Anne Boleyn had a wolfhound called Urian and Norah Lofts, in her biography of Anne, cites this as one of the reasons why some people thought Anne was a witch. Apparently the wolfhound was her familiar. The dog was reported to be extraordinarily devoted to his mistress.Urian, according to Lofts, is one of the names for Satan and virtually unknown to the uninitiated. It is also quite a common name among seventeenth century Puritans which does tend to bely the Satanist theory.According to one internet source Urian was beheaded with his mistress, a spectacle which no contemporaneous report mentions. I do think they would have noticed.
In the year 1210, King John of England presented his son-in-law, Llywelyn prince of Gwynedd, with a hound which was ‘as gentle as a lamb’ at home, but ‘bold as a lion’ in the chase. One day Llywelyn went out on his hunt, but couldn’t find his favourite dog Gelert to take with him, so he went without the dog and caught nothing. Returning home, frustrated and angry by his lack of success, Llywelyn was greeted by Gelert at the gate. The Prince was startled to see that the dog’s fangs were dripping with blood.
Llywelyn had a son, a year old, with whom Gelert the dog used to play. Suddenly, a terrible thought crossed the Prince’s mind. He rushed in towards the child’s nursery only to find chaos and disorder everywhere. The child’s cradle was overturned and everything was splattered with blood. Terrified, Llywelyn sought his son but couldn’t find him anywhere, but only signs of a dreadful conflict. At last he felt sure the dog had destroyed his child. Shouting at Gelert, he drew out his sword, plunged it into the hound’s side and said, “Monster, you have destroyed my child”. The dog fell with a deep yell, still gazing into his master’s eyes.
As Gelert raised his dying yelp, a little child’s cry could be heard from beneath the cradle and there Llywelyn found his son unharmed, just awakened from sleep. Beside him lay the body of a great gaunt wolf, all torn to pieces. The brave dog Gelert had stayed behind from the hunt in order to guard the child, and had fought and slain the wolf that had tried to destroy Llywelyn’s heir. Imagine Llywelyn’s grief as he realised too late just what he had done. He had slain the saviour of his family.