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The power of the dog/The Miniature Pomeranian

"O mistress mine, 'where are you roaming?"

ShakespeareTwelfth Night.


"Gatacre Betty"

Owned by Mrs. Hall Walker


"In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be."

Ben Jonson.


WHAT do you lack, what do you buy, mistress? A fine hobby horse, to make your son a tilter? a drum, to make him a soldier? a fiddle, to make him a reveller? what is't you lack? little dogs for your daughters?" What is it you buy, mistress? Little dogs for your daughters? Not so, but little dogs for yourselves, and none do you favour more than the Pomeranian, miniature or otherwise---this dainty, elfin-like whimsicality, charming in form, beautiful in colouring, and graceful in manners. The vogue of the Pomeranian calls for no explanation, so self-evident are the reasons. Men as a class are drawn towards the sporting dogs, terriers, setters, pointers, hounds, spaniels, but no woman yet set eyes on one of these midgets without succumbing to its attractions. Rapid though the advances made by the Pekingese have been, the Pomeranian has not lost ground in any sense. It may be that he would have won still more supporters if it had not been for the advent of the Celestial. That I will not dispute, but there are few defections from the ranks of the enthusiasts who have fashioned him into what he is. They remain true, despite the blandishments of others.

The Pomeranian owes his position to no adventitious circumstances; he has won his way into our hearts by sheer merit, until to-day he is to be found among all classes. Queen Alexandra's Marco is said to have ranked high among her many favourites, and he carried himself in a manner which showed a consciousness of his own vast importance. In one respect these dogs differ from most toys. A few years ago the slums of the East End provided Pug breeders with many a fortunate find; in Yorkshire and Lancashire Yorkshire terriers frequently serve as a source of income for the working men, who bring them up in their homes, converting the kitchen dresser into kennels; the Griffon Bruxellois, as has already been mentioned, was preserved from extinction by the labouring classes of Brussels when he had fallen into neglect in high circles. The Pomeranian, on the other hand, is usually a denizen of wealthy or middle class homes, although in certain cases working men and women are the owners of important kennels.

The Pomeranian is not alone an aristocrat of the show pen. Take a walk wherever Society may congregate, in the West End, on the front at Brighton in the winter months, at Harrogate or any other place frequented in its season by members of the great world, and there you will see him in force, escorting his beloved mistress with all the assurance in the world. So gay and irresponsible is his action that you might well describe him as the butterfly of the canine race. No doubt the demand from the general public, regarded from the point of view of the expert, is not wholly without its drawbacks, for the patent reason that, in the efforts to cope with this demand breeders are not always particular about keeping up the level. Having this fact in mind it is encouraging to think there are not more bad ones about.

If Darwin had been living the story of the Pomeranian would have furnished him with some admirable illustrations of the variations that man is capable of producing in the canidæ within the space of a comparatively few years. Half a century ago the dogs that were imported into this country were mainly white, weighing twenty pounds or more. If we enquired into their origin the conclusion would be forced upon us that they were of sub-Arctic extraction, the resemblance to the dogs of the colder regions rendering any other conclusion impossible. We note the similarity in coat, the foxy-shaped head, the tightly-curled tail, and the erect ears.

One has not to be very old to recall the gradual reduction in size, going side by side with the introduction of new and beautiful colours, which are mostly of great brilliance and purity. There are whites, blacks, browns and sables in several shades, orange, blues, beavers, chocolates, black and whites, racoons, tricolours and others⸻a range exemplified by no other variety. One has almost to be an artist to follow the subtle gradations, which, however, can be appreciated by the most commonplace Philistine. When we contemplate the wonderful creations we are amazed at the cleverness of the ladies engaged in the pursuit. Nature plays strange pranks in relation to her colour schemes, and the most skilful breeder is she who has an encyclopædic knowledge of the mingling of blood necessary to bring about a given result. The problem is further complicated by the influence of the law of heredity, and some of the most exquisite shades have come by chance in the first instance.

The desire for small specimens, many of which may weigh no more than two and a half pounds, has led to a sub-division of the variety into Pomeranians and Pomeranians miniature. It is one of the latter that Miss Earl has so well depicted.

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