There has been, almost without exception, a fox terrier in my family for the last 55 years. I can barely remember a time without a funny, furry companion by my side. My Nanna was responsible for my love of this breed and I was interested to hear how she first became captivated. In 1932 she worked at a hotel and the manager there owned a fox terrier. The dog was popular with the regulars who fussed him at the end of the bar, secured by a lead, or else he would have trotted off unaccompanied. They gave him treats to abate his warbling howl in protest of his owner playing the fiddle! At times when the hotel was less busy, he appreciated my Nanna’s offer of a walk, so their relationship bonded as they exercised together.
Fox terriers rose in popularity in the 1930’s, possibly as film-goers enjoyed the antics of Nick and Nora Charles, fictional detective characters created by Dalshiell Hammett. In his ‘Thin Man’ novels the couple were fabulously wealthy and loved drinking Martinis and Manhattan cocktails. Together with their fox terrier, Asta, they solved crimes together. Asta was loyal to his owners and immensely popular with their fans due to his comical ways. He cleverly detected clues, created diversions and rescued them from tricky situations. Many must have believed that a little fox terrier could bring fun and glamour to their lives too!
The name ‘fox terrier’ refers to the smooth terrier and the wire-haired variety whose coats have a coarse texture. They were bred in England in the mid 19th century to hunt out vermin and rabbits and to assist in fox hunting. The dogs had stamina and the ability to access the narrow entrances to fox lairs.
Our terriers have all displayed characteristics of loyalty, mischievous character and high spirits. The accolade of naughtiest dog is awarded to Judy, my Nanna’s dog. She was a strong willed entertainer whose greed got her into many scrapes. She used to steal chocolates if the tin was left open and walked on her hind legs so she could see what foods were on the tea table. In the austere days of the outside toilet, she delighted in running downstairs first so that she could steal the toilet roll and shred it. Once, while my Nanna chatted with a friend at the bakers, Judy was tempted by something at eye level. She launched herself into the window and snaffled some cream cakes, causing both embarrassment and expense to her owner. It seems there was never a dull moment!
In bygone times, Whitley Bay was popular with Scottish tourists who visited in the last week of July and first week of August. This was known as ‘Scottish fortnight’ and on the mile-long promenade called 'The Links', there were Scottish dancing displays and bagpipe music was played. Judy was terrified of the wailing sound and would take off with her ears back and tail down, to find a place of safety. She also disliked men carrying ladders and people in uniform, but we don't know why!
My dogs have brought me joy and laughter all my life. Fox terriers are simply the best!
© Angela Craddock 2021-08-05