On Burns Night, Don’t Forget to Honour Luath, the Literary Dog

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 tomorrow night while you scarf down haggis and swill ale, don’t forget to toast Burns’ best friend and one of his greatest inspirations: his dog, Luath.

bobby burnsImage via

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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 1.14.53 PMImage via Flickr/antydiluvian

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:

Commissioned by the Burns Memorial Association of Boston, Massachusetts, the statue of Luath at Burns’ side is nestled in Winthrop Square. Luath is looking out, protecting Burns.

burnsImage via Waymarking.

In Australia, you can find another a memorial of Luath seated at Burns’ side on Sturt Street in Ballarat, Victoria. Luath is looking at his owner with all the love in the world! It’s rumored to be the first statue of any poet down under, and a famous pup is apart of it!

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 1.25.01 PMImage via Flickr/raaen99

And in Burns’ native Scotland, outside historic Greyfriars in Dumfries, you can find Luath sweetly laying at his owner’s feet.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 1.35.35 PMImage via Flickr/[email protected]

So tomorrow night, when you raise your glass to Robert Burns, think of Luath also. Our furry best friends do more than love us; sometimes they inspire us to greatness, too. Cheers to all literary pooches!

Dr. Katy Nelson

7 years ago

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