Friday, June 12, 2009

The Baby Dog

It was a sunny Bank Holiday Monday, and as I was walking down the London's South Bank, a pretty sight caught my eye. A group of children, happy as little Larries, surrounding a dog, doing the usual things that one should never do to a dog like pulling on ears and tail, manic stroking and general doggy interest that any canine companion will curse underneath their breath. And yet, the majestic looking English Bullterrier was taking all these advances with a calm dignified air of a dog that knows a passing fancy or two.

I was not the only one mesmerised by this sight. Many a person stopped by to admire the dog and her possy of tiny admirers. Why? It is perhaps the fierce reputation of a Bullterrier that made passers by stop in their tracks, the preconception that Bullterriers are somehow inherently dangerous, defeated in front of our very eyes.

Holly, who is 10 years-old, did decided to join her owner on the bench, where she trustingly relaxed in his lap with her belly up in the air. Her owner was exceedingly responsible when getting Holly, and made sure that she was well-bred and and well looked after as he was conscious of people who breed Bullterriers only for a financial gain. Holly is deaf, an ailment often attributed to white dogs, as the breeding of white colour attracts genetic impairment. This did not put Robert, Holly's owner, off. He wanted her for what she was, and that is a true love.

If you want to see more lovely London Terriers, please click here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Tea Drinking Dog of Portobello

Meet Mitzy, a 9-year-old Jack Russell terrier. I spotted her immediately as it is not often that you see a dog sitting on man's arm, having her afternoon tea.

She certainly was a lady with character. She gave me some really good poses, but uttered a low growl when I became over familiar for her liking. I quickly understood that she shares such a lovely connection with her owner, that a nosey passer-by with a camera was superfluous, and a rather pesky interruption. And, of course, one should never forget that despite their rather cute looks and diminutive size, Jack Russells are feisty and full of beans.

For me it was a delightful moment caught in time, and I was happy with that.

Mitzy, with her charmingly old fashioned name calmly sipping tea in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Portobello Road Market, with its antique stalls, vintage clothing shops, cafes and the trendy crowd mixed with tourist milling around, made me think of a slightly more whimsical, olde London, a little vignette of things past, the proverbial man and his dog.

To meet other London terriers, click here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Lion King

Meet Diesel. I met him in Old Compton Street, in Soho on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Diesel, with his lithe muscular body and a shiny coppery coloured coat, was very hard to miss indeed, as he was making his way through the crowds, tall and graceful with his two proud owners.

The owners warned me that Diesel, although perfectly polite, is not a fan of posing for photos, but I somehow coerced him into striking a good pose so I was more than pleased to get a good shot of him. This aloofness is a essential part of Ridgeback's character, as Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also known as African Lion Hound, were used for hunting lions. As such, they had to be agile, fearless but also extremely confident and composed. Diesel's formidable physique, paired with the ever so slightly aloof air of calm dignity has more than a lionesque quality to it. Just look at his pose - standing tall, and proud, with an air of quiet confidence about him, one can easily imagine him in an African grassland, rather than on a busy Soho street.

Even when presented with a treat, usually a sure way to any dog's heart, Diesel looked at me regally and turned his beautiful head away in a rather nonchalant way. Now, this gentleman has to be courted! Apparently, Diesel's proud exterior can be chipped with one thing and one thing only - chicken. No wonder a lowly treat was rejected!

It was such a pleasure to meet Diesel. He is a stunning dog with a true Ridgeback personality through and through. Although, next time I bump into him, I must make sure that I have a chicken drumstick at hand, to properly thank him for his contribution!

Ridgeback's name comes from a strip of hair on their back, which grows in a different direction giving it a ridge effect. Incidentally, an almighty row erupted between the animal charities and the Kennel Club,(following the BBC documentary about pedigree breeding standards), as it is apparently accepted to euthanise puppies born without the ridge as they do not confirm to the breed standard, while being perfectly healthy in all other aspects. While the Kennel Club and Ridgeback breeders refuted these accusations by saying that this approach was never actively encouraged and only used where ridgeless puppies could not be successfully homed, one cannot help but think that there is something deeply unsavoury and disturbing in even considering a destruction of a dog, whose only fault is to be born without a trait that is only breed defining rather than an actual health issue.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Welsh Beauty Queen

Meet Indy, a real gem of a dog, in more ways than one. Indy is a Welsh Corgi, an belongs to a dear friend of mine. I was lucky to join Indy and Dean for a walk in the lovely Holland Park on Saturday.

