When Your Lap Feels Empty

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

I have always had a general rule of thumb when it comes to the question of “how many dogs is too many dogs?”, to whit: more dogs than can fit on your lap at any one point in time.

I fully admit, I have less lap that I used to, but even so – two dogs on your lap leave an empty space, both there and in your heart.

It’s been a rough two years when it comes to loss. Delilah, who left a weird, unique, one in a lifetime hole in our hearts. Kelda, who went too young, too soon, and too shockingly to be processed. The puppies I lost, again, too young, so young that they never had names, in such a mysterious way (a virus, so say the expensive and yet frustratingly non specific pathology reports from the University of Guelph, and how can something so mundane as a “flu virus”cause such trauma?).

Penelope, however, leaves us with a hole in our hearts, a space in our laps, and an ache that we are still trying to fill. Our tiny little teddy bear girl, who sat up on her hind legs like an imbalanced Buddha, balancing on her butt like a circus seal. Who loved to randomly bark at the ceiling, apparently for the sheer joy it. Who shrieked to introduce herself to every new person she met (“Here I am! Say hello! hi hi hi hi!”).

I don’t care how old your dog is, a death from cancer is never a good death. We took her home for one full week after her diagnosis, a week filled with ice cream and laps and extra treats, and walks that usually ended up being ‘carries’, not that we minded. Weeks come to an end, however, and when pain outweighs joy, it is time to say goodbye.

I have last photos of her, but I won’t share them, because she is and always will be our small, shining, silly girl, running alongside the lake with her sister, her mother, her grandmother, all of them now – gone, and gone too soon, and the holes they leave in your lap and your heart and your life, are holes that no other dog can fill, even though they in turn will leave their own holes, too, and too soon.

young-Nellie2

Fawn and Brindle Pied French Bulldogs

Pied French Bulldogs – Coat Color Inheritance

There are few things I love more than well marked Brindle Pied French Bulldogs. Among serious breeders, pied is the “Rolls Royce” of French Bulldog color patterns – easy to achieve in theory (just breed two pieds together, and you’ll get more pieds), but nearly impossible to achieve perfectly.

Brindle Pied French Bulldogs, after all, have no camouflage. A solid patterned dog, be it brindle, cream or fawn, has the benefit of a canvas in a single color. A pied needs not to have not just markings, but markings well placed, symmetrically located, and properly pigmented. A badly placed marking on the back can give a structurally correct dog the appearance of a sway back. A lopsided marking on a rear leg can make movement look off gait. A non symmetrical head marking can detract from a dog’s appearance and overall type. Worst of all, lack of pigment, even when unseen, can have serious health ramifications for a pied dog, no matter how pretty they look.

The pied pattern is recessive to that for solid coat (solid coat includes fawn, cream and brindle – and more about brindle later).

A Punnett Square can help you visualize the possible breedings that would result in a pied dog.

Click any images to view full sized.

 

Pied to pied 

 Predicted outcome per offspring: +Sp/+Sp - 1:1 (100%)

Predicted outcome per offspring: +Sp/+Sp – 1:1 (100%)

Breeding pied to pied will have an outcome of 100% pied offspring.

Pied to a solid marked dog that carries pied

 Predicted outcome per offspring: +S/+Sp - 1:2 (50% Solid Marked offspring that carry pied) +Sp/+Sp - 1:2 (50% pied offspring)

Predicted outcome per offspring:
+S/+Sp – 1:2 (50% Solid Marked offspring that carry pied)
+Sp/+Sp – 1:2 (50% pied offspring)

We could expect 50% of the puppies produced to be pied. The other 50% we would expect to be solid marked dogs that CARRY the recessive pied allele.

 

Pied to a solid marked dog that does NOT carry pied

Predicted outcome per offspring:<br /> +S/+Sp - 1:1 (100%)<br /> All offspring will carry pied, but be solid marked.

Predicted outcome per offspring:
+S/+Sp – 1:1 (100%)

None of the offspring will be pied, but 100% of the offspring will carry the pied allele. The following Punnett Square will illustrate what could occur when you breed two of these solid marked, pied carrying offspring together:

Solid Marked Pied Carrier to Solid Marked Pied Carrier

Predicted outcome per offspring:

+S/+S – 1:4 (25%)
+S/+sp – 1:2 (50%)
+sp/+sp – 1:4 (25%)
So, 25% would be solid marked offspring that do NOT carry pied.
50% would be solid marked offspring that DO carry a pied allele.
25% would be pied offspring.

