Dog days are back
Sir ranulph Fiennes took his Jack russell, Bothie, to both Poles, Dame Elizabeth Taylor won custody of a beloved dog at the end of her eighth marriage, model Cara Delavigne’s took her cross-breed Leo to Chanel’s show in Paris (although he wasn’t allowed to see the show) and Carrie Fisher’s French bulldog, Gary, accompanied her to last year’s premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Edward Vll’s fox terrier Caesar took part in his funeral procession and the Egyptians deemed dogs essential companions for the afterlife. We don’t like to be far from our faithful four-legged friends, as Jonathan Self’s article on their ubiquitous presence in art confirms ( page 48).
During the coming weeks, dogs will be everywhere, at game fairs, horse trials and agricultural shows, and so will the RSPCA, which, rightly, won’t hesitate to shame owners who cruelly leave their animals panting in a hot car. There will be dogs stretching their legs at motorway service stations, in the grounds of historic houses and on beaches, and their owners will, it is hoped, be armed with the ubiquitous plastic bag, which they will then deposit in the right place.
More and more visitor attractions, from Battle Abbey to Lindisfarne, are recognising that visitors may be attached to dogs; heritage railways welcome canine passengers (as long as they don’t sit on the seats) and even museums and art galleries, such as Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall and the National Cycle Museum at Llandrindod Wells in Powys, thoughtfully allow dogs a cultural fix.
Some establishments go so far as to add that they only hope that owners are as well-behaved as their pets— and this is the crux: this welcoming spirit will only prevail as long as the humans are as polite as their companions.
Saved by the barbeque
BACK in the 1950s, a group of ‘stubborn old men’ saved delightful native pig breeds such as the gingery Oxford Sandy and Black and the grinning Lop from extinction when the Government was trying to reduce the British pig in all its charming varieties to a standard, fast- fattening type. Now, we have more porcine variety than any other western nation ( page 20).
But before cooing over the cute piggies, we need to set about determinedly devouring as many of them as we can. The Sunday roast (with a joint from your local butcher or farm shop) is the surest way of preserving these valuable genes, so why not buy a Berkshire banger for the barbeque tonight?
British domination of the Tour de France has become another expected summer tradition and Chris Froome didn’t let us down. Unruffled by two crashing falls —‘i lost some skin, which wasn’t pleasant’—and having to run while awaiting a replacement bike, he cruised up the Champs-elysées to a rapturous reception.
Contrast these scenes with the international Olympic Committee’s feeble response to the russian doping mess. Another great sporting extravaganza starts next week and we can only hoped it will be marked by more of the spirit shown by Mr Froome.