This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
I can venture to say that no present ever given to anybody has brought such intense delight as that of my kind friend Miss Dillon.
How I loved that pretty puppy! It grew and flourished, and I remember in the autumn making a cart for it out of a box and the wheels of a doll's perambulator, and going with my turnout to collect acorns in spite of my uncle's facetious warnings that it was illegal to put dogs in harness. But the puppy objected strongly to the harness and vindicated the majesty of the law by running away and upsetting the acorns against the garden gate post, the wheels came off, and that was the end of my dog-driving enthusiasm. Butterfly's portrait will be found in this volume. She grew up with a beautiful coat and ears, and was my constant companion. I taught her many very difficult tricks, but nothing would ever induce her to fetch and carry. While my eye was on her she would carry what I put in her mouth, but if I took my attention off she would slyly drop it in a bush and, if possible, lose it. She would, however, sneeze, whine, bark and growl and turn head over heels to order. I arranged a steeplechase course for her out of chairs and she would go the whole course by herself at command. She would walk about a fully laid dining table without upsetting or stealing anything. I used to have a dormouse which, though usually tame, would occasionally escape from me with a sudden frantic leap.
It would scurry up the window curtains, and travel all over the house, frightening the housemaids into fits by turning up fast asleep in the linen cupboard or in somebody's bed. If I could prevent its reaching the curtains it would rush round the room, diving into shoes or burying itself under rugs. Butterfly would pen it in a corner and catch it for me. She never hurt it in the least. She would take an egg in her mouth without breaking it. What a pity it is that dogs live so short a time. Butterfly lived to more than the usual span of life, but a day came when she died and was buried under a tree. I cried for many weeks, though by that time I was a grown-up young lady supposed to be thinking of nothing but balls and parties. The understanding between a child and its first dog cannot be appreciated by one who has never had a dog in his childhood. A dog teaches a child a world of things. To train a dog one needs patience, self-control, firmness, good temper and, above all, intuition and judgment in no small degree. To treat it successfully in health and illness one must be skilful, quick of decision, observant and unselfish.
Who shall say that these qualities are not invaluable in after life? People can be silly over pet dogs and bring ridicule on them by making them wear motor-goggles and goloshes; but these same people would probably make their own children ridiculous and be equally irritating and silly over anything of which they were fond. The people who make themselves and their dogs a laughingstock to the sensible world will be no less contemptible if deprived of their dogs and reduced to the now fashionable Teddy bear. The keeping of pet dogs is sometimes decried as a degrading, disgraceful, ridiculous, and, indeed, immoral practice confined to an effete aristocracy or a still more detestable plutocracy. This I strenuously deny. I repeat that a sensible boy and a sensible dog are the best education for each other, and the results of the companionship will remain long after the little dog has been forgotten under the grass in some corner of the garden - but not forgotten by his master, who, if he is worth his salt, will never be ashamed of the tears he once shed for his faithful old dog.
It has been stated that only childless women and disappointed spinsters care for dogs. It is true that those to whom fate has been unkind sometimes find comfort in the unselfish love of a dog whose affection subsists regardless of worldly considerations, but I would point out that the man who thoroughly dislikes animals will generally make an indifferent sort of father, and a fondness for animals often goes with understanding and fondness for children. Say what you will, a nature which dislikes animals is almost invariably hard and selfish or, at the very least, cold and unsympathetic.
Let no one, therefore, sneer at the keeping of dogs, but let us all rather be thankful that the world holds creatures so unselfish and unworldly-wise, so blind to their own interests, and so devoted to our own.
Compiling a history of the Toy Spaniel breeds has been like unravelling a Chinese puzzle. The errors of translators and the abnormal amount of hypothesis to be sifted have made me feel at times like the poor princess who was given four sacks of feathers of hundreds of different birds and told to sort them into their proper species before midnight; while the confusion of mind which follows a preliminary study of the question reminds one of the delightful Irish porter who cheered the passengers with the information that "the seven-thirty goes at eight-thirty and there's no last train at all." The Blenheim isn't a Blenheim, the King Charles isn't a King Charles, and the Pomeranian is not a Pomeranian at all.
Besides the historical interest, I have tried to show the fancier how ridiculous and contemptible the present judging system appears to outsiders, who are not all as blind, deaf and stupid as they are given credit for. I want all those who read this book to make up their minds once for all to judge fairly and honestly for the sake of the dogs, whatever it may cost them in unpopularity with those who are less scrupulous.
In writing this book I cannot pay too high a tribute to Miss Annie Todd, the good friend to whose generous gift of many years' knowledge and experience I owe my own knowledge, and to whose unselfish loyalty I owe my success. With her, dog fancying has always been an honourable profession in spite of an uphill struggle against adverse circumstances, and her example has raised the whole Fancy in my estimation. She has the rare gift of keeping the ideals and generosity of youth unspoilt by the stress of a hard life and much bitter experience. Since I had the good fortune to meet with her, the pleasure of success has been doubled by her cooperation and enthusiasm; her philosophy has tided over many moments of despair, and without her wit and light-heartedness dog showing would be dull indeed.
If there are errors in my book, it is not for want of hard work extending over nearly six years. It was thankless work, too, the evidence collected being mostly of a negative kind. I must, therefore, ask my readers to accept my book in a generous spirit and not to cavil at it for its shortcomings, and if the effect of its publication is to bring forth from some unknown quarter more definite information than any I have been able to find, it will still have served its purpose. If what I have said will help others to understand and appreciate the true type, and especially if I can help to bring about a return of that feeling for beauty which has at present been completely lost, I shall not have wasted my time or worked in vain.