Pup links!

A lady and her English cocker spaniel. Source: LIFE magazine archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web:

If the Characters in Downton Abbey Were Portrayed by Canine Actors… A friend shared this on my Facebook wall, and I just had to share it here, too. If you watch the period soap opera Downton Abbey, you will appreciate these comparisons. I think they’re pretty spot-on. Matthew is totally a golden retriever and Mary makes a lot of sense as a poodle. And, poor Edith! The Bedlington terrier! (Dogster)

How to Properly Care for Your Dog’s Teeth. Canine dental hygiene is usually pretty terrible, and, from my experience, it’s an easy thing to forget to take care of–and not exactly fun when you do. This is a thorough article, however, that reminds us all of why it’s very important to care for our dog’s pearly whites. (The Whole Dog Journal)

Investigating Halitosis. Related to doggy dental care, here’s a veterinarian’s list of possible causes of your dog’s terrible breath. (The Bark blog)

Where’s the Beef? Subtitle: “Why your dog should never eat another Milk Bone or Beggin Strip, and you should avoid the Slim Jims.” You won’t ever want to buy those products again after you read this article by Amy Renz. (Goodness Gracious Treats)

Identifying Merle. I grew up with a beautiful tricolor merle Australian shepherd and I’ve always had a fondness for merle coats, especially when they come from conscientious breeders. But I learned a ton from this post and learned that I’ve been incorrectly identifying some dogs as “merle” that really aren’t. Fascinating stuff. (Musings of a Biologist and a Dog Lover)

House Rules and Time-Outs. Aleksandra shares her wisdom about how they use “time-outs” to teach their newly adopted pitt, The Dude, some house manners. Great, gentle, and effective advice. (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)

Binq Design. If I was in the market for a tiny dog, and had a lot of cash to spare, I think I’d definitely consider these functional and attractive side tables + dog beds. They look like they’d be a nice place for a toy breed to hide out during family commotion. (Dog Milk)

Bambino vs. Fido: On Loving Dogs Less. Shauna, a pregnant blogger, reflects on how her relationship with her dogs will change–and stay the same–when she welcomes her baby into the world. I found this post very reassuring. As someone who hasn’t had kids yet but plans to one day, I confess I’m frankly terrified of the idea of emotionally displacing my future dogs. But, as she points out in this post, you don’t displace your dogs in your heart; you just make room. (Fido & Wino)

BFFs. Greyhounds snuggling on the couch. So cute. (Hiking Hounds)

Religious Dog Bumper Stickers. OK, pretend bumper stickers, but these still made me giggle. My favorite: “I’m Catholic but my corgi is affiliated with the Church of England.” (Dogs of the Interwebs)

Dog Refuses to Go Into Pool to Get Tennis Ball He Desperately Needs. In need of a laugh on this fine Tuesday? Look no further than this very, very determined golden retriever and his quest for one slightly out-of-reach tennis ball. (Best Week Ever)

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Gallery of sporting dogs

If I didn’t get a dog from the herding group, I think I’d be next most likely to pick a dog from the sporting group. They’re also high energy, but they tend to be friendlier overall and perhaps have more potential to be easygoing. Sporting dogs don’t stress too much–unless there is a threat of the game of fetch ending.

(Click on a photo to be taken to its source.)

English setter

English setter

English cocker spaniel

English cocker spaniel

Golden retriever

Golden retriever puppy

Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

My perpetual society

First edition cover of Virginia Woolf's biography of Flush. Click for source.

“He & I are inseparable companions, and I have vowed him my perpetual society in exchange for his devotion.”

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning on Flush

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone! I’ll be out of commission for the rest of the week and am looking forward to spending some quality time with Dublin & Co. and Aoive. Hope your weekend is peaceful and bright. See you Monday.

She makes him believe in God

Leonard Woolf and Pinka, Monk's House, 1931. Source: Smith College

“Your puppy has destroyed, by eating holes, my skirt, ate L’s proofs, and done such damage as could be done to the carpet–But she is an angel of light. Leonard says seriously she makes him believe in God–and this is after she has wetted his floor 8 times in one day.”

Virginia Woolf, in a letter to Vita Sackville-West, on the cocker spaniel Pinka, which Sackville-West gave to the Woolfs as a present.

Review: Flush, a Biography

Flush, a Biography, by Virginia Woolf

Most people who know me know two things about me: that I am obsessed with dogs and Virginia Woolf.

You can imagine my delight when, many years ago, I learned that Woolf had written a biography of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s beloved cocker spaniel, Flush. My two favorite things, together at last! I wrote my honors thesis on Woolf and her portrayal of mothers as artists in her novels, but never got around to reading Flush as part of my research.

At long last, this summer, I finally picked it up. For a deep Woolf devotee as myself, I could not be disappointed. And I wasn’t. Flush is a delightful, humorous memoir of the great love between a woman and her spaniel. Woolf naturally takes a good deal of creative license with this “biography”–since Flush and Barrett Browning lived many decades before her time–but taking creative license is what Woolf does best.

Flush is funny and charming, just like the loyal spaniel himself. Rumor has it that Woolf developed much of the portrait of Flush based on her own English cocker spaniel, Pinka.

I think what I was most surprised and delighted by was how well Woolf seemed to understand dogs. Reportedly, she was not as much of a dog person as her husband, Leonard, was, but she was clearly attentive to them. Her approximation of a dog’s perspective seems to be quite accurate, judging from what we now know about a dog’s power of scent compared to our own.

Listen to this passage from the novel, in which Flush gets carried away by an overpowering and alluring scent:

But suddenly down the wind came tearing a smell sharper, stronger, more lacerating than any–a smell that ripped across his brain stirring a thousand instincts, releasing a million memories–the smell of hare, the smell of fox. Off he flashed like a fish drawn in a rush through water further and further. He forgot his mistress; he forgot all humankind. He heard dark men cry ‘Span! Span!’ He heard whips crack. He raced; he rushed. At last he stopped bewildered; the incantation faded; very slowly, wagging his tail sheepishly, he trotted back across the fields to where Miss Mitford stood shouting ‘Flush! Flush! Flush!’ and waving her umbrella.

“He forgot all humankind.” How often I have seen a dog do the same thing! The beauty of Flush, besides uniting my two great loves, was to remind me to think more like a dog. Woolf certainly seemed to be able to–and she channels this ability into a delightful fictional memoir of one very loved spaniel.