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The Ancient Connection Between Corgis and Fairies

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When one thinks of corgis, the first thing to come to mind may very well be, “Isn’t that the breed of dog the Queen of England really likes?” That’s true, of course. But there are plenty of other fun facts to file away about the fluffy canines. For example: Fairies used to ride them into battle.

That’s if you believe Welsh legend, anyway. According to the stories, a pair of corgis—specifically, the breed known as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, as opposed to the Cardigan Welsh Corgi—were gifted to two human children by the “wee folk,” who used them for any number of tasks.

The diminutive dog breed was said to have been handy for pulling the fairies’ carts and carriages, as well as for riding into battle. Though the most commonly-told tale of the discovery of corgis has human children stumbling across the dogs—whom they at first assumed to be foxes—another version tells of a battle between two warring fairy tribes, the Tywyth Teg and the Gwyllion, which resulted in the deaths of two of the Tywyth Teg.

Two children happened upon the Tywyth Teg funeral procession and were gifted the departed warriors’ noble steeds to help with their herding. As the dogs were passed on to the children, a representative of the Tywyth Teg spoke fondly of the dogs’ talents. “They are trained warriors in their own right,” he supposedly said. “But they are more than warriors: they are great helpers for the faerie folk.” The diminutive dogs were perfect for herding cows, he explained; Their short stature kept them out of the way of flying hooves when they nipped at angry cows’ heels.

The corgi’s battle-forged origin explains a few things about the high-energy breed. First off is the name: gi is dog in Welsh, and cor is dwarf, so corgi is literally “dog of the dwarfs.” Many corgis have a darker patch of fur under their shoulders that even today is sometimes known as the “fairy saddle.” And if corgis have a tendency to get nippy, well, that’s because fairies don’t really give gifts without strings attached. Outfitting a corgi with a collar that has some iron or steel, it is said, will keep the corgi from biting its owner, as fairies are naturally averse to those metals.

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

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