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The power of the dog/The Griffon Bruxellois

"And some loquacious vessels were; and some
Listen'd perhaps, but never talked at all."
Rubaiyát of Omar Khayyám.


GRIFFONS BRUXELLOIS

"Park Place Presto"

"Park Place Pinkie"

"Champion Park Place Partisan"

"Esperance"

Owned by Miss Hall


THE GRIFFON BRUXELLOIS

I'm a gay tra, la, la,
With my fal, lal, la, la,
And my bright—
And my light—
Tra, la, la.

Bret Harte.

IF you meet a dashing man about town, with a ferocious beard and moustache, a very much abbreviated nose and an ape-like face, you may be sure that he is a Griffon Bruxellois, or, as he is more familiarly termed, a Brussels Griffon. If his inches are few, and his weight is not more than from five to ten pounds, he has all the militant carriage and gay debonnair of an accomplished worldling. Cheek, impudence, pluck, confidence are all his, mixed with, perhaps, a good deal of braggadocia. A modern High School Miss might even say that he had swank, a word which once excited the curiosity of Mr. Justice Darling when trying a case arising out of an election. With all that innocence permitted to the judicial bench, he enquired if it were a local term peculiar to Lowestoft. I regret to say Counsel seemed to regard it as a vulgar word, although I would point out with all diffidence that it is as old as Burns---

Here farmers gash, in ridin graith
Gaed hoddin by their cotters;
There, swankies, young, in braw braid claith
Are springin o'er the gutters.

Of cheerful yesterdays and confident to-morrows, it may be said of him, and the consequence is that if you once have a Griffon you will always want to have one. Although among the toys he is not of them, being a thorough sportsman all the way through. He will do everything that is possible in this direction permitted of his size. I am sure that he has often wished that he were bigger, so that he could take his part with the terriers. The spirit to tackle fox or badger is his if the physique has been denied him.

The name tells you whence he comes, and about seventeen years have passed since he was brought over into this country. Before assenting to the generally accepted version of his origin it would be well to enquire more closely into the matter. It is said that he has sprung from the Yorkshire and Irish Terriers mixed with the English Toy Spaniels, and that the years to his credit as a distinct variety are not many. Is this correct? Mr. Howard Spicer, whose interest in the breed has induced him to make researches on the Continent, thinks otherwise. The picture galleries will help us in our quest. In the painting by Jan Van Eyck, dated 1434, of Arnolfini and his wife we are fortunate enough to have a very clear and lifelike portrait of their pet dog in the foreground. The painter evidently went to some pains over the animal, which in many respects is singularly like the present-day Griffon, the most noticeable divergence being the longer face of Arnolfini's pet. He has not the snub nose of our own dogs, but the photograph of one of the older champions shows that this feature is of recent development.

To cite a further instance, between the years 1554 and 1640, says Mr. Spicer, Jacopo du Empoli is credited with the production of a picture of a dwarf, in the employ of Henry III. of France, which portrays amongst a collection of this monarch's pets, two unmistakeable griffons. After this evidence it will be unwise to jump too readily to the conclusion that the Brussels Griffon is a modern breed fashioned from British materials. We know perfectly well that toy dogs have been in vogue through all ages, and these not only of the spaniel kind. No great exercise of the imagination is needed to see among them the Griffons Bruxellois or their progenitors.

Miss Earl in her picture has well caught the spirit of diablerie manifest in these mannikins. Is it matter for surprise that lovers of the eccentric should profess a devotion for them, that when, for some reason or other, they fell out of favour with the great ladies of the courts and salons, small shopkeepers and working men in Belgium should take them up and pass them on to England, and that our own countrymen succumbed to their quaint looks and ways? We have taken the craze so badly here that better examples can be seen at a leading show in England than can be found in the city after which they are named. The standard says that a griffon should be "intelligent, sprightly, of compact and cobby appearance, attracting one's attention by the quasi-human expression of its face." He is all that, and a good deal more beside. If you want one with the correct points favoured by exhibitors, see that his head is rounded and furnished with irregular hairs; that the upper lip has a moustache, while the chin is prominent or undershot, with a beard beneath. Let the nose be as. short as possible, with a pronounced stop beneath the eyes. Note that the body is short, and that the docked tail has an erect carriage. Insist, too, upon the coat being harsh to the touch, red as that of the Irish terrier. The legs should be straight, and the feet rounded and knuckled up in the manner of a cat's.
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