When I was a kid I would make a cave by tucking blankets all around my bunk bed, and hide inside reading The Wizard of Oz . I must have read it about 10 times. The book had beautiful illustrations and Toto was portrayed as a solid black Scottish Terrier. Now, we all know that Toto was the best dog in the whole world, the one source of joy in Dorothy’s gray Kansas existence, so in my 8 year-old mind, Scotties became the dogs I knew I wanted to have when I grew up. My first Scottie, Heathcliff, has already gone to the Eternal Lap, and is buried under the apple tree out in the perennial field. He ruled Egan Gardens with an iron paw for 11 years. When one is only 1 foot tall it’s hard to oversee things properly, so Heathcliff became adept at climbing. He could get way up high on piles of peat bales or stacks of pots, from which he finally could get an overview of operations around the nursery. Then he was in a position to give orders as befitted his status as Top Dog.
When I brought a baby Willoughby home 9 years later, Heath snorted derisively. “What do you want another dog for, am I not perfect? Am I not enough?” In time he accepted his little brother, and taught him the important things in life: staying out of the way of cars, hunting rodents, and maintaining a silent, cool, but forceful presence whenever food was around. Willoughby learned well, and has now changed from a jumpy puppy to a stolid, portly, dignified old fellow. He will never allow a stranger to touch him unless I’m there, so don’t be offended if you visit us and one Scottie just turns and walks away from you. It’s just part of his “cool” image.
Ferguson has no desire to be cool. He’d rather have fun. He still has lots of youthful silliness in him. Though he also was taught the important Scottie skills of food-watching, rodent-hunting, and car-avoidance, he doesn’t take any of it very seriously except the car-watching part. Even that he pays attention to as much to see if there are other dogs in the cars as for his own safety. Willoughby just doesn’t know what to do about him. “This younger generation of Scotties just don’t value tradition!”, Willoughby complains. “Ferg doesn’t take his supervisory duties seriously, he lets the humans get away with anything. He lets total strangers pet him and accepts treats from them. I don’t know what the world’s coming to.” Ferguson doesn’t care. The world’s great as far as he’s concerned.
Rochester joined us out of the blue in Sept. ’01. He had been found, a wandering puppy out in the country alone, and was brought to us by someone who knew we had Scotties, hoping we could find his old home or a new one. My plan to foster him for the Scottie
Rescue group brought quick results – it was only a week before my mother decided she wanted to keep him herself. She and my father had had Tam o’ Shanter, for many years. Tammy was long-lived, wise and matriarchal, but she never lost her sense of fun and playfulness. She didn’t spend much time over with us at the nursery , preferring to rule her own roost rather than compete with the overbearing Heathcliff. She had been gone for about 4 years when Rochester arrived. It was a good time to get another Scottie, my mother figured, especially since Fate brought one her way. Rochester is a little wild man. He’s rough and tough and big (by Scottie standards) and rangy. He’s wonderfully sweet-natured and silly, but he plays too hard, with entirely too much tooth and claw action. He jumps up with muddy paws. And he wants to play with everyone, whether they want to or not. Since he hasn’t yet learned the cool self-control of the older Scots, we’re keeping him within an invisible electric fence. He’d love to have you go over and say “hello” as long as you’re comfortable with the rough manners.
Update 2013: Ferguson became a “relaxed fit” dog, taking his time about everything except matters involving food. Haste makes waste. Take life one step at a time. In the end, though, it was excitement and a big adrenalin rush in the course of nutria hunting that brought about his demise. Scotties were bred to hunt rodents and that driving force never leaves them. Ferg is now nestled in the Eternal Lap and buried ‘neath the bonny old apple tree along with Heathcliff and Willoughby. Rochester has matured into a mellow old man, still sweet and silly, but calm and slow-moving. He came to live with me when my mother went to a care facility, so now he is part of Egan Gardens staff. He carries out greeting duties with enthusiasm and professional skill, letting children pet him and amicably sniffing visiting dogs. The best part, in a dogs mind, is the commute to work. He gets to ride in The Car every day!
Thornton joined the long line of Egan Scotties in 2014, after good old Rochester also climbed into the Eternal Lap. He’s friendly and sociable like Ferguson and Rochester were, but also a hunter and wanderer like Willoughby was. He’s just so busy! So much to do and see and smell! Gotta dig out those gopher mounds – they’re down in there, and he’s gonna dig ’til he gets to them, no matter how muddy his whiskers get! Oops, attention span limit reached, run to the next gopher mound – but, ooh, there’s a mouse hole. Dash down the mint field to the swampy swale at the bottom, try to find the beavers back there. Oh, it’s lunch time, must supervise the lunch process; can’t leave any spilled crumbs on the floor, and besides, someone might want to share. And then I, his human, go and spoil his fun by putting him into Thornton Park, his little fenced garden area, because when he goes dashing off he doesn’t always use good sense about when to come back home. I hope as he becomes older and quieter he’ll learn to be a sensible farm dog and hang around with his humans more. In the meantime, into the enclosure he goes. He enjoys having visitors, both human and canine, come to Thornton Park to play with him.
If you’re interested in learning more about Scotties, contact Cascade Scottish Terrier Club at cascadescots.org.
For great pet photography like Thornton’s photo above, talk to Thorn’s friend, Rebecca Cozart of Noses, Tails, Paws. Visit nosestailspaws.wordpress.com