Sunday, January 31, 2010

We're on a DIET!

Mom thinks we might be getting a little pudgy, especially me, so she made us all go on a diet.  And Mom is trying to be on a diet, too.  None of us likes being on a diet because it's lots more fun to eat as much of everything as we want to.  Mom thinks that we are gaining weight because we don't get much exercise these days, due to the bad weather.  And also we changed to a new food which is called EVO Herring and Salmon, and maybe Mom is giving us more of it than we should get.  So now she has cut our rations back, and also we get fewer treats.  We are not horribly fat or anything like that, so it's not like Mom is starving us, but still it's no fun to have to eat less.

Friday night on Dogtown, which is one of my very favorite TV shows, as you know, they had a chihuahua/pug mix named Tuli who was really fat.  Tuli weighed 11 pounds, and the vet thought she should only weigh about 8 pounds.  So she had to go on a diet and get different food and eat carrots for treats and go for walks every day.  And after doing all that for quite a while, she lost weight, so the vet said it was okay for her to be adopted, and this nice lady adopted her and talked about how she had to be careful to keep Tuli from getting fat again because Tuli liked to do stuff like eat the cats' food.

The vet on Dogtown talked about how it's not healthy for dogs to be fat.  If they are just sort of fat, it's called being "overweight," but if they are really fat, it's called being "obese."  So I did a little research on the topic of fat dogs, and now I'm going to tell you what I learned.

Most of the websites I looked at said that about 25% of dogs in the U.S. are too fat, but one site said it might be more like 40% or 50%.  This is a really high number, and it just goes to show that dogs really enjoy eating, which of course is natural, because who doesn't?

Here are the main reasons why dogs get fat:
1.  They are fed too much
2.  They don't get enough exercise
3.  They have genes that tend to make them get fat easily
4.  They have some condition like hypothyroidism

There are some breeds of dogs that are more likely to be overweight than other breeds.  These breeds include labs, dachshunds, shelties, cockers, bassets, beagles, cairn terriers, and collies.  Also dogs that have been neutered or spayed need fewer calories than dogs that are intact.

Here's how you can tell if your dog is overweight or not:  In a dog who is just the right weight, you can feel the ribs easily through a thin layer of fat.  Also you can see that the dog has a waist and tuck-up.  The tuck-up is the tummy part of the dog from the ribs on back to the rear end of the dog.  Of course, some breeds are shaped lots different from other breeds, but those are the general rules about how to tell if dogs are fat.

Being fat can cause a whole ton of health problems for a dog.  Here's a list of the ones I found while doing my research:
 1.  You might get diabetes
 2.  Your bones and joints hurt more
 3.  You can have heart disease and high blood pressure
 4.  It's harder to breathe
 5.  You get tired quicker
 6.  You can't stand the heat
 7.  Your liver doesn't work as well
 8.  It's riskier to have surgery
 9.  It's harder to have puppies
10.  You can't digest your food as well
11.  You can get infections easier
12.  Your skin gets dry and flaky
13.  You're more likely to get cancer
14.  You probably won't live as long

When I read about all these scary things that can happen to fat dogs, I felt better about being on a diet.  Well, sort of.  Anyway, I know I don't want to have all those bad things happen to me, so I guess it's worth it to eat a little less, especially if Mom doesn't give me a choice in the matter!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


There was the most amazing story in the paper yesterday morning about A DOG IN POLAND WHO WAS RESCUED FROM THE BALTIC SEA!  Mom and I were very excited to read this story, and then we looked for more information online, and we found some.  We also found some photos of the dog, and these photos belong to the Associated Press, so I don't know if it's okay to use them or not.  But probably not.  Anyway, if I get sent to jail, I hope there will be a computer there that I can use to keep writing my blog!

So here's the story of what happened.  Somehow this dog got out on an ice floe, which is what you call a chunk of ice that is smaller than an iceberg but bigger than an ice cube, and started floating down the Vistula River in Poland.  No one knows where the dog came from or when it started its float trip, but some people in a town called Grudziadz saw the dog on Saturday.

Grudziadz is about 60 miles from the sea.  Some firefighters there tried to rescue the dog, but they couldn't do it.  This was probably because there was so much ice in the river, and also the river is pretty wide, which you can see by looking at this photo that was taken of the Vistula from Grudziadz.  Except that this photo was taken in summer, when there wasn't any ice.

So the dog kept on floating downstream, and the weather was really, really cold, like sometimes it was 20 degrees below zero!  And the only reason the dog didn't freeze to death was because he had thick fur.  If he had been a polar bear, he could have just got off the ice floe and gone swimming in the river.  Polar bears are good swimmers, and they have very thick fur, and they like hanging out on ice floes.  But dogs don't generally like ice floes, so this dog probably realized that he had made a terrible mistake by getting on the ice in the first place, and I'll bet he was really scared.

Finally, the dog floated all the way to the Baltic Sea, and he floated like 15 miles out into the sea, and some scientists who were on a Polish ship saw him on Monday and they rescued him.  Except it wasn't easy for them to rescue the dog because he kept falling off the ice floe, and the scientists were afraid he would drown, but then he would come back up again.  So then one of the men got in a pontoon boat thing and he managed to get hold of the dog and drag him into the boat and save his life.

The boat crew dried off the dog and warmed him up and fed him, and he was very friendly and grateful to them.  They named him "Baltic," because they found him in the Baltic Sea and also the name of their ship is the Baltic.  The company that owns the ship sent him a nice squeaky toy and a dog dish and some dog food.  Then a veterinarian checked Baltic all over and she said that he was in very good condition, even though he had been floating around on the ice for several days.

The President of Poland, Mr. Lech Kaczynski, sent a letter to the crew of the ship.  And even though he has one of those funny Polish names that are hard to say and spell, we know that he is a good person because he is a dog owner.  So in the letter, he said that the men on the ship were very good people because they saved the dog, and that "Such gestures make our world a better one."

There are some people who have said that Baltic is their dog, but when they came to meet him, Baltic didn't act like he knew them.  If the real owner of Baltic doesn't come to get him, the ship's crew is going to adopt him, so we know that he will have a good home.  And that makes this story have a very happy ending!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Jock of the Bushveld

This is the story of a real live famous dog who lived a long time ago in South Africa.  He was so brave and loyal that his owner wrote a book about him, and also there was a movie made about him.  So in that way, Jock was kind of like Greyfriars Bobby.

But anyway, here's the story of Jock.  He was born in a part of South Africa that is now called Kruger National Park.  Here's a map so that you can see where it is, just in case your South African geography is not too good.  Kruger National Park is way over on the right-hand side of the country, next door to Mozambique.  Except it wasn't a national park back when Jock was a puppy.

I wish I could tell you that Jock was a basenji, but if I told you that, it would be a lie.  What Jock was was a Staffordshire bull-terrier, which is what some people would call a pit bull.  He was the runt of his litter, and his breeders were going to drown him in a bucket of water because they didn't think a runt puppy would ever amount to anything.  But this man named Sir Percy Fitzpatrick saved Jock and adopted him as his very own dog.  Jock was very grateful for this, and he grew up to be faithful and obedient to his dad.  He was also a good fighter, a good hunter, and a good companion.

At that time, which was in the 1880s, some people in South Africa were very busy looking for gold because they knew it would make them rich if they found it. These miners were so busy that they did not have time to go get food and stuff, so Sir Percy and Jock took supplies to them in wagons that were pulled by oxen.  This was very hard work, and Sir Percy and Jock had many adventures while they were doing it.  Like for example, one time Jock got into a fight with a baboon, and Jock won the fight.

Another time Jock got kicked in the head by a kudu cow, and after that, he couldn't hear anything anymore.  I wasn't sure what a kudu cow looked like, so I found a picture of one and here it is.  The bulls have horn things, but the cows don't.

Jock and Sir Percy did this work for five years, and then all their oxen got infected by tsetse flies and died.  So Sir Percy had to find different work.  And after that, he got married and moved to Johannesburg.  He did not take Jock with him, maybe because he thought that Jock would not be happy living in the city.  Instead, he gave Jock to a trader who lived in Mozambique.

One night, a stray dog was raiding the trader's chickens, so Jock went out and killed the dog.  But it was dark out, and the trader thought Jock was the stray dog, and he shot him by mistake.  And this is how Jock died, which is a very sad part of Jock's story.

Sir Percy used to tell his children bedtime stories about all his adventures with Jock, and his friend, Rudyard Kipling, told Sir Percy that he should write them down in a book.  Mr. Kipling was a famous writer, so Sir Percy took his advice and wrote a book about Jock.  Then later on, a movie got made about Jock, too.

Mom thought it would be fun to read this book, so she went to and ordered a copy for us.  They had a very special collector's copy of the book there that cost $299.99, but Mom just bought us a used copy for $3.99.

If you go to Kruger National Park in South Africa now, you can stay at the Jock Safari Lodge, which was named for Jock of the Bushveld.  Here's a picture of this lodge, and if you want to see lots more pictures plus maybe plan a safari of your own to go there, you can look at this website:

I told Mom that we should all go on a trip to the Jock Safari Lodge, but she said we couldn't go there because it was expensive.  This is what she always says when I want to go on a trip someplace.  Oh well, I don't think there are very many basenjis in South Africa anyway, so it probably wouldn't be very interesting to go there.

But before I forget, I want to thank my basenji girlfriend, Zest, Superstar in Training, for suggesting that I write about Jock because otherwise I might never have heard of this famous and interesting African dog!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Random Piperish Thoughts

Yesterday I was thinking about the sun, and the reason for this was because the sun was actually shining, which it doesn't do so often these days.  Lying in the sun is a very nice thing for a dog to do, so I was doing a little of that.  But not outside.  It was COLD outside, even though it was sunny.  Where I was lying in the sun was inside the house, by the south window.  This is where the sun comes in during the wintertime, and it's a nice, warm place to take a nap.

Mom actually let us go in the bedroom for a while and lie in the sun there, which is the best place to do it because there are nice soft dog beds there plus also Mom's bed.  But mostly Mom keeps the door to the bedroom closed because she does not want us tearing up stuff in there.  Like the other day, Gabe tore a hole in our comforter that Mom bought at a garage sale for us to sleep on, and I helped Gabe unstuff it, which was lots of fun.  But then Mom took the comforter away and sewed it up on the sewing machine, so we couldn't unstuff it again.

And also Gabe keeps trying to eat the carpet in one corner of the bedroom because it's loose there, and he can pull it up and pull out the long yarn things and eat them.  Mom says it's bad for him to eat the yarn things, and she wants to find some boards to nail down the carpet better, but she hasn't done it yet.  Someday she plans to take the whole carpet out and throw it away, but she hasn't done that yet either.  But anyway, that's why we don't get to go in the bedroom anymore unless Mom is there to keep us out of trouble.

In the paper yesterday morning, there was an article about how the African animals at the zoo are not designed for such cold weather like we have had lately.  So when it's cold outside, they mostly stay inside where it's warm.  This explains why basenjis don't like the cold either.  We are not designed for cold weather, just like giraffes and hippos are not designed for cold weather.  If we were polar bears, things would be different.

Yesterday morning, Mom went out and did some stuff, but then she stayed home with us all afternoon.  And one of the things she did was she tried to polish that ugly silver cup again that she bought at the antique mall the other day.  This time she used some icky, toxic stuff that is supposed to take the tarnish off in like five seconds, but it smells bad, and you have to wear rubber gloves when you use it.  Well, guess what!  It didn't work!  The cup is still black like before.  So Mom thinks what happened is that all the silver plate that was on it has already gone away, which is why it can't be polished.  I don't know what Mom will do with the cup now.  Maybe she'll plant something in it.  That's what she does with lots of the silly stuff she buys at thrift stores.

Another thing Mom did was she wrote a letter to the boy she sponsors in India, and also a letter to the girl she sponsors in Niger.  Oh, and here's a question I'll bet you can't answer:  If a person from Nigeria is called a Nigerian, what do you call a person from Niger?

Do you give up?  The answer is:  a Nigerien!  Yep, it's almost the same word except with "en" at the end instead of "an."  You don't have to thank me for this important information, but if you happen to win a big contest of some kind because of knowing it, I hope you will share the prize money with me.

Well, I can't think of any other random thoughts right now, so I'm going to quit writing.  Today it's supposed to snow and rain and be cloudy, so it's a good thing I enjoyed the sun yesterday, while it was still around.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Sometimes I wish that dogs could hibernate during the winter because it would be nice to just sleep through all the snow and cold stuff and then wake up when it was warm again in the spring.  Mom thinks it would be nice for people to be able to hibernate for the same reason.  But dogs and humans can't hibernate, so I guess we will just have to stay in our warm houses when it's cold outside.

Anyway, what happens when animals hibernate is that they go to sleep, and their body slows down a bunch, and their heart beats slower, and they breathe slower, and everything inside them gets slower.  Which makes the temperature of their body go really low.  Then they sleep for  several days or several weeks at a time.

Here are some of the animals that hibernate:

1.  Bats
2.  Ground squirrels
3.  Rodents
4.  Hedgehogs
5.  Mouse lemurs
6.  Western diamondback rattlesnakes

This is not a complete list, but it gives you the basic idea.

Here's a picture of a mouse lemur.  It's the smallest type of lemur, and it lives in Madagascar, which is where all lemurs live unless they are in zoos.  We have some ring-tailed lemurs in the zoo in Kansas City.  Mom thinks they are really cute, but maybe not as cute as meerkats.  Anyway, the ring-tailed lemurs don't hibernate, but the mouse lemurs do.  I can't explain this.  I am just telling you what I read.

This picture shows a western diamondback rattlesnake.  I hope I never meet one in person because these snakes are very poisonous, especially for cute little dogs like me, so I would not want to be bitten by one.  I have heard of basenjis that got bitten by rattlesnakes and lived to tell about it, but luckily, we do not have many rattlesnakes in Missouri.  Mostly we have copperheads and cottonmouths.  I would not want to meet them either.  I hope they are all hibernating now, but I don't know if all those snakes hibernate or not.

The most famous hibernator is the bear.  Except that it turns out that bears don't really hibernate.  Bears do what some people call "denning," which means that they spend most of the winter in their dens and do a lot of sleeping.  Actually, some dogs and humans do this during the winter, too!  But anyway, when bears are sleeping during the wintertime, their body temperature does not go as low as the temperatures of animals that do real hibernation.  And it's pretty easy to wake a bear up while it's denning, but it's probably not a good idea to do that because it might make the bear mad and then it would eat you.

One thing I was shocked to read about bears is that they have an even better sense of smell than dogs do.  I find this hard to believe, and I think I will have to do more research on this so-called "fact."  But right now I need to do some denning for a little while.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mom Goes Antiquing

On Friday, Mom and Aunt LaDene went to the Mission Road Antique Mall, which is a place where they really like to go, but they haven't been there for quite a while.  I think the reason that they like to go there is because they are both so old that they are kind of like antiques themselves, so they feel right at home with the other antiques.

Dogs aren't allowed to go to antique malls, so that's why I didn't go with them.  Service dogs are allowed to go in places like antique malls, but regular dogs aren't.  I think this is probably because people are afraid that dogs might break things with their tails, or else they might chew up the antiques or pee on them.

Here's a picture of the inside of the antique mall.  You can see that it is totally crammed full of stuff, so it's hard to see everything because some things are in front of other things.  Also lots of things are breakable, so if you are not careful, you could break something, and then you would have to pay for it, and most of the stuff is pretty expensive, which is why Mom didn't buy anything when she was there except one old beat-up silver cup that was only $5, and it's mostly black with tarnish, and she can't get the tarnish to come off.  Which is probably why the cup only cost $5.

Anyway, at the antique mall, there are usually lots of pictures and stuff with dogs, so I asked Mom to take some photos that I could use in my blog.  It would have been better if she had actually bought some of the paintings and brought them home with her, but she said she couldn't afford any of them.  She said if she didn't have to be always spending her money on vet bills, she might have more money to spend on artwork.  This seemed like kind of a mean thing for her to say because it's not our fault if we get sick, and Mom could actually save a whole bunch of money by just not making us get our shots and heartworm pills and stuff like that.  But sometimes there's just no arguing with Mom.

So anyway, at the antique mall, Mom just took pictures rather than buying pictures because that was cheaper.  Here's a picture from the days of Queen Victoria, and it's called Found.  It shows a collie who has found a lost lamb and now he's barking about his find, probably to let his dad, the shepherd, know that the lamb isn't lost anymore.  Remember how I told you that the Victorians liked to make animal pictures that told a story?  Well, this is one of them.  Mom says it must have been a very popular picture because lots of copies of it are in antique shops.

Here's another Victorian picture, and it's called Guarding.  This dog is watching over the little girl while she sleeps.  The colors in this picture are kind of weird, if you ask me, but the idea of the brave and faithful dog guarding the little girl is very nice.

Mom was happy to find our old friend Nipper at the antique mall.  This Nipper is a bank, so he has a slot in his back where you can put your pennies.  He doesn't have a Victrola to listen to, but maybe he is listening to that strange head thing next to him.

I think these puppies are really cute.  They would be fun to play with, if they were real.  And this painting would have looked good on our wall, if Mom had bought it for us, which she didn't.

My favorite painting that Mom took a picture of is this one, because the dog is black-and-white like me.  This makes him very handsome.  Except that Mom had to take the picture from kind of a funny angle, so the dog's head looks a little bit warped.  I think it's funny that his eyes are so round because it makes him look very surprised.  It's like he was just taking a nap out there in front of his doghouse, and then something woke him up, and he said "Huh? What was that?"

This picture is not a dog at all, but a monkey.  There are monkeys in Africa, where my distant basenji cousins live.  And there are also monkeys in Asia and South America, but there aren't any monkeys in Missouri, except at the zoo.  I don't know where this monkey is from.  I think he might be a pet monkey.  Mom says we cannot have a monkey at our house because certain dogs might want to eat a monkey, if we had one.

And last of all, Mom took this picture of a really neat dog toy.  Except Mom says it is not a dog toy.  She  says it is a doll named "Raggedy Anne."  But I still think it would make a good dog toy because it would be lots of fun to tear it up and unstuff it.  And it would also be fun to pull all those red yarns out of its head.  I wish Mom had bought us this dog toy, but she didn't.  And Mom says that the fact that I want to tear up this nice doll is exactly the reason why dogs are not allowed to go to antique malls!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I feel very stupid, and it's all Mom's fault.  She thought yesterday was George Washington's birthday, but then she realized later that his birthday is really FEBRUARY 22 instead of January 22.  I am really mad at her for making me look dumb in my own blog, but Mom says I don't look so dumb.  She says I just look like I am "ahead of my time."  She is probably lying about this, but there's nothing I can do about the situation now.

Anyway, what you should do is save everything you learned about George Washington and his foxhounds and think about it all again on February 22, which is the true and correct date of his birthday.

And in the meantime, here are some very nice dogs from the shelter that all need homes, so please give them one if you can.

This first dog is named Hank.  He is not the same Hank that lives with Aunt Cheryl and who came to visit us in October.  This Hank is much bigger and looks very different.  The Hank from the shelter is a mix between a mastiff and a shepherd, and he's 4 years old.  He has sad eyes, but he is very friendly.  He likes to get in Mom's lap when she visits him at the shelter.  Sometimes he barks at the other dogs, so we're not sure if he likes other dogs or not.  Hank walks kind of funny in the back end because he probably got hit by a car before he came to the shelter.  But now he's getting better and he walks more like a regular dog.

Kelly is a cute black girl dog who likes to go around with one ear up and one ear down.  She's a lab/shepherd mix, and she's about 4 years old.  She doesn't like dominant dogs, but she gets along fine with calm, more submissive dogs.

This is Demmy, and he's only 6 months old.  This picture was taken when he was 4 months old, so Demmy is bigger now.  But he probably won't weigh more than 50 pounds when he's all grown up.  He's a German shepherd mix, and Mom says he's very playful and has a lot of energy.  He's a little shy when he goes to adoption events, but he's not shy with people he knows.

This last dog is Henry, and he's a collie mix who is one year old.  Of course, this is not our neighbor, Henry.  This is a totally different dog.  Mom has not got to play with Henry yet, so she doesn't know too much about him except that he is very pretty and he is supposed to be very friendly.

So anyway, that's all for today.  Just remember that there are many homeless dogs and cats sitting around in shelters and foster homes, so if you can do anything to help them out, they would appreciate it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

George Washington and His Dogs

Today is the birthday of George Washington.  He is very, very old.  In fact, he is so old that he is dead now, but we can still celebrate his birthday anyway.  When Mom was a little girl, she used to get to stay home from school on February 22 because it was Washington's Birthday.  But then all the other presidents got jealous, so now there is a holiday called "Presidents' Day" and it's always on a Monday so that people can have a long weekend.  Well, at least they can if they work for the government or for a bank or a school.

Anyway, the reason that we like to remember Mr. George Washington is because he was a very famous general in the army during the Revolutionary War, and after that he was the very first president ever of the United States.  Which means that President Washington's dogs were the first First Dogs in the entire history of our country.

But President Washington did not have his dogs in the White House.  This was partly because the White House hadn't been built yet.  So mostly President Washington left his dogs at his home, which was called Mt. Vernon.  Here's a picture of it.  Mom visited Mt. Vernon one time, but she did not see any dogs there at that time.

The kind of dogs that President Washington liked best were foxhounds.  He liked these dogs because he did a lot of fox hunting.  See, he was what you call a "gentleman farmer."  This meant he had a nice farm and a bunch of slaves to do all the hard work on the farm.  So he had a lot of free time that he didn't have to spend picking beans, and he could spend it fox hunting with the other gentleman farmers of the neighborhood.

Fox hunting was not much fun for foxes, but the hounds had a good time doing it, and so did the people and their horses.  Speaking just from a dog's point of view, I think I would really like to go fox hunting.  But Mom says I would never be able to keep up with the fox because you have to run really fast and jump over fences and stone walls and stuff like that.  This might be hard on my knee that has arthritis in it, so maybe I could just hunt a slow fox.  But I don't think Mom would even let me do that because she says that fox hunting is cruel to foxes, so if I want to hunt something, I can go lure coursing and chase a plastic bag.

But anyway, getting back to President Washington.  He is often said to be the father of our country, even though he never had any children.  But did you know that he was also the father of the American foxhound?  It makes more sense to call him this because he did have lots of foxhounds, even though he didn't have any kids.  And the way he became the father of the American foxhound was that a friend of his in France, the Marquis de LaFayette, gave him seven large stag hounds as a gift.  Then Mr. Washington bred these stag hounds with his black-and-tan hounds, and that eventually made a new kind of foxhound.

Mr. Washington kept diaries and wrote letters, and he used to write about his dogs and the way he was trying to make better foxhounds.  He had more than 30 hounds, and he made lists of all of them by name.  Three of them were called Drunkard, Tipler, and Tipsy.  I don't think Mr. Washington really let his dogs get drunk, but maybe I am wrong about that.

The slaves who lived at Mt. Vernon were not allowed to have dogs.  If they were caught owning a dog, they were punished, and the dog was hung.  This seems very mean to me, especially the part about hanging the dog, because it wasn't the dog's fault who owned him.  The reason Mr. Washington didn't want his slaves to have dogs was because he was afraid they would train the dogs to steal things.  Here's what Mr. Washington wrote one time in a letter:  "It is not for any good purpose Negroes raise or keep dogs, but to aid them in their night robberies, for it is astonishing to see the command under which their dogs are."  Which just goes to show that African-Americans were really the first "dog whisperers" in America!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Greyfriars Bobby

This is the true story of a real dog that lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, many years ago.  He was a Skye terrier, and his name was Bobby.  He belonged to a man named John Gray, who worked as a night watchman for the Edinburgh City Police.  John Gray was really a gardener, but when he moved to Edinburgh, it was wintertime, and there was no work for gardeners at that time.  So that's why he started working as a night watchman.  And as part of his job, he had to have a dog.  So he got Bobby.  In Great Britain, policemen are called "bobbies," so that may be how Bobby got his name.

A Skye terrier doesn't really seem like what you would think of as a big, fierce watchdog, but maybe he was good at barking or at biting criminals on the ankle.  Anyway, he and John Gray worked together every night, doing their job of watching, and they loved each other.

Then after about two years, John Gray got very sick with tuberculosis, and he died.  The date when he died was February 15, 1858.  This was a very sad thing to happen to Bobby because Bobby did not want to be without his dad.  So after John Gray got buried, Bobby would go and lie on his grave all the time.  The grave was in a cemetery by a church called Greyfriars Kirk.  Kirk is a Scottish word that means church.  Scottish people talk funny sometimes and use different words for stuff, and kirk is a good example of this.

