Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday 2 February 2012

To Say Nothing of The Dog

The dapper gentleman in the above photograph is my great-grandfather William (1867-1952) with his dog, Don, a Welsh Terrier. This picture has only recently come into my possession and is the only one of two, to my knowledge where a dog features in a sepia family photograph. I asked my mother what she knew and Mum volunteered the dog’s name, and told me that on a Sunday morning William would take a bar of soap and join other men, bathing their dogs in the nearby river at Trent Bridge. For some reason the above picture of William in his straw boater makes me think of Jerome K Jerome’s very funny book; ‘Three Men in a Boat -To say nothing of the Dog’ (to give it its full title).

I have a copy of that book, bought by my father for my mother on her 21st birthday and grew up reading and re-reading the hilarious escapades of the four protagonists. The naughty dog in Jerome’s book is called Montmorency, a Fox Terrier .

“To look at Montmorency you would imagine that he was an angel sent upon the earth, for some reason withheld from mankind, in the shape of a small fox terrier. There is a sort of Oh-what-a-wicked-world-this-is-and-how-I-wish-I-could-do-something-to-make-it-better-and-nobler expression about Montmorency that has been known to bring the tears into the eyes of pious old ladies and gentlemen.”

The book is out of copyright and there are numerous versions on the web, but for a very funny description of a dog creating havoc with the packing, scroll to the end of Chapter IV, or just google ‘the awful behaviour of Montmorency’.

I haven’t owned a dog since I was a child, but I do have a fondness for them, especially in sepia. I don’t collect postcards, but I do have published books full of old photographs and cards, and six of them are about dogs!

All are full of wonderful images of people  with their dogs. ‘Prince and other Dogs’ by Libby Hall was the one which started it all off.

 My second photograph is of my paternal grandfather, Sam, in 1902. The only one we have of him as a boy. Sitting next to him is his big sister, Sarah, known by my Dad as Aunt Cis; she was the sweetshop lady in my post, 'Open All Hours’. We don’t know anything about the dog, but he does have a look of Montmorency about him. He’s looking quizically at the camera and I bet he’s contemplating mischief of some sort, which is why Sam is holding on to him.

Alan gave us a fine photo prompt entitled ‘A Man With a Dog’  for this week’s Sepia Saturday challenge. I immediately thought of the old BBC TV series; One Man and His Dog, about sheepdog trials, which was popular with viewers for years. People were fascinated by the trust and teamwork between the shepherd and his dog. I resisted the urge to use this as a title for my post, but I’m sure someone else will do so.

I have a weakness for scallywags like Montmorency. Whilst a well-behaved dog is a delight I’m sure, there’s something endearing about a dog who is a bit of a rogue. William Shakespeare wrote a wonderful monologue for Launce, the clown in 'Two Gentlemen of Verona’, where he talks of the trouble his dog Crab has got himself and his master into, as Launce sought to cover up Crab’s misdeeds.

Here’s another little rascal, called Buster, and his master, Keith, who was my old window cleaner about twelve years ago. Buster accompanied Keith on his rounds, and when he got tired he’d have a nap in Keith’s Reliant Robin parked outside. Buster went everywhere with his master, I even spotted him in town one New Year’s Eve tucked up inside Keith’s coat, with just his nose peeping out, enjoying the fireworks.

I haven’t seen them for over ten years and, as Buster was already well past puppyhood, I imagine he’s no longer with us. Montmorency, Don, Crab, Buster and Granddad Sam’s little rascal, all faithful companions who brought a smile to the face. And here is Kim my childhood pet. He was only little but was very brave. he liked to sit on the windowsill and bark at any perceived threat - from safely behind the glass- and one day he barked  so hard he fell off and broke his leg!

Kim (1963-1976)
Canine Conversation
"Engraved on the collar of the dog which I gave to His Royal Highness.” - Alexander Pope
I am His Majesty’s dog at Kew,
Pray tell me Sir whose dog are you?

Repy to the above query: (as imagined by me)
I am the dog at ’24’
Where I have my family under my paw.
I sit in the window and keep an eye
On any strangers passing by.

For more stories and pictures, grab the lead and walk the dog over to Sepia Saturday.


  1. Nice and funny post. The first photo of your grandfather and Don does look like they should be in "Three Men in a Boat".

  2. Oh, Nell, what a wonderful post full of such variety. Now I know who to send an antique book of dogs to ... I'll keep my eyes open!

