Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ seems apposite for the position we are in. It concerns making choices and the poet not being decisive about making his choice. Does the poet sigh with regret or relief looking back at his decision? - a decision which could not apparently be changed and certainly seemed to have made all the difference.
There is an important decision for change to be made now. We can continue with the choice that was made in the nineteenth century when the ideology was of a Great Britain with Scotland as North Britain. There was no South Britain and the choice of the name for the breed reflected that situation. Mr James Cummings of ‘O’ the Pentlands’ had a copy of Cupples’s Scotch Deerhounds and their Masters (1894) on which he stamped his address ‘The View, Carlops, By Penicuik, NB’, signing his name and dating it 1926. He was clearly proud of the heritage of the breed and of Britishness.
How people see themselves and the world around them is, however, constantly being re-defined. The petition reflects the desire to move from how things were to how things are. This is not to deny the past but to move forward from it. Britishness is still politically important now but has no relationship to the re-designation of the breed one way or the other.
One of the most interesting things to emerge from the petition is how surprised and even shocked some people are that the breed can neither be registered nor shown as a ‘Scottish Deerhound’ in the UK - and that the breed club does not carry the Scottish designation. However, the breed club is in itself an historic entity and there is no reason why its tradition should not continue as it is.
There are, of course, other reasons for the current breed name concerning both history and discourse which are also important in understanding the original designation of the breed. The petition has shown that the re-designation of the breed is supported world-wide – a vote of confidence which is much appreciated. We are certainly not dithering as Robert Frost seemed to be. We are on the right path for the future, while continuing to honour the past for its great service to the breed.
Your continuing support will be much appreciated in 2016.
A Happy New Year! The Scottish Deerhound Support Group