It’s another of Those Days – August 26th has been designated, by those who decide these things, as International Dog Day.
There’s no shortage of dogs in Angela Thirkell’s novels, but probably the most memorable is the dog with the most names – eventually settling to Gallant via Zog, Beneš, Amethyst, Eisenhower, Mannerheim, Churchill, Smigly-Rydz, and Schusnigg, not necessarily in that order.
In “Cheerfulness Breaks In” he’s described as: “The dog, presumably Smigly-Rydz-Zog-Beneš-Schuschnigg, was one of those very stout little dogs with a black shaggy coat, short in the leg, with a head as large as an elephant’s and mournful eyes.” A similar dog, Penny Barton, appears in “Pomfret Towers”: “…an old Scotch terrier with a face as large as an elephant’s”. This suggests that Gallant and Penny are both Aberdeen Terriers, a favoured breed of Angela Thirkell’s “Cousin Ruddy” – Rudyard Kipling. Thirkell took some of her characters from life (to Kipling’s disgust) so perhaps she took some dogs, too.
The photograph of Rudyard Kipling with one of his terriers, probably Mike, in the garden at his Sussex home, Bateman’s, was kindly provided by The Kipling Society. Apparently the terriers would circle the Bateman’s parlour at high speed, bouncing off the furniture.