    Thanks so much for stopping by to see me,

    Kathy M.

  3. Your dapper grandfather seems well matched in this photo. I love all terriers - and almost equally. Welsh terriers are wonderful, as are Irish terriers, and Scottish terriers, and Airedales too.

  4. A tremendous post,Nell. I'm glad you reminded me about Montmorency. Every time a see a dog called Buster I think of Roy Hattersley's dog and Buster's Secret Diaries. But as dogs are all domesticated wolves Jack London's White Fang takes some beating. Dog may be in your first photo but he really wanted to be off, the other side of the fence.

  5. Great post - lovely photographs and memories of dogs and people.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  6. Lovely post, Little Nell. I'm a fan of 'Three Men in a Boat', and have recently downloaded it for my Kindle, free.

    Suddenly, I'm reminded of Michael Rosen.

    "Down behind the dustbin I met a dog named Sid
    He said he didn’t know me but I’m pretty sure he did."

  7. The resemblance of your great-grandfather and Don to the story of the boaters and Montmorency tickles me.

  8. We have a Jack Russell now, a little dog of great character and cunning!! He's training us well!!

  9. I often end up in the doghouse...

  10. Quite a bunch of cuties. I would love to look through the books of dog photos. I had a book of Presidents' dogs and I used to collect dog postcards before I got cats.

  11. That's a very nice picture of your great-grandfather William, and the story of Kim falling of the windowsill is funny, although it must have been painful for the dog.

  12. Oh such a funny, light-hearted and completely dog filled post! Your grandfather and his dog is most special! A very fine tribute to a dog of many colors!

  13. Your posts go from strength to strength. You take the themes and add so much value, and this particular theme seems to have been right up your street. Fascinating detail about washing the dogs in the River Trent : I must try that with Amy down in the River Calder.

  14. Love that photo of your grandfather and his dog.

    Dee at Shakin' the Family Tree

  15. Nell, I enjoyed this immensely! The top photo is spiffing, and you are so lucky to have it, but I also loved the photo of Buster and his Master and your story of them on New Year's Eve.

    I count myself fortunate to be one of those who has a copy of Jerome K. Jerome's , "Three Men in a Boat - To Say Nothing of the Dog". When my husband was reading it a number of years ago, he would often stop and read me passages along the way. One section in particular brought us both to tears with the giggles! One of those great moments we recall fondly.

    Montmorency is such a great name for a dog, isn't it?

  16. You start with a dapper gentleman and end with a dapper dog. Wearing that hat your Great Grandfather reminds me of the paintings of Parisians at leisure by the Impressionists. Love the picture on the front of the 'Noble Hounds...' book.

  17. They say owners grow to resemble their dogs or vice versa, and I think that must be the case with your great-grandfather!

  18. Two super dog and master photos. The first really captures an era too.

  19. Nell, I enjoyed all your dog photos and the stories that accompanied them, but I can say say for sure that if I had encountered Buster in person, I would have been tempted to steal him. What an adorable scruffy face.

  20. You found a nice variety of doggy-related items, Kathy. Great grandpa looks very smart in his boater, and all the dogs are cute, but little Kim in his basket is adorable. And, as for barking so hard that he fell off the windowsill! Jo (imagespast - can't leave a comment using my Wordpress account, and can't find a solution!)

    1. You’ve popped up ok as Jo here, as usual. I however am still Little Nell - not Kathy - It’s a nice name though:)

    2. Woops, sorry, Little Nell - must have had a mental aberration :-) It appears Blogger has rolled out new software and my problem using my WP ImagesPast ID only occurs if the blog has threaded or embedded comments enabled. I have to use my Google account instead. Jo :-)

  21. Wonderful post and such a great bunch of dogs. Each one cuter than the next. The photo of your great grandfather is a real classic. What would the world be like without dogs?

  22. Fabulous doggy post - it is great to see old photos with dogs in them. I have never owned a dog but my hubby had a jack russell as a boy and i know he would love to own another one :o) Scarlett x

  23. Mystery solved as I can now see what could have been my connection to the theme.
    Well done!! Wish I had known about this...

  24. Great Post Nell. I always love the way dog's pose.The Seem to know exactly the purpose of photography!!!

  25. Well, that was perfectly wonderful! I loved every word and all the pictures. I'm quite fond of Montmorency, and have considered naming a dog after him.


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