Indy is such a little stunner that as we walked through the park, she turned many a head, and attracted lots of admiring glances from passers by. Sturdy and low, with fabulous sandy coloured fluffy coat, immaculately curled tail, perfectly shaped little face and eyes sparkling with bouncy attitude, she is a perfect Corgi. What she has in looks, she doubles in her character, as she is an incredibly charming and lively girl. She was very excited to be out and about, and was trotting along happily, making friends with dogs and children, and perusing the peacocks, which proudly displayed their fabulous plumage to the gathered crowds.

She did have a few naughty turns, and had to be gently reprimanded, but that's only to be expected. Corgis are fiercely intelligent, and as a herding breed, have a mind of their own and like to work independently.

Corgis are an iconic breed in every sense of the word. Not only their looks are very distinctive, but they are also the favourite breed of Queen Elizabeth II, and as such often receive as much of press coverage as the Royal Family themselves. If you have a look at this photo of the Queen and her Corgi, you would not be surprised to see our Indy on her lap, fitting in perfectly.

To find out more about Corgis, click here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Dog of White Christmas

Meet Birgit, a 4-year-old Samoyed beauty.

I met her on a sunny Boxing Day in Wandsworth. It was hard to miss her as she was bouncing around happily, white and fluffy like a snowflake. Birgit played with such a verve and vigour that I simply could not take my eyes off her, and immediately decided to approach her owner.

It was a cold day and people hurried around wrapped up in as many layers of clothing as possible. Birgit, however, was unperturbed by the wintry weather, and in fact seemed to enjoy it. Samoyeds are a Siberian breed and as such, their thick, double-layered coat is particularly well suited to cold temperatures. The Swedish origins of her name suit her perfectly, bringing up images of snowy wilderness.

Her owner tells me that Birgit adores fun and games more than anything else, and it does not surprise me. Samoyeds are working dogs, bred to pull sleighs and herd reindeer in sub-zero temperatures, which means that they need plenty of exercise and have to be kept busy. The sheer energy of Birgit's bouncing around would rival a small power station. She was running around, jumping up and hopping about like a furry white kangaroo.

When I managed to get her sitting down to pose, I was taken aback by how graceful and beautiful she was. Her dark eyes shone in her happy white face, and I dare say, she was almost flirtatious in her bubbly buoyant attitude. Just look at the come-hither look in her eyes! No wonder her owner adores her, and she is clearly the apple of his eye.

For Birgit's coat to look as stunning and snow-white as it is, she needs a lot of brushing and a monthly bath. Interestingly enough, Samoyed's coat is semi-waterproof so it takes a long time to get it soaking wet. Samoyeds are a resilient and hardy breed. The first dog to reach the North Pole with Roald Amundsen was a Samoyed so the breed has a long history of serving the humans in the most inhospitable and challenging conditions on earth.

It was a real pleasure to meet Birgit. She was a truly adorable little spark, and brought a spirit of white Christmas to the otherwise snow-free London.

If you want to find out more about Samoyeds, please visit The Northern Samoyed Society.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Jazzy Hooch

Meet Hooch, an 11-year-old Staffordshire Bullterrier.

I bumped into Hooch outside the Brixton tube station on a rainy evening, as he was busking along Selwyn, his owner. As commuters were rushing out of the station in a steady stream, Hooch was looking on, his chunky sturdy body, and his wide friendly face unperturbed by the the crowds milling around him. His relaxed attitude had a bit of a real Hooch about him, rather like a warming shot of whisky on a cold day like today, so I just had to stop and have a chat.

His owner, Selwyn, was busy talking to a passer by, so I made my introductions to Hooch myself. Hooch, a true professional, knew how to work a fan straight away. At the first mention of the word treat, followed by my looking for the box in my bag, Hooch stuck his wide face inside it and proceeded to muzzle around, helping me to find it.

