The Mightiest Heart is a kids book by Lynn Cullen. It tells the tale of a loyal Irish Wolfhound, Gelert, to his master, Prince Llywelyn. One day Gelert stays behind while Prince Llywelyn goes hunting. When the Prince returns, Gelert is all bloody and his son is missing. He blames the dog who runs away only to rescue the Prince once more when he is in danger. The Prince finds his son and the body of a dead wolf nearby.
When the Llywelyn’s son grows up and finds a puppy (presumably Gelert’s child), the Prince tells him he may keep him only if “You never let him go.” He continues, “The mightiest heart can come in the humblest vessel.”
I have read this story before where instead of Gelert running away, the Prince kills the dog with his sword before he finds out his son is alive. This is the traditional tale. I like this version better merely because my daughter can’t stand it when animals die in stories but the traditional one is much more poignant.
It highlights how we all jump to conclusions, react when we shouldn’t, do things we shouldn’t, only to find out later we were wrong, and regret our choices made. I especially like this one because this dog had shown no reason to doubt it in the past and yet our human mind still thinks the worst.
This is based on a true story. The Prince really lived in the twelfth and thirteenth century and he had an Irish Wolfhound named Gelert. In fact, the town of Beddgelert in Wales, United Kingdom is named for the dog where an actual grave site exists purported to be the resting spot of the real Gelert. Fascinating stuff.
Irish Wolfhounds were prized in the Middle Ages for their hunting capabilities and given to royalty as gifts.
Dog owners know how loyal dogs are and uncharacteristic behavior usually has a very good reason behind it.
Personally, I like this tale because we almost got Irish Wolfhounds instead of English Mastiffs. They are one of my favorite breeds and are still on my short list of dogs to own in the future. I love loyal breed dogs, guard dogs, and big dogs–all of which describe these breeds best.
Here’s a link to the story with photos of the grave: