From Anecdotes of Dogs, by Edward Jesse, Esq., London: Bell & Daldy; 1870; pp. 412-417.
PUGS came into fashion, and probably first into this country, in the early part of the reign of William the Third, and were then called Dutch pugs. At that time they were generally decorated with orange ribbons, 413 and were in great request amongst the courtiers, from the king being very partial to them.
It is difficult to say how this partiality arose, though it may perhaps be accounted for by the following anecdote, related in a scarce old book, called “Sir Roger Williams’ Actions in the Low Countries,” printed in 1618.
“The Prince of Orange (father of William III.) being retired into the camp, Julian Romero, with earnest persuasions, procured license of the Duke d’Alva to hazard a camisado, or night attack, upon the prince. At midnight Julian sallied out of the trenches with a thousand armed men, mostly pikes, who forced all the guards that they found in their way into the place of arms before the Prince’s tent, and killed two of his secretaries. The Prince himself escaped very narrowly, for I have often heard him say that he thought but for a dog he should have been slain. The attack was made with such resolution, that the guards took no alarm until their fellow were running to the place of arms, with their enemies at their heels, when this dog, hearing a great noise, fell to scratching and crying, and awakened him before any of his men; and though the Prince slept armed, with a lacquey always holding one of his horses ready bridled and saddled, yet, at the going out of his tent, with much ado he recovered his horse before the enemy arrived. Nevertheless, one of his equerries was slain taking 414 horse presently after him, as were divers of his servants. The Prince, to show his gratitude, until his dying day kept one of that dog’s race, and so did many of his friends and followers. These animals were not remarkable for their beauty, being little white dogs, with crooked noses, called Camuses (flat-nosed).”
It is difficult to account for the origin of this breed of dogs. So far from having any of the courage of the bulldog, which they resemble somewhat in miniature, they are extremely cowardly. They are also occasionally treacherous in their disposition, and will take strong dislikes to particular persons.
The passion of the late Lady Penrhyn for pugs was well known. Tow of these, mother and daughter, were in the eating-room of Penrhyn Castle during the morning call of a lady, who partook of luncheon. On bonnets and shawls being ordered for the purpose of taking a walk in the grounds, the oldest dog jumped on a chair, and looked first at a cold fowl, and then at her daughter. The lady remarked to Lady Penrhyn that they certainly had a design on the tray. The bell was therefore rung, and a servant ordered to take it away. The instant the tray disappeared, the elder pug, who had previously played the agreeable with all her might to the visitor, snarled and flew at her, and during the whole walk followed her, growling and snapping at her heels whenever opportunity served. 415 The dog certainly went through two or three links of inference, from the disappearance of the coveted spoil to Lady Penrhyn’s order, and from Lady Penrhyn’s order to the remark made by her visitor.
Monsieur Blaze, in his “History of Dogs,” mentions one who was taught to pronounce several words. The editor of the “Dumfries Courier” has declared most solemnity that the “heard a pug repeatedly pronounce the word ‘William,’ almost as distinctly as ever it was enunciated by a human voice. He saw the dog lying on a rug before the fire, when one of his master’s sons, whose name is William, and to whom e is more obedient than to any one else, happened to give him a shove, when the animal ejaculated, for the first time, the word ‘William.’ The whole party were as much amazed as Balaam was when his ass spoke; and though they could hardly believe their own ears, one of them exclaimed, ‘Could you really find it in your heart to hurt the poor dog after he has distinctly pronounced your name?’ This led to a series of experiments, which have been repeated for the satisfaction of various persons, but still the animal performs with difficulty. When his master seizes his fore-legs, and commanded him to say ‘William,’ he treats the hearer with a gurring voluntary; and after this species of music has been protracted for a longer or a shorter period, his voice seems to fall a full octave before he comes out with the important word.”416
In the “Bibliothèque Germanique,” published in 1720, there is an account of a dog at Berlin, who was made to pronounce a few words, but the one which he ejaculated most distinctly was “Elizabeth.” Sir William Gell also had a dog which was well known to repeat some words, but it should be mentioned that he never did this except his master held his jaws in a peculiar way.*
It has been said of the pug dog that he is applicable to no sport, appropriated to no useful purpose, susceptible of no predominant passion, and in no way remarkable for any pre-eminent quality. He seems, indeed, to be the patient follower of a ruminating philosopher, or the adulatory and consolatory companion of an old maid; but is now gradually becoming discarded as a pet, and is seldom seen peeping out of a carriage window or basking in a London balcony.
THE COMFORTER, of which a portrait is given at the head of the present chapter, is a rare and beautiful little dog, apparently a cross between the Maltese and King Charles spaniel. His colour is generally white, with black or brown patches; his ears are long, and his head broad on the upper part, with an acute muzzle; his hair is long over the whole body, with the fore legs feathered; his tail is curled, and feathered 417 with very long hairs. This is the smallest of any of the distinct races of dogs, and is frequently not above a foot from the tip of the nose to the point of the tail.
* For other instances of speaking dogs see ante, p. 49.