Several treats and suggestive looks later, I was seduced. Hooch was not only fabulously expressive in his manner, shooting surreptitious glances at the treat box, tilting his head and being an absolute charmer, but also very polite and gentlemanly, offering his paw and placing it firmly in my hand.

Selwyn, his owner, told me that the Hooch used to stay at home when Selwyn went out busking. Hooch, the natural born entertainer that he is, used to mope about being left behind, so Selwyn decided to take him along, on a condition that Hooch would busk too. And sure enough, once the saxophone sounded the first couple of bars of Gershwin's Summertime,
Hooch joined in with a low howl, fully in keeping with the soulful jazzy tune!

Hooch is a real performer and loves dressing up. His favourite outfit is a policeman's uniform, but unfortunately, Hooch was not on duty today. Selwyn promised me that he will wear it next time around so stay tuned!

The light was not that great at the entrance to the station so when I initially looked at the pics of Hooch, I was a bit worried that they did not convey the full character of this very special dog. Then I decided to turn them black and white, and bingo! Hooch looked like a 30s jazz star in a smoky club.

I must say that meeting Hooch was a real highlight of the day. A dog with such a personality and panache is a real find. See you around Hooch!

To meet other London terriers please click here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Days of Thunder

Meet Thor. Not the Norse god of thunder, but an adorable Labrador puppy, who I bumped into in Brompton Road, just around the corner from the V&A museum.

Words cannot describe how adorable he was, with his chunky paws, happy clumsiness of a puppy, bounding enthusiastically on the leash, in very high spirits despite the miserable weather. Labrador puppies are known for their looks, and it's not a coincidence that the most famous puppy in UK is in fact a Labrador, the 'Andrex' puppy ads dog voiced by Rik Mayall, has become a part of the colloquial language and British culture.

Thor was, in fact, so vivacious and full of beans, that my friend Dean had to assist with the photo shoot, which resulted in one of the funniest shots on The London Dog to date. Just look at the paws akimbo, and the sheer radiance on his face (Thor's, not Dean's) - simply irresistible!

Thor's owner clearly adores him, and has gone through a lot of trouble to ensure that he got the healthiest and best Labrador pup he could find. Mind you, when he told me that Thor was first at his feet, chewing on his fingers and generally making himself immediately indispensable, it seems that it was Thor who chose and found his owner, not the other way around!

Thor is extremely sociable and his main hobby is pursuing other dogs in the park to play and frolick around. His owner also produced a chewed up rope toy from his pocket, which Thor loves to chew and play with in the park.

His puppy manners aside, when I offered him a treat, he was very well-behaved, titlting his head in a cutest way possible, and taking the treat very gently from my hand, so I do have very high hopes indeed for this young gentleman. Good luck Thor! I am sure you will grow up to be a real Labrador stunner.

To see other Labradors and Retrievers please click here

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dog's life

No posts for a while as London Dog went to Marrakech for a much deserved holiday. However, as an intrepid explorer of all things canine, London Dog could not resist documenting the life of Marrakechi dogs.

Morocco is a Muslim country so dogs are not usually kept as pets as Q'ran sees them as impure. There are many interpretations of this, with some scholars seeing all dogs as inferior and impure, and some allowing exceptions, like in the case of working dogs, be it for herding sheep, police work or as guide dogs. Here is a useful and succinct explanation of the rules.

Having said that, I have seen people having dogs as pets so like all rules, they are to be broken. They seemed happy and well looked after, like the little Ruza below. I met him in one of the many enchanting tiny streets in the Medina. One has to haggle for everything in Marrakech, so even taking this photo was a bit of a business transaction. 10 dirhams changed hands, and I was allowed to take his photo. Ruza was very friendly and sweet, and very well looked after, with his coat silky and smooth. The breed is hard to determine, but a King Charles Cavalier comes to mind, just from looking at his snub muzzle, colouring and coat texture.

I also met this little fellow, who resides in a Dar Mimoun, one of the beautiful
riad style hotels in the Medina. In the oasis of greenery and calm atmosphere of the courtyard restaurant, the little mutt was barking very loudly at the visitors, guarding his patch.

