Wow, to be a dog living on the Isle of Eigg! They really have it good here. These canine residents enjoy a sense of freedom. I have not seen a single dog on a lead. One often sees them playing by the sea bounding about with a lot of energy which I can testify is part due to the cleaner, fresher air on Eigg. These lovable creatures are very trusting of everyone and are super friendly. Comically enough, they appear to be always smiling much like many of the human residents on the island!
We made friends with many dogs here when our family visited last August, but two dogs in particular stood out for me. First there was Moss. Moss belongs to the owner of Eigg’s only shop and luxury restaurant. Moss is a sweet small collie who never got tired of playing fetch or tug-of-war…or rather she got tired but refused to give up. She followed us to the house we stayed in and played with us for hours in the garden.
Then there is Faolan (pronounced Foo-lan and is Gaelic for Little Wolf). Faolan would meet us at the top of the path leading to Laig Beach and accompany us down to the beach to play fetch.
However, he didn’t do this with just us. He seemed to play with every visitor who went to the beach. Faolan is an interesting dog. He wasn’t affectionate, he just wanted to play. I guess he was used to people coming and going that he didn’t allow himself to get too attached. There was a look of intelligence about him. His beautiful amber eyes would gaze deeply into my eyes as if he was trying to communicate telepathically. He and I would play for quite a while on the beach until he would suddenly decide he had enough and then quickly leave me. He’s a sort of independent dog who seems to make his own decisions and everyone else just has to work around him. I love dogs in general but as crazy as this may sound, he almost seemed like an evolved dog or even a dog who chose to be a dog but on his own terms. I found him quite fascinating. So you could imagine how I felt on my first day back on Eigg, when I saw Faolan again by the road near the Laig Beach path.
This time however, it was a whole different story. When he saw me, his tail began wagging and he walked over to me with a grin (I am not kidding!) and greeted me with a nuzzle. I like to think he actually remembered me and because I came back, I no longer had ‘stranger’ status. We were now old friends. After meeting again for the first time in two months, I was now permitted to pet him.
I had the privilege of playing on the beach with Faolan a few times last week. However, a couple of times, I would find him already engaged in play with some other visitor. Which leads me to the reason why I see something a bit more in Faolan than other dogs. On one particular day, I went down to the beach and Faolan was playing with a man and his little girl. When Faolan saw me, he bounded up to me smiling (again dogs do smile!) and stood in front of me looking me in the face for a few seconds and then turned around and bounded off to play with the little girl and her father. I understood what Faolan was saying to me. It was so well communicated that I am sure he said something like this:
‘Hi there! I just came over to make sure I greet you so you don’t feel I am ignoring you or anything, but I have a promise to keep to these other people. You see I have already started playing with them and it would go against my sense of loyalty to abandon these nice people. However, I see you and acknowledge you and maybe we can play later if we’re both free.’
I understood of course and I caught up with him on another day.