There is an old legend which dates back to the early 1800s telling of a large dog with a rough grey coat and an unearthly wailing bark that appears to descendants from the Morar MacDonalds at the point of death.
The tale begins with a young Highlander called Dugald MacDonald, the young man owned a deerhound which he loved very much. Like other young men at this time Dugald was called off to war. He was away from his home and his faithful dog for several years. When finally he returned home his neighbours told him that his beloved dog had left home and was living wild on an island in the middle of a small loch, high among the hills. Also in the time he had been away his deerhound had given birth to four pups. The pups were now almost fully grown. Dugald was warned that due to heir lack of human contact they were so savage that it was unsafe to go anywhere near them.
Dugald ignored the warning and set of to visit the hill-loch, the only way to get to the island was to swim. Dugald desperate to be reunited with his dog swam over to the island. When he arrived on the island he managed to locate the dogs lair in the heather. The deerhound was away and her pups, on hearing him approach, emerged and tore him to pieces. When the deerhound returned and saw what had happened to her master, her howls of agony brought the folk of the glen to the scene. The pups were speedily hunted out and killed and Dugald’s body was laid to rest in the little burial-ground at the mouth of the Meoble River.
Legend has it the deerhound began a lonely and pathetic vigil, frequently waking the neighbourhood with her mournful howling as she watched over her master’s grave, until one day she was discovered lying stretched out dead beside it.
For long afterwards the story of her watch over the grave was talked about through the district, but gradually, with the passage of time, it was largely forgotten, until one of Dugald’s brothers became seriously ill at Rifern, a small crofting township lying across the river from the grave-yard. One night the ghost of the deerhound appeared at his bedside. It looked at him for several minutes, then gave a terrible cry and disappeared. A little later the man died. The spectre of the Grey Dog had made its first appearance.
Another account of the ghostly deerhound appearing happens to an old Highland lady who lived in Glasgow in the early 1900s and whose family were closely related to the MacDonalds of Meoble. The old woman lived alone, confined to her room for many years and a friend who lived across the street was in the habit of calling each day to attend to her needs. On one occasion as the friend was leaving the flat, a large dog, of a type she had never seen before, passed her on the stairs. She thought no more about it until the following day when, much to her surprise, she saw it again, this time lying on the old lady’s doorstep. With difficulty she pushed it aside and went in. In the course of the conversation, she happened to mention the dog. Her friend sat up in bed her eyes alight. When asked to describe the dog she replied:
“it was very large, around the size of a Shetland pony, it was grey with a long curly tail.”
‘”Ah!” exclaimed the old lady with a smile of contentment on her lips. “The faithful friend – she came at last.” And with that she sank back on her pillow and passed away.