Scottish poet laureate Robert Burns is celebrated throughout the United Kingdom for his literary achievements, all of which he accomplished in a mere 37 years (including his most famous contribution, New Year’s favorite Auld Lang Syne!). But tonight while you scarf down haggis and swill yer whisky, don’t forget to toast Burns’ best friend and one of his greatest inspirations: his dog, Luath.
Among Burns’ greatest passions lay his Border Collie, Luath (Gaelic for “swift or nimble”). Burns and Luath were said to be inseparable, the pup always at his feet while he was writing. His pooch was even instrumental in the matchmaking of Burns and his wife, Jean Armour. Legend has it the two met when Luath tried to steal the laundry she was hanging, and this small interaction gave Burns the courage to talk to her.
Burns loved dogs as a whole, and incorporated them into several of his works, yet it is loyal Luath who is featured in one of Burns’ best known poems, illustrating the fierce love between dog and man.
Tragically, on the eve of his father’s funeral, Luath was killed. Burns’ brother said it was “by the wanton cruelty of some person.” Robert, distraught with grief for his beloved collie, penned “The Twa Dog“, with Luath as a main character.
Burns’ love for Luath and this famous poem would later be recognized around the world: