My A-Z posts this year will be about dogs I have known, dogs I talk to and some I would love to meet. Regular visitors to my blog will recognise some of them I’m sure. Hopefully you will find links to literature – fact and fiction, films, famous dogs and even a dog owner or two. As usual I am expecting to cheat for some letters of the alphabet; I’m sure you will see why.
A – Airedale, Alsatian, Afghan
I must start with the first dog that I remember, that ‘King of Terriers,’ the Airedale. I was very young, I’m not sure that I was old enough to go to school. The only photograph (now lost) that I saw of my father was him kneeling on the front lawn with Punch. Punch was our Airedale with a simple attitude to cats – he hated them. Mind you he took it to extremes when he killed the landlord’s cat for being on his lawn.
Feisty was probably the best word to describe Joe, the Airedale Terrier I used to meet on walks in the North Yorkshire village where I live. He was sure that he was in charge. Like all Airedales Joe was happy to work with you but he never let you think he was working for you.
|Joe - an Airedale Terrier|
At home Joe often occupied a chair where he could see out of the window and bark at passers-by in the deep voice characteristic of his breed.
|Joe on guard|
His bark was the best burglar alarm of all. In the middle of the night it would get you up - to dispose of any large spiders that had appeared. He had warned you of their presence so it was job done. You had to get rid of them.
If you didn’t know Joe that well you might think he was aggressive or bad tempered. Feisty may be the word for him. He was actually affectionate but on his own terms, and underneath all the feistiness he was a very sensitive soul. (You can see more about Joe at north-yorkshire-village-dogs-joe.
Airedales originated in the valley of the River Aire, near Leeds in England and were bred by crossing an Otterhound with a now extinct terrier. In WWI they carried messages in the trenches; Airedales were also one of the first breeds to be used as police dogs in Germany and Britain.
They were a favourite with Presidents of the USA. A statue of President Harding’s ‘Laddie Boy’ is in the Smithsonian Museum..
|President Harding and Laddie Boy|
(Press photo - National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress)
Edgar Rice Burrough’s dog was appropriately named ‘Tarzan’ but I couldn’t possibly say why Bo Derek called hers ‘Harum Scarum’. If you have every wondered why John Wayne was nicknamed Duke – it was name of his Airedale; they were known as ‘Big Duke’ and ‘Little Duke’.
Today German Shepherd dogs are more well known as police dogs than the Airedale. Of course the German Shepherd and the Alsatian are the same breed with German Shepherd now the accepted name but I felt justified in including an ‘Alsatian’ in this post just so that I could show you this.
|A young Alsatian (German Shepherd) takes a nap|
I have never actually seen an Afghan Hound but have always thought it an elegant dog. A member of the Greyhound family, it’s said to have been one of the animals aboard Noah’s Ark
|An Afghan Hound - Taziban Ozarq from Austria|
(wikipedia commons; upload Zwoenitzer, de.wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0)
I would have taken them with me too.