Pied Marking Patterns

Pied, as you might know, is a wide spectrum of marking types. A heavily marked pied dog can be referred to as a blanket, boston marked, or mantled pied, while an ‘extreme’ pied can be a dog that appears essentially white.

This is a diagram that I’ve always found really helpful in understanding pied patterning. It’s adapted from a diagram by G. M. Allen, published in 1914, and is considered to be the ‘blueprint’ for how pied markings pattern themselves.

Coat Color Inheritance Brindle Pied French Bulldogs

Coat Color Inheritance Brindle Pied French Bulldogs – Click to view full sized

As you can see, the drawing even in 1914 specified that pied is an ABSENCE of patterned areas, and an increase in white (I mention that only because sometimes people think that a pied dog is a white dog with patterned areas overlaid).

In Frenchies, this drawing would illustrate a brindle pied Frenchie. If you picture all of those same areas as fawn, without a brindle overlay, you can picture a fawn pied with the same markings. The masking allele is separate and separately inherited.

The further you go down this chart, away from patterned areas and towards extreme white, the greater your chances for color linked deafness.

Deafness and Pieds

Color linked deafness is an interesting thing. Its technical name is “pigment-associated hereditary deafness”.

The cochlea is the spiral cavity of the inner ear, and it is lined with cochlear hair cells. These hair cells, when healthy, generates and amplify sound. In pigment-associated hereditary deafness, the death of the hair cells after birth (2-4 weeks, for dogs) leads to deafness.

These hair cells and the underlying structure require a very specific environment to remain healthy – specifically, high K+ and low Na+ levels. Pigment cells – melanocytes – are responsible for maintaining this level.

When the cochlea has no pigment cells, the stria degenerates, and the high K+ levels in the fluids surrounding the hair cells is not maintained. This leads to the eventual death of the cochlear hair cells, and to deafness in the dog.

Anything that increases the chances of less pigmented inner ears, increases the chances of pigment associated deafness. As you can see on the pied inheritance chart above, Mother Nature does everything in her power to retain pigment on the ear, which decreases the chances for deafness (but does not eliminate it – a dog with pigmented or colored hair on the ears, can still have no pigment on the inner ears).

 

Kefir for Pets - a cure all for digestive upsets

Kefir Benefits for Dogs and Pregnant Bitches

Delilah had an upset stomach last week, so she’s been getting Kefir daily with her food, and she loves it. I’ve now started adding it to everyone’s food, since it is such a rich, healthful and relatively inexpensive way to add nutrition to their diets, and to support immune and digestive function. Similar to yogurt, Kefir is made by fermenting milk (goat, cow, sheep or even coconut) with a bacterial and yeast starter known as ‘kefir grains’. Read more

Banerjee Bonhomme - Blue French Bulldog

A Not So Brief History of Blues in North America

Thanks to the ever wonderfully informative Carol Hawke (of “Sonlit” French Bulldogs fame), comes this informative history of the ties between the rise of Blue French Bulldogs and North American French Bulldog breeders.

This is important, because an awful lot of relatively new French Bulldog people associate Blue French Bulldogs most closely with a handful of European French Bulldogs breeders, when in actual fact, Blues can most commonly be traced back to kennels in England, where a closed gene pool and limited range of colors led to the occasional occurrence of dilute fawn Frenchies, in pied, brindle or solidly marked patterns.

UK French Bulldog breeders had traditionally been rigorous about petting out their DQ (short form for ‘disqualified from showing’) colors, although a few slipped through the cracks when they were sold to North America, where they were used in breeding programs. This is how the lovely blue brindle pied male, Banerjee Bon Homme, ended up in the United States with Arlie Alford of Kennel Le Bull renown.

