Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Life's meanderings took an interesting turn while substitute teaching a few days ago.  I was filling-in for a middle school English class and found a book on the classroom shelf:  Dragon - Hound of Honor written by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton (Copyright 2004). 

Firstly, I had never realized that the famous actress and singer Julie Andrews was an author of children's books.  She co-authored the book with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton.  Secondly, their fiction novel was an adaptation of the old French tale:  "The Legend of the Dog of Montargis".

As a consequence of reading about the legend, I found another book entitled:  The Beast in the Boudoir which is a nonfiction book that relates historic accounts of pets' fidelity (especially dogs) in 19th Century France.;;doc.view=print

A brief summary of the Legend of the Dog of Montargis is that a King's knight, Aubrey, was riding through the forest with his dog Dragon accompanying.  Aubrey was murdered along the forest road and Dragon remained by his owners body.  Eventually, Dragon, a devoted dog, returned alone to the King's court.  He picked-out the murderer from a roomful of knights and other court people.  Dragon attacked his owner's murderer in front of the entire court.  The King witnessed the event and ordered a battle between the suspect and Dragon to decide whether the suspect was truly guilty.  At the start of the battle, Dragon leaped on the suspect and knocked him to the ground.  Before Dragon could fully avenge his owner, Knight Aubrey, the suspect admitted his guilt and confessed to the murder of Aubrey.  Hence, Dragon became the Hound of Honor. 

Historically, it was alluded that Dragon was a "greyhound".  This was derived from 1 or 2 original letters from the knight's period which related the events that had occurred in Montargis sometime between 1360 and 1400.  In the 1840's era, a French play depicting the legend apparently used a Briard to play the part of Dragon.  What breed of dog was Dragon?  I have not seen the original letters from French Knight history.  Perhaps Dragon was a Berger Picard?  Here is one of my own photos of a wonderful Berger Picard from the Greenwich Kennel Club Dog Show, June 2013:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1985 Westminster Champion - The Alabama Slammer

In 1986 while living and working in Norwalk, CT (the first time), I was invited to go to dinner with some local Democrat women at Bloodroot Restaurant in Bridgeport.   I do not recall the exact circumstances of the dinner since I am not involved in politics and never have been.  Guess I am a political slacker.  

I got into the back seat of the sedan and there was an elderly woman, who was already in the vehicle, sitting next to me.  After the usual introductory chit-chat, we just starting talking about dogs.  I guess this old lady could see that I liked dogs.   So we started talking about dogs and the Westminster Dog Show.   So I said:  "I recall the last Sporting Group winner was the Alabama Slammer, the Gordon Setter" (1985).  She looked at me and said:  "I bred the Alabama Slammer" .

So I said to her, in disbelief:  "You bred the Alabama Slammer"?  You know how young people, such as myself back then, can be!

"Yes", she said, "I did".  "However, Cocker Spaniels are what I am known for in the dog world".  .....

The location of this conversation was while we was driving along Route 136 in Westport, CT.  I was much younger and likely naive.  Yet, I knew without saying much that this was a moment in life that I would never forget and I never have forgotten.  Never met the old lady, again and that evening I never asked her name and she never told me her name.  She was one of my inspirations for becoming a fan of the American Kennel Club and the Westminster Dog Show. 

See the Westminster Kennel Club link for the "1985 Champion":

Postcript (2/14/2014):  As things go, it was subsequently revealed that this old woman was the author F. Scott Fitzgerald's daughter.  Her father had been part of the Westport, CT arts scene in years past. 


This year at the recent Westminster Dog Show in New York City an American Foxhound, nicknamed Jewel, won the Hound Group.  A few days prior to this I had been reviewing old-time American Dog Show History and found this article about the American Foxhound from 1897:

To continue, President and General Washington was one of the first in the United States to import Foxhounds from Europe.  Some may have been English Foxhounds, although he received French Hounds (Grand Bleu de Gascogne) as a gift from General Lafayette.  He maintained a large Foxhound kennel and breeding program in Virginia.  Washington supposedly also obtained dogs from a lineage of English Foxhounds introduced to America by a Robert Brooke in 1650 and bred these with the dogs given to him by General Lafayette.  The following is a mural representation of Washington with his hounds:  

The mural was painted by John Ward Dunsmore in 1909.    The famous Faunces Tavern of New York City is associated with the art of Mr. Dunsmore:  

A link to the American Kennel Club provides a summarized timeline for the American Foxhound in the United States which was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886: 

I am glad Jewel won the Hound group this year and cheer for every other dog at the Westminster Dog Show.  I have my favorite dog breeds including my own pets and have always dreamed about having one of my own dogs showing at Westminster some day!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


An article written by Lillian Moeran for Outing Magazine in 1902 is posted for your reading enjoyment:

Mrs. Moeran was a successful dog breeder and handler and associated with the Ladies Kennel Association of American.  She wrote magazine articles about various dog breeds.  Her writing style, although colloquial, displayed a knowledge about dog breeds, breeding, and handling/exhibiting in the United States.  A photo of Mrs. Moeran and her toy spaniels is found in the article.

Friday, February 1, 2013


The following is a link to an interesting article from the magazine "Outing" from the year 1888 about the Westminster Dog Show which is held every February at Madison Square Garden in New York City:

[The Outing magazine archives, along with other historic sporting journals, is accessible from the Los Angeles Sports Foundation digital archives.  The foundation was begun in 1984 with the Summer Olympics which were held in Los Angeles, CA that year.   I was originally referred to the Los Angeles Sports Foundation by Mr. George Dales, a professional friend and retired track and field/cross country coach from Western Michigan University, while researching track and field history.]

