This gentleman will be better known to many of my readers as a dramatist and man of letters than as one of the Doggy People; but as, by the courtesy of the Editor of Our Dogs, I am able to give extracts from an article which appeared in that popular paper some years since, from his pen, I think no doubt will exist in any one's mind that Mr. Sims is a genuine dog lover,, although we do not very often see his canine friends at the shows, but we know that of late years he has taken considerable interest in Bull-dogs, and owned several good specimens,which have been successfully shown.
"The first dog in our family of which there is any authentic record was a black-and-tan named Fan. She belonged to my grandfather, who was much attached to her, and when she strayed away felt her loss so deeply that he put off an important engagement and (like Silas Wegg) dropped into poetry about her, and for years afterwards used to pour forth praises of her many virtues, and recite to his grandchildren the poetry written about her. Some of his love for animals seems to have descended on me: I have never been able to regard dogs from a mere fancier's standpoint.
MR. G. R. SIMS'S PONY-TRAP AND DALMATIANS.
From a photo by Alfred Ellis ft Watery, Baker Street, \V.
"My dogs have always been members of the family; I do not like to think what my life would have been without their love and companionship. One of the worst specimens, as a dog, was a nondescript black-and-tan named Pickles, who lived with me for sixteen years, and who raised nearly £100 for a charitable object by appealing to the 'Dogs of England.' After the death of Pickles and her daughter Dinky, who died two years afterwards, aged fifteen, I was dogless for some time; I did not want any more heart stings.
"But I was one day offered a Dalmatian which wanted a home; this I accepted, and for years he followed the carriage and was well, known for twenty miles round London. Through following my pony-cart on long distant excursions Old Sam got to know the principal hotels and put-up houses in all directions, and would often trot off ten or fifteen miles by himself to call at some of these places where he had been hospitably entertained. My Dalmatians have been so often detained in this way, and brought home by waiters late at night as lost dogs, that I have been obliged to put collars on them with the inscription engraved, 'To Restaurant Proprietors - Please do not detain this dog.'
"Lady Godiva is perhaps the most travelled of all my team; she has run from London to Brighton, London to Ramsgate, London to Oxford, London to Birmingham, and in the summer of 1895 she astonished the people of Coventry. She ran down the whole of the way with me by road; but when we reached the outskirts, I lifted her up into the trap and took off her collar, and thus for the second time Lady Godiva rode through the town of ' Peeping Tom' with 'nothings on'!
"Dalmatians must be rare in the provinces. When I take mine on a driving tour the children are delighted; but there is diversity of opinion as to their breed, the majority inclining to favour their being Blood-hounds.
"At Canterbury, when I drove them into an inn yard, an aged ostler stood gazing at them open-mouthed, saying, ' Eh, sir, it makes me think of my young days to see them dogs of yourn. I ain't seed one of 'em for twenty year; but I mind the time when there wasn't a gentleman's carriage without one of 'em behind it.' It is curious that a breed which was at one time one of the best known in England should in recent years have gone so wonderfully out of fashion.
"The four dogs in the accompanying photograph are Samson, Sandow, Prince, and Lady Godiva. They have all been occasionally b?nched, with more cr less success; but I doubt if there are any of the variety at present who cover anything like the number of miles in a year that mine do.
HEAD KEEPER, CLUMBER PARK TRAINER.
MR. F. WINTON SMITH F. HARRINGTON, J. ALEXANDER.
CLUMBER SPANIEL BEECHGROVE ANIETTE CHAMPION BEECHGROVE BEE.
"At the end of the last century Mr. Henry Aiken rarely drew a gentleman's chariot without one or two Dalmatians running behind it. It was one of the customary accessories of a carriage picture. About 1850 they began to disappear."
As it so happens that the writer has kept a large number of this variety, and judged hundreds of them during the last fifteen years, he is pleased to be able to add to the foregoing interesting sketch that there are now a good many ardent fanciers of Dalmatians in this country, and at most of the shows where classes are provided good entries of typical specimens may be seen.
I am pleased to be able to give my readers with this a capital portrait of Mr. G. R. Sims, who is a member of the Kennel Club, and has many friends amongst Doggy People, and also of his pony-trap with some of his Dalmatians.