Anyway, Bobby stayed by his dad's grave for 14 years, which is a really long time.  There was a pub close to there where John Gray and Bobby used to go together, and after John Gray died, the people who owned the pub fed Bobby a lot of his meals.  Also some of the people who lived close to Greyfriars Kirk knew Bobby and would feed him or let him stay with them during bad weather.  But a lot of the time Bobby stayed by his dad's grave because he was a very faithful little dog.

Finally, in 1872, Bobby died.  His friends wanted to bury him in the cemetery, by John Gray, but it was not allowed for dogs to be buried there.  So they buried him just outside the cemetery gate.  And then a nice woman named Lady Burdett-Coutts had a statue made of Bobby, with a little fountain for dogs to drink out of.

A long, long time after that, in 1981, the people of Edinburgh put up a nice marker by Bobby's grave.  And this is what it says:
          Greyfriars Bobby
          died 14th January 1872
          aged 16 years
          Let his loyalty and devotion 
          be a lesson to us all.

Mom has been to Edinburgh twice and has actually seen the statue and Bobby's grave and John Gray's grave in person.  Also she bought a book about Greyfriars Bobby, and she read it, but she doesn't think she has it anymore, or if she does have it, it's in a box somewhere in the basement.  But now Bobby has his very own website because he is a modern little dog, so you can go there if you want to read more about him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Queen Victoria, a Good Friend to Dogs

On Sunday, Mom and Aunt LaDene went to the movies, and what they saw was a movie called The Young Victoria.  This movie was about a queen of England back in the old days, who was on the throne for 63 years and 7 months.  Which is a really long time to sit on a throne, if you ask me!

The best part about the movie was that it had dogs in it, because Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, loved dogs.  One dog that was in the movie was a dog named Dash, who was a King Charles Spaniel.  Back in those days, they didn't call them Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.  That was something that got started later.

Anyway, Victoria loved Dash because he was one of her few companions, on account of she wasn't allowed to go to school or play with other children.  I looked in Mom's book of dog paintings from 1840 to 1940, and there is a painting of Dash that was made by Sir Edwin Landseer.  But I could not find this painting online in the public domain, so you won't get to see it in my blog.

When Dash died, he was buried in a garden, and here's what it said on the grave marker:

Here lies DASH, The Favourite Spaniel of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, By whose command this Memorial was Erected.  He died on the 20th December, 1840, in his 9th year.
     His attachment was without selfishness,
     His playfulness without malice,
     His fidelity without deceit.
READER, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of DASH.

So you can kind of get the idea of how much Queen Victoria loved dogs by reading this.  Her husband, who was called the "prince consort," also loved dogs.  In the movie, he was shown with two greyhounds.  His favorite greyhound was named Eos.  Her picture was also painted by Sir Edwin Landseer, who painted a lot of pictures of the royal family's dogs.

Here's a painting by Sir Edwin that does have Dash in it and also Eos, plus a Scottish deerhound and a parrot.

Victoria and Albert loved each other very much, and they had a whole bunch of kids.  In fact, they had 9 of them and 42 grandchildren.  I couldn't find out how many dogs they owned, but I think it was a lot.  Also they had horses.

After Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria mostly wore black for the rest of her life.  She still had lots of dogs, and she had special kennels for them at Windsor and special people to take care of them.  People sometimes gave her dogs as gifts, and she liked to bring dogs to England from exotic places.

Queen Victoria really liked Skye Terriers and collies.  These breeds came from Scotland.  She helped make these types of dogs more popular in England.  She brought dachshunds from Germany and also Pomeranians.  At first, Pomeranians were much bigger than they are today, like about 30 pounds.  But Queen Victoria liked them smaller, so people started breeding and showing them that way.

Another thing Queen Victoria did for dogs was to make it popular to have paintings of dogs as pets instead of as show dogs that are standing around in a formal pose.  During Victorian times, people were very sentimental, so they liked paintings that told a story.  Like for example, there might be a dog looking sad, with some gloves and a hat, and the name of the painting would be "Waiting for Master."  Then you wonder if the master will ever return, or if he's dead or something.  And you also wonder why the dog does not chew up the gloves and hat, which would help pass the time while waiting for the master to come back.

Anyway, I guess that's all I can tell you about Queen Victoria.  Everybody always thinks that the most famous thing she said was "We are not amused," but I don't know if she really said that or not.  I think that watching her dogs play was amusing to her or else she wouldn't have done it so often!