A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. This slogan was created in 1978 by the Dog Trust and is still relevant today. At this time of the year people involved with dogs should raise awareness of the consequences of treating dogs as gifts or toys. Every year hundreds of thousands of children plead to receive a dog for Christmas and every year thousands of parents yield to their children’s whim. And yes, dogs make perfect gifts because they come up to everyone’s expectation. They are affectionate, cuddly, responsive, playful, receptive, easy to please, the latest fad, the coolest toy, the fashion statement par excellence but what happens when the novelty wears off? When the toy becomes a burden?
Dogs need structure and leadership. Rough games, shrill cries and cheers from children too young to take on the role of pack leader make training difficult. A young dog should be introduced in his new family with a calm and assertive energy so that he can get used to the new family hierarchy. Affection should be saved until the dog has settled. Cesar Millan says that it is sometimes a good idea to hold that affection until several days into your new relationship with your puppy; as much as a week is recommended. Now this sounds harsh when you want to take your new puppy to bed with you, to carry it in yours arms wherever you go or to cuddle it constantly.
Remember: a dog cannot be taken back to the shop and exchanged if the size does not fit. The new owner must be prepared to make a commitment for the dog’s entire lifetime and be prepared to accept the responsibilities that come with their new family member. There are many factors to consider. Can the vet’s bills be met? Can dog food be bought? Is the house dog friendly? Can the dog have his own space? Can the dog go on family holidays? Can the dog have regular exercise? Can the dog be properly trained? Can the dog receive sufficient attention? Will the dog have to spend long periods on his own because his new owners work out of the house all day? Is the chosen breed suitable as a family pet? Many questions which often remain unanswered and lead to dogs being discarded and abandoned and ending up in shelters. And then what?
Leeds Castle, near Maidstone in Kent has a unique collection of antique dog collars spanning five centuries. Nearly 100 collars and related exhibits in the Leeds Castle Dog Collar Museum trace the history of canine neckwear from medieval to Victorian times. The museum delights more than 500,000 visitors from home and overseas every year.
Originally assembled by the Irish medieval scholar John Hunt and his wife Gertrude, who presented the collars to Leeds Castle in 1979 in memory of her husband, the collection has since been extended by the Leeds Castle Foundation.
The museum is also a tribute to the Castle’s last private owner, Olive, Lady Baillie, whose love of dogs inspired Gertrude Hunt to make the gift.
Many of the earlier collars dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries were designed to protect the dog. It was a time when wolves, bears and wild boar roamed the forests of Europe and the vulnerable throats of hunting dogs were shielded by broad iron collars bristling with fearsome spikes.
These two little silver dogs are quite exceptional pieces. Indeed, although dogs are often represented in Iranian or Mesopotamian art, objects of this type - probably ornaments of dress - are rare.
They come from Bactria, a region situated between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Silver was frequently employed by Oriental goldsmiths, yet few examples of silver pieces still exist because these objects were seldom kept. This precious metal was particularly popular in Bactria. The region of Bactria had a strong tradition of decoration using animal figures. Wild animals (birds of prey, monkeys, camels, and wild boars) and fantastic beasts (dragons) were represented on arms, tools, vases, and dress ornaments.
These two little dogs, barely four centimetres long, are pierced vertically. It is possible that a thread was passed through the hole to hang them on a necklace, for instance, or - more probably - these elements were attached to a metal stem and used as pinheads or the tops of decorative staffs.
They date from the 3rd or 2nd millennium BC and are also exhibited in the Louvre.
This small gold dog pendant is one of the first examples of gold- and silverwork in the 4th millennium BC and it illustrates the dexterity of metallurgists active in Susa in the Late Uruk period, from 3300 to 3100 BC. (Susa lies in present day south west Iran).
The art of metallurgy was a skill acquired in that period. It encapsulates all the metalworking techniques known at the time, and also provides valuable information about one of the two principal breeds of domestic dogs in the Susian plain.
The breed of dog represented here is different from the long, narrow salukis featured on the ceramic painted vases that were found in the Susa I necropolis dating from the foundation of the city. This stocky animal with a curled-over tail was domesticated, as indicated by the collar around its neck. Such domestication was not recent, dating back to pre-Neolithic times. But the 4th millennium BC was marked by an increase in pastoral activity throughout the Near East, probably as a consequence of improved exploitation of ovine wool, and the dog became a highly prized assistant to man. Dogs often feature in the art of this period, particularly in Susa, in the form of statuettes and pendants.
This pendant is exhibited in the Louvre.
Thank you to Cornish Dreamer: "Your compassion for animals always shows on the blog entries that you write and I find that to be a compelling reason to continue reading your blog." and to Violets Vintage: "You are an artist because you transform misguided dogs into perfect pets!" and to Winchester Whisperer: "You are the voice of reason."