Garden Forever
The Wolfhound Wreath by Carla Allen

They are a sign of cheerful welcome, these decorative hoops that have been hung near entrances through the centuries. The most accepted time of year for wreath hanging is during Christmas holidays but the past decade has seen the displaying of wreaths for every season. I'm delighted with the increasing popularity as I've been a wreath addict for years. I've coaxed driftwood, lupins, dried flowers, moss, saplings, vines, herbs and much more into oval and circular shapes. But by far the most unusual material I've worked with has to do with my Irish Wolfhound .....Ryley. It's a long story, so grab a cup of mulled cider and settle down to enjoy the "yarn" of the wolfhound wreath.

I saw my first Irish Wolfhound in my late teens and vowed that someday, somehow, I'd have a dog like that of my own. Recognised as the tallest of all breeds, Irish Wolfhounds amaze people with their great size and gentle strength. Capable of pursuing and killing wolves and larger game such as elk, these dogs have been cherished for centuries as faithful companions for children as well. In the fall of 1995 a gangly, fawn colored Irish Wolfhound puppy joined our household.

During the first few months in his new home, Ryley seemed to add pounds and inches to his large boned frame virtually overnight. As sometimes happens with large breeds, a few problems were experienced during his development. The nearest wolfhound owner at that time lived over 100 miles away. Worried and feeling a bit helpless, after making an appointment for the following day with the vet, I decided to search the Net.

The only helpful site was one created by Mardon Erbland in Newfoundland. He E-mailed my request for assistance to a wonderful woman in Florida who owned three of these dogs. Her advice was logical and proved to be correct - he was growing "too fast." The same diagnisis was provided by the Vet the next day and Ryley's minor problems were corrected with a switch to adult dog food and more exercise.

Over the next few months the Net was to develop into a valuable aid in my care of Ryley. Erbland, who used to own a wolfhound many years ago, expanded his webpage into an excellent I.W.F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions) site for those interested in the breed. Soon after, he arranged for a Wolfhound Listserve in which hundreds of admirers and/or owners of wolfhounds from all over the world could "post" email letters relating to the joys and sorrows of owning these unique animals. In a way this can be thought of as a discussion group with answers, questions and opinions being voiced on practically an hourly basis.

Belonging to the Irish Wolfhound Listserve has been a tremendous comfort to myself, as the owner of a rare breed in this region of the province. It's also given me a lot of laughs. Many of the contributors are very talented writers and as time passes, all of us are becoming acquainted with one another's personalities.

Two years ago the idea for the wolfhound wreath was born. Erbland was to be married that June, so I secretly contacted everyone else on the mailing list with a special request. Those who could participate were asked to mail me a handful of their wolfhound's hair the next time they brushed it.

Responses were received from B.C., Ontario, N.B., California, Florida, South Africa and other parts of the world. A lady in the N.W.T. whose dog had died two months before sent a money order to assist with the project.

My cousin Ivy brought her spinning wheel to our property and on a fine spring afternoon we mixed the hair thoroughly, then she carded and spun it into a skein of strong yarn. This was then woven into a grapevine wreath base. Dried herbs and flowers were added along with a few drops of essential oil to cover any doggy smells! A card listing the names of all the participants was enclosed and a translation for the various herbs with meanings completed the project. Erbland and his new wife were delighted with the gift. He emailed each participant individually to thank them and mounted a picture of the wreath on a website so those who could not see the finished product in person, could do so in this way.

Nothing beats the gift of giving. This Christmas season may you all experience the joy of having the gifts you give bring happiness to those you hold near and dear.

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The Wolfhound Wreath is a copyrighted article by the author, Carla Allen, who has kindly given Garden Forever permission to publish it on our website. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of Carla Allen is strictly forbidden.