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wolf hunting in Russia - Pathé Frères 1910

The Borzoi is a beautiful dog with a long history.  Borzoi were brought to western Europe and the United States from Russia in the latter 1800's and early 1900's.  Recently, I found a short video of Borzoi's being used to hunt wolves.  The video dates to 1910 and had English text in the video.  The video is from Pathe Freres which was a French film studio.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


 A few weeks ago the Mark Sublette Gallery ( of Tuscon, AZ and Santa Fe, NM posted a beautiful photograph of a Navaho grandmother with her horse and dog herding sheep along the redrock desert
The exact location is irrelevant, yet is most probably in western New Mexico or eastern Arizona.  The Navaho have a centuries-old tradition of sheep herding and weaving. They are well known for their colorful rugs and blankets:!/photo.php?fbid=10151052735622732&set=a.225502162731.134165.221256922731&type=1&theater

I have always enjoyed wandering around the southwestern United States and learning about the Native American traditions and cultures. 

My first Belgian Tervuren female was born on the Navaho Reservation in Shiprock, NM, USA.  The dog breeder was a school psychologist employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and living with her husband and dogs in a house on the reservation.  I was living full-time in Albuquerque, NM, USA and attending the University of New Mexico at that time.   On the morning of November 3, 1997, I was browsing through the Belgian Tervuren magazine at home in Albuquerque, when I noticed the advertisement for a litter of puppies expected that month in Shiprock, NM.  I had planned for many years to get a Tervuren puppy.  On the same morning in November, I sent a quick email inquiry to the dog breeder and she promptly emailed me back that the puppies were just being born and that she would get back to me in a day or two.  I knew then that a Tervuren from this litter was meant to be....

So when the puppies were 6 weeks old in December, I drove to Shiprock, NM which was a few hours round-trip,   I met all the puppies and reserved a puppy from the litter.  There was one cute female that kept jumping-up to me in the puppy pen as I sat beside the pen with all the puppies.  She wanted all the attention as I was trying to pet each puppy.  This puppy's baby nickname was "Navaho".

During the University of New Mexico Christmas Holiday semester vacation, I went home to Connecticut for a while with my young male Brittany, Montana, and my 15 year old female Pointer whom I had adopted when she was 4 years old.   While home in Connecticut my female Pointer was found to have metastasized cancer in her spine and lungs and had to be euthanized on January 9, 1998.  She had been diagnosed with a tumor near her kidney months before and did well on Prednisone for many months.   I was told the tumor could not be resected because it was too close to blood vessels.   So Montana and I headed back to Albuquerque alone and with a heavy heart on January 11 of that year.  

When we arrived back in Albuquerque, I called the dog breeder and made arrangements to pick-up my new 11 week old Tervuren puppy, "Navajo", who I renamed "Monique" as her call name.  Hence, on January 14, 1998 a wonderful journey of life began with my girl Monique and our best friend Montana:

Monique (above photo at 14 weeks) was an excellent cow herder.  We did not have an opportunity to herd sheep since we lived in Albuquerque and the nearby mesa had a small population of cows but no sheep.  Monique was as swift as the wind running across the mesa.  Only a local coyote was faster than her. 

I used bring them to the mesa 3-4 times per week for exercise and training.  She and Montana, on one visit to the mesa, got into an impromptu play session with a female coyote - hide-and-seek.  This lone coyote ran about 300 yards, in full view, across the desert and started playing with Montana.  Monique immediately jumped into the action, however, the coyote female out-raced Monique and Montana to a nearby hill and disappeared.  When I finally caught-up to them they had stopped at the bottom of the hill searching for their new friend.  Coyote (whom I subsequently called Coyote Woman) appeared at the top of the hill panting and was looking down at Monique, Montana, and me - who were looking up at her!  What a precious and amusing moment.  

On another occasion a mother cow and her new born calf were stranded on the mesa away from the bull and herd.  Monique, Montana, and me were out for our usual exercise and fun.  Monique jumped on this situation, also.  She trotted right over to the mother cow and calf.  The calf would not get-up and the mother was very anxious about being stranded away from the protection of the herd.   To my amazement, I watched Monique move to the right of the mother cow and gently nuzzle her right side with her nose.  The mother cow got noisy and tempermental, but Monique kept at this.  She did not move to the left side where the calf was laying.  After a few nudges to the mother and a little dust stirring-up on the mesa, the calf stood-up.  For the next half-mile, Monique walked stride for stride with the mother cow and calf across the desert until they arrived back at the herd (Mother cow in the middle, calf on the mother's left side, and Monique on the mother cow's right side).  Montana and me just patiently followed about 20 yards behind.  She had not had any herding lessons. Monique was so beautiful, graceful, and good, and I was so very proud of her!

I did not carry a camera on our outings to the mesa during that time so I have no photos of these moments, yet remember each and every precious moment with her.  She died at the age of 11 years on January 27, 2009 at home at 3:20 AM.  I woke-up in the middle of the night to find her taking her last few breaths as she lay unconsious. 

Included are a few photos of Monique from puppyhood to her 11 years: 

Monique, Montana, and me are forever entwined in the Native American west and their peoples' culture from our joint life journey while we traveled around New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and back and forth to Connecticut.  What great times we had together.  I celebrate Monique/Navaho's life this month!