When Douglass Montgomery, the former actor and Wanamaker's partner in wolfhounds, was living in London following World War II, he had his housekeeper, Maggie, take his wolfhound for a daily trot through Kensington Park. The dog not only strained at the leash, but he had the very doglike habit of sniffing every stranger close up. One afternoon as Maggie, a roly-poly north-of-England countrywoman, was being dragged through the park, a man in a bowler hat suddenly appeared. The man was an equerry for Queen Mary, who had stopped her Daimler upon sighting the huge creature. The door of the Daimler was wide open, and the Queen Mother was smiling and beckoning as the wolfhound surged forward to identify this interesting stranger. Maggie strained at the leash, praying, "Oh, God, don't let him do it to Queen Mary," as the dog lunged into the back seat. Fortunately, the Queen was so exquisitely perfumed that the wolfhound contented himself with a sniff of her face.
Ordinarily, wolfhounds are no more awed by speeding automobiles than by Queen Mary, and a good many have been sent from this world for refusing to yield the right of way. Samuel Ewing III, a Main Line breeder very active on the show circuit, attempts to make his dogs aware of the danger of cars by having a training period in which he bumps them with Volkswagens. Besides succumbing to cars, free-ranging wolfhounds have also been shot by excited hunters who think they've bagged a Kodiak bear in Connecticut. Because of this and the danger posed by cars, wolfhounds must have a fenced yard in which to play when out of the house. The fencing is also of some comfort to apprehensive deliverymen.
Sometimes, but not often, wolfhounds are used for the chase. Miss Croucher recalls one man who pursued lions with them in Africa. In India they have been used to hunt cheetahs. Last year a number of coursing hounds of all breeds were brought together in a meet outside Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Greyhounds, whippets, Salukis, deerhounds and Afghans all performed well in pursuit of a mechanical quarry. Only two wolfhounds were entered, one male and one female, but when they were unleashed the male ignored the quarry to chase the female.
Even as watchdogs Irish wolfhounds prefer to take a peaceful path. Instead of going for the throat of an unwelcome intruder in the slashing style of a Doberman or a German shepherd, a watching wolfhound will either restrain the prowler's movements by holding his arm firmly in a huge mouth or simply sit on him until the law arrives. Any injuries inflicted are psychological rather than physical, but it is the kind of thing that gives a second-story man second thoughts.