forever Happy.

So, oh long-suffering reader, as your Flatcoat smiles at you and as you, of course, smile back you now know why you feel so happy!


  I am indebted to Rieko Mamaoto for her charming illustrations
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Distant Fells
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