A dogged pursuit

Queen Elizabeth (right) holds her corgi while younger sister, Princess Margarest feeds the dog with biscuits. The author says Queen Elizabeth II did a good job on her dogs. Picture: AP

The royal corgi dogs no doubt led royally laid-back lives with the late Queen Elizabeth II. She was widely respected by many in Fiji.

If I had anything rude to think or say about their various highnesses I could curb my tongue by reflecting how kind they were to dogs.

The palace pets probably ate excellent home cooked scraps. Or that tinned meat in gravy that has a picture of a cute white terrier on the label.

The palace pets were surely trained early to avoid roughing up the Royal Gamekeeper or going mob-handed after the royal hounds on the hunt.

Certainly to avoid peeing in an ambassador’s shoe. They would have learnt to treat visitors with respect or at least ignore them with royal disdain.

They couldn’t really look down their royal corgi noses at anyone. They were far too short and dumpy.

If I had been a princess or something similar I would have chosen animals that stressed the diversity of the United Kingdom.

Oh sure, your Welsh corgies could be in it. But what about Irish Wolfhounds? Or those appealing wee Scotties with square heads.

Or even those slobbering sad cases called British bulldogs. There were monarchs and their Mrs’ who had a liking for spaniels; you see them sometimes featured in poems and paintings.

‘I am his highness’s dog at Kew. Pray tell me sir, whose dog are you?’ wrote poet Alexander Pope in 1730-something to inscribe on the collar of a prince’s pet.

Actually a Prince Charles spaniel would probably have been an appropriate palace pet for King William III.

I had a cousin who bred spaniels, mostly those known as Golden Cockers. They were never invited to Buckingham Palace that I knew about.

Neither would my grandchildren receive many invitations… one of them would surely insist on dancing for royalty in an extremely innovative style (violent, actually) and the other would tell the monarch how to run the country properly.

According to her it is best if a child of ten or less is in charge.

The first dog I had, as opposed to the herd of ankle-nippers my cousin was chief shepherd for, was a dear short-haired terrier.

It just turned up one day at our new place — it turned out that it had belonged to the previous owner, and it kept coming back to the house it knew so well. His actual owner was a despicable man who beat the dog with a lump of firewood every time we brought him back.

After seeing this disgraceful treatment we agreed the dog was right to run away.

So the next time he ran away to us, we kept him. Until, that is, his untimely demise by a council rubbish truck.

The council workers apologised fulsomely and took him away for a proper council burial, whatever that was.

I had to give up on pets for a good while as I shifted around but eventually met and fell deeply in affection, if not genuine love, with the first corgi of my acquaintance.

He belonged to a woman who lived alone nearby, and who was no longer very interested in taking him for walkies.

But I was. Local people assumed he belonged to me and would ask his name and other stuff. I made up all sorts of canine histories and names for him. He was from an upper middle-class home, o I mostly used to call him Basil.

He was really named something excessively ordinary, such as Bingo or Boozo.

After my Victorian-style grandfather passed away, things got a lot freer at home, and to be honest a lot more fun for people and their new pets.

My grandma and I turned p the radio tuned to the stations we liked. Then we got a dog from the pound. He as full black with a curly tail and jolly personality.

She decided his name was Dooley. The whole neighbourhood loved him and he would trot from one door to another, giving sharp knock with his nose.

Several recently retired husbands were confused to discover his wife opening the door and getting down the biscuit tin on the knock of a smallish, rather unimpressive animal named Dooley.

Not a secret suburban lover, then. I don’t know how the lovable creature missed out on a palace invitation.

Probably when the letterbox was victim to yet another snail attack (rampant in our verdant suburban flower gardens). We believe he was dognapped on Christmas eve.

Possibly by some parent who got well lit at the office Christmas party and thought he would solve the Christmas present problem for his family of multiple children.

Dooley was an obliging canine and probably fitted into the plot.

He was getting sick of sharing our compound with a growing number of pets that included a duck, a cat who mostly lived next door, a bitey pink and grey galah and a bossy budgerigar.

Grandma taught it to shout at me to ‘hurry up or you’ll miss the bus.’

While old dog Dooley’s disappearance was devastating, I wasn’t terribly sad when the bossy budgie finally died of old age.

One way or another I never managed to get a corgi of my very own.

I think Queen Elizabeth II did a good job on her dogs. Perhaps less well on some of the royal family members.

Those of us who help bring up a junior generation know what that is like, so no blame there.

The Queen had been doing the whole HRH thing since I was seven years old, a constant presence on the back of every coin in every country I ever lived in, and I have to say I truly admire her stamina.

If I ever get a corgi in this life I’ll name it Elizabeth and think of you kindly as a fellow dog lover.

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