Unfortunately, there are also examples homeless dogs, that simply roam the streets and feed on scraps of food lying around. I saw this one, quite a young puppy, sleeping in the street, avoiding the heat in a shadow on an old wheelbarrow.

The homeless dogs live cheek by jowl with the enormous population of feral cats. Cats are a part and parcel of Marrakech life, hundreds of them walking around, lithe and thin, weaving around restaurant tables hoping for some food. They are everywhere, walking the streets, sleeping in the shade of the goods displayed in on the stalls, in the back alleys, and in the souks, the traditional markets.

However unfair or nearly heartbreaking it may seem to the Western eye, it is a reality of the poor countries, that animals like dogs and cats are very low down the pecking order. In a city where women, children, the old, infirm and disabled beg on the streets, a homeless dog or cat is the least of anybody's worries. It simply gives one another perspective on life, one not as clear cut and comfortable as the Western one.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Meet CJ. Not the CJ from Baywatch but an equally beautiful (and somewhat less cliched in her beauty), Border Collie and a Whippet cross.

I met CJ in South Molton Street today. I spotted her from a distance, as she was sitting in the middle of the pedestranised street, graceful and lithe, with a purposeful air of a dog waiting for its owner about her. Tom, her owner, was just few feet away, selling the Big Issue magazine.

The little stunner is nearly 2 years old, slim and elegant, both traits of a whippet, with that unmistakable alertness and intelligence of a Collie, that makes her very special indeed.

CJ is a rescue dog, and Tom got her in Edinburgh when she was a puppy and they have been inseparable ever since.

Tom had lived on the streets in the past, but recently he managed to get accommodation, and gets by selling the Big Issue, so luckily both him and CJ now have a home. Tom and CJ are regulars in South Molton Street, which is filled with lovely expensive boutiques, and in some way illustrate the rich tapestry of London life where fortune and misfortune live cheek by jowl.

CJ is a bright spark in Tom's life, his faithful companion and a comfort in difficult situations. She is also extremely well behaved, responsive, attentive and polite. She sat beautifully for the treats, and followed her owner with adoring eyes. Tom tells me that she is so intelligent that most of these behaviours are self-taught, which is definitely a dream of any unruly dog owner (yes, I am talking about you Kevin!).

I have recently written about Clyde, who also lives on the streets in London, and I sincerely hope he is feeling better now. The patient and loving companionship of an animal when one finds oneself in a difficult situation can never be underestimated so please spare a thought, and buy the Big Issue next time you see Tom in South Molton Street.

To meet other London Collies please click here, and to see Whippets and Greyhounds have a look here.

Monday, September 08, 2008


It is the first time that London Dog features a dog and his owner in one shot.

There is a reason for this exception. Amber, a 6-year-old Alsatian cross, clearly adores her owner Tony so much, that there was no way I would get a photo of her without him in the picture too. Just look at the adoring eyes and trusting pose!

Amber, who came from the Battersea Dogs Home at the age of 9 months, is a perfect example of how an unwanted dog (she was abandoned by a motorway, not to put too fine a point to it, to die), flourishes and brings happiness to people's lives.

At the first attempt of taking a photo, Amber simply started bouncing up so high, that one could easily think that she was a Alsatian and Kangaroo cross! I have never seen a dog jumping so high with such grace and ease, so this lady clearly knows her tricks.

Amber clearly shows her Alsatian (German Shepherd) heritage in her dark coat with russet coloured patches, and beautiful hazel brown eyes.

She has a mischievous streak in her and uses her agility to her own devices. Her owner tells me that she opens kitchen cupboards and helps herself to food, especially flour which does become a very messy business indeed!

Amber was bright and sparkly when I met her, thanks to a 4 hour walk with Tony, who always makes sure that she has a super-long walk during weekends to compensate for the working week.

It was a pleasure to meet Tony and Amber, a perfect duo of a man and his dog, clearly adoring each other and sharing a very special connection that all devoted animal lovers will recognise as so rewarding in having a dog, especially one that was given a chance, not awarded to many abandoned dogs.

To find your perfect canine match visit the Dogs Blog.

To explore adoption options from Battersea Dogs Home, please visit their website.