Frankie (as he was known) was sired by Wilcott Edison, a full litter brother to Wilcott Eureka (call name Yuri), who was imported into the USA by Pat Mentiply, of Pelshire French Bulldogs. Yuri was a lovely black masked, fawn pied dog, compact in size, and bred to Carol Hawke’s Cox’s Goodtime Allspice, he sired the littermates Ch Sonlit Europa and Ch Sonlit Daring Esprit (Lily and Duggie). Duggie, Lily and Yuri are all behind my own dogs, as is Ch Player Edwardpuck, sire of Maxine, the first (true) Black and Tan French Bulldog most modern fanciers had ever seen. In spite of this abundance of ‘rare’ color options running strongly through my pedigrees, we’ve never, as of yet, produced a blue French Bulldog, which only proves that, in my opinion, you have to work pretty hard at it to actually get one intentionally. And by ‘working hard’, I mean “Ignore everything else in your breeding program other than ‘what kinds of colors can I get?”, to which – no thanks.

That’s where  Carol’s blog (now gone) comes in.

Excerpt:

 

Blue Moon was a slate gray, blue French Bulldog male puppy bred by kennel Lebull, not Sonlit.  Blue Moon’s sire was Ch.Lebull’s Bart Simpson, a superb honey pied, black masked fawn dog whose dam was the exquisite brindle, National Specialty BOS bitch, Ch. Sonlit Europa (a littermate to my Duggie) and whose sire was the blue brindle pied import, Banerjee BonHomme.  Trophy was linebred on Wilcott and De La Parure breeding through his dam, Lebull’s Violacea.

“Trophy” or Blue Moon was dropped off one day by his breeder in a great hurry.  I quickly figured out WHY.  He, like all her dogs, had giardia at that time and she had to get them off the property until she found the cause.  (Which would to turn out to be the fecal matter left strewn over the property by the pet pigs and a few wild animals actually inherent to the area.)  Kennel Lebull, did, in fact, have kennels but they typically went unused.  I suspect the proprietor didn’t believe in them. Perhaps they were thought cruel and unnatural, sort of like braziers and panty hose.  

updated and reposted 

Part Two – The Man Who Killed Rasputin

Continued from part one

The Death of the Mad Monk

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sovfoto/Universal Images Group/REX (3827809a) Grigory yefimovich rasputin (1872-1916), spiritual advisor to Tsarina alexandra, assassinated in 1916 by members of the Russian royal court. VARIOUS

Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin (1872-1916)

Felix had crossed paths with Rasputin on several occasions, none of which he seemed to enjoy. He referred to Rasputin a “that beggar” and “that dirty man”, and spoke disparagingly of him to several friends and correspondents. He was, however, careful to exercise caution in who he shared this opinion with, as he knew that Rasputin was regarded with an almost religious awe by the Czarina and her family. Rasputin was rumored to have healed Aleksy, the Czar’s hemophiliac son, by a simple laying on of hands when the child had suffered a terrible bleeding episode. After that, Rasputin could do no wrong in the eyes of the Royal Family, and to speak ill of him was to risk the wrath of the Czar.

Felix Yussupov claimed his murder of Rasputin was done out of political considerations and loyalty to Russia, but his real motives are elusive. Certainly, Felix had never shown any interest previous to this in politics or his country, and murder seems rather an extreme way to express this newly formed interest. His claim in questionable especially when seen in light of of the numerous mentions of a ‘scandal’ involving Felix that Rasputin was threatening to take to the Czarina. This scandal apparently involved Czar Nicholas’ young first cousin and ward, Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov. Nicholas and Czarina Aleksandra were concerned about Felix’s ‘bad influence’ on Dmitri, although they never expressed in writing what their specific concerns were.

Felix himself intimates an intense relationship with Dmitri in his memoir, without illuminating the full extent of their attachment. It seems obvious something was being concealed, and Felix mentioned to several friends that he was worried “Rasputin means to malign me to the Czar”.

Felix’s involvement in the death of Rasputin is well known from his own accounts of the murder – albeit in several different versions. In brief, Felix, the young ward Dmitri and a sympathetic Royal guard all conspired to lure Rasputin to Felix’s palatial home on the Moika. Arriving at the door to the apartments of Felix and his wife Irina, Rasputin was escorted downstairs into the family’s private chambers. What happened next is not clear.

