I wanted a Wolfhound and had put the word out to loads of rescue centres and registered with the Wolfhound Rescue Trust. Everyone told me the same thing; they don't come up very often; which is good news. Then one Wednesday in June 1995, a day I'd taken off to go diving but was at home because the dive had been cancelled, the phone rang. It was Wood Green asking if I still wanted a Wolfhound? Yes I did. Did I want two? Errrrrrr. The deal was that they had two 2 year old Wolfhound brothers, and they were to be kept together because they got extremely distressed if separated (they did – as a door in my house still bears testament to). The fatal mistake was made; I went to see them. Wood Green got them on Tuesday, rang me on Wednesday, did the home check on Thursday, and the Big Beasts were at home on Friday.
They were originally called Trent and Kingston, which I didn't like and they didn't respond to. A friend had two Golden Retrievers, Moët and Chandon, so stealing the concept they became Beamish and Murphy. Although brothers they were as different as chalk and cheese.
Beamish was an extremely handsome hound, and knew it; a real prima donna. He hated being brushed, trimmed, and would often need coaxing to get him out for a walk; if it was raining there was no chance; while out for a walk he might run a bit if he could be bothered. Yet he was never overweight and always in good health. He was a big (and I do mean BIG) dog. He weighed 98.4kg (that's 15½ stone or 217 lbs in old money) and stood just over a meter high to his shoulder; if he stood on his back legs would look me (1.9m – 6′ 3¾″ tall) in the face. Although large, he was the gentlest of animals, and from time to time acted as an activity playground for the hamster. If he'd rolled over, or even put his paw on it, it would have been a flat hamster, but he never did. And he made an excellent card table.
Beamish was a lap dog. His modus operandi was to sit on on the sofa next to you – a Wolfhound sitting on the sofa is not the same a most hounds, when a Wolfhound sits on the sofa their backside is on the sofa, front paws on the floor and back legs sticking out – then lean over onto you; depending on how fas away the sit was you either got his head or upper torso in your lap.
Surprisingly it was Beamish that died first, in December 2001, from acute pneumonia, which the vet told me is a very common cause of death in older large dogs.