The Read Ahead: Dog Gone

Bonnie's picture

A wire fox terrier named Sky recently won the Westminster Dog Show.  It reminded me of a pedigreed wire fox terrier I once knew and loved.  He adopted my in-laws forty years ago. 

He was notorious in the neighborhood for going on walkabout, often winding up in my in-laws’ backyard. They lived beside a drive-thru and he loved the delivery trucks.  The original owners grew tried of repeatedly fetching Whiskers home and finally decided it was easier to just let him stay. 

He was a dog on springs.  He could bounce straight up into the air and look you right in the eye.  And he did. He was a loveable character, resembling a salty sailor far more than any pampered show dog, but he had his American Kennel Club  papers.

His official name on those papers began with Asta’s Little Whiskers and went on from there.  Asta was a fictional female schnauzer belonging to the sophisticated husband and wife detective team, Nick and Nora Charles, in Dashiell Hammett’s book The Thin Man . Asta was played by a male wire fox terrier named Skippy in the film version. Skippy became a famous film star in his own right.  I bet you’ve seen him.  He was George in in the classic comedy, Bringing up Baby .  My favorite performance is his role as Mr. Smith in The Awful Truth with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.  Skippy was responsible for the popularity of pet wire fox terriers in the thirties and forties.  Could Sky have the same effect in 2014?

Related:

  •  Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean is the true story of another famous film dog. It won the Ohioana Nonfiction Book Award in 2012.
  • Nick Trout is a veterinarian and the author of numerous books, both fiction and nonfiction,  about dogs.  The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs is a charming tale about a vet who moves back to a small Vermont town to take over his late father's practice. The sequel, Dog Gone, Be Back Soon will be released in April 2014.
  • The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett is the basis for the Thin Man movie series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.