Felix claimed they tried to poison Rasputin with rose cream cakes and Madeira laced with cyanide. Due to his reported ‘superhuman strength’, Rasputin was not knocked unconscious by the poison, but rather revived on a bear skin rug, where he ‘leered’ at Felix and screamed “I shall tell the Empress”. The panicked conspirators then grabbed a revolver and shot Rasputin in the courtyard of the palace. Dragging his body to a remote canal, they dumped it through a hole in the ice, and prayed it would drift away on the current.

Some experts are skeptical that the events took place in the melodramatic manner recounted. The details seem inflated to create the idea that Rasputin was a ‘mad monk’, a man imbued with powerful, dark, evil powers which he was exercising over the Royal family.

Most recently, a story has arisen that asserts Yussupov wasn’t actually even the one who murdered Rasputin. A headlining story in the Telegraph UK Newspaper asserts that it was Oswald Rayner, a member of the British Secret Intelligence Bureau who was working at the Russian court in St Petersburg, who fired the shot that finished Rasputin off.

A French Bulldog Fancier in Exile

Prince Felix and friend with French Bulldog, 1909

Prince Felix and friend with French Bulldog, 1909

Whatever the truth of the circumstances leading to the death of Rasputin, Felix and Dmitri were sentenced by the Czar to exile for their part in it, a punishment that possibly saved the life of Dmitri, since it placed him far from the revolution that killed most of the Russian Royal family.

With the murder of Rasputin, Prince Felix became a minor hero to the Russian populace. Fame, however, didn’t last long with the coming of the revolution. When popular opinion turned, and the Czar and his family were put to death, Felix and his wife fled to the Crimea with their families. Ever resourceful, Felix managed to retrieve a few valuables from one of his palaces before his final flight to exile. Felix later sold two Rembrandts to help fund his new life. The paintings now hang in the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

Felix Yusupov and French Bulldog in Paris, 1929

Felix Yusupov and French Bulldog in Paris, 1929

Felix eventually settled into a life of exile in Paris, where he and wife Irina established “Irfe” – a haute couture and perfume line. A model for the house of Irfe describes Felix as “dressed like a Khan” in middle Eastern splendour, his “French Bull at his side”. She also mentioned Felix never hesitated to try on a dress himself, in order to show the models “how it should best be worn”.

Felix continued to own and love French Bulldogs, as he himself mentioned in his memoir, “Lost Splendour” –

“I have always been an admirer of style, and no pet could be as stylish and smart as a French Bulldog”.

Felix Yusupov in his Paris apartment, 1960's

Felix Yusupov in his Paris apartment, 1960’s

While in Paris, Felix and his wife Irina became friends with the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Like many expatriate friends of the Windsors, Felix owned several Pugs, but he never lost his particular fondness for French Bulldogs – and for the name Gugusse, a moniker he gave to four of his Frenchies. There is speculation that Felix and Irina, like many fashionable people in their circle, dabbled in breeding French Bulldogs, but no concrete proof of this exists outside of this brief line in a letter Irina wrote to a friend:

We have thought that the puppies would be most splendid if we did breed our French Bull girl, for she is a wonderful example of her kind. If we do, I should be happy to send one of the puppies to you.

In his memoir, Felix said that he hoped to “never be without (a French Bulldog)”, a goal he seems to have achieved.

Christopher Dobson writes of the death of Felix in his book “Prince Felix Yusupov – The man who murdered Rasputin“:

“He died …. on 27 September 1967 at the age of 80. He had been in great pain for a long time but he never complained.

Eventually he fell into a coma and his family and household, including Gugusse IV, gathered around his bedside. “

Prince Felix Yussupov is buried in the Russian expatriate cemetery in Ste. Genevieve-les-Blois, near Paris.


References:

King, Greg, The Man Who Killed Rasputin; Carol Publishing Group, 1995

Dobson, Christopher, Felix Yusupov – the Man Who Killed Rasputin; ,

Valkenier, Elizabeth, Valentin Serov – Portraits of Russia’s Silver Age; Northwestern University Press, 2001

Yusupov, Felix, Lost Splendour – The Amazing Memoirs of the Man Who Killed Rasputin; Helen Marx Books, 2007

Secrets of an Exiled Prince, Moscow Times, April 11-17, 2008

British spy ‘fired the shot that finished off Rasputin’, Telegraph UK, September 19 2004

Alexander Palace Time Machine and the Alexander Palace Forum (photo credits in particular)