On 2 March 1872, there was a royal death at Windsor Castle. There were no flags lowered, no mourning was ordered, there were no headlines in the press but the death, though small, was royal. Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, might have been told of Looty’s death after she had finished her breakfast.
Looty? A fawn and white pekingese, came to the castle in 1861. She was offered to the Queen in April 1861 by Captain John Hart Dunne by letter. He wrote :
"This little dog was found by me in the Palace of Yuan-Ming-Yuan near Pekin on 6 October 1860. It is supposed to have belonged to either the Empress or one of the ladies of the Imperial Family. It is a most affectionate and intelligent little creature - it has always been accustomed to be treated as a pet and it was with the hope that it might be looked upon as such by Her Majesty and the Royal Family that I have brought it from China."
J. Hart Dunne
K. Captain 99th Regt.
Of course, Queen Victoria did not know what she had been given, nor Captain Hart Dunne what he gave; not only is the Pekingese one of the oldest breeds in the world, indeed it may be the oldest, but it is the only one, still in flourishing existence, that is a true ‘spirit-dog’, bred as part of the symbolism of a living religion, Buddhism.
There are many myths surrounding the Pekingese, no other breed has myths in its ancestry. A common story is that of a marmoset falling in love with a lion. Being so small, her passion could not be consummated, and she was in such a state of wretchedness that the gods took pity on her and, in some versions, made her big enough, in others the lion small enough, for the marriage to take place. The result was a Pekingese and while the story is somewhat impossible, it is true that many Pekingese have marmoset traits. Another story states that:
"Once upon a time a lioness grew tired of the brute attentions of her mate and yielded to the delicate caresses of a butterfly. The result of this mating was a pekingese and ever afterwards these little dogs have to be as brave as lions and as dainty as butterflies."
And so started the legend of the Butterfly Lions.
Taken from "The Butterfly Lions, The Pekingese in History, Legend and Art" by Rumer Godden
So, why do you want to own (or be owned by) a Pekingese. Usually it is because people have known a Pekingese or have admired them. They are not a breed that is chosen by thumbing through a magazine or a book and finding a picture. Their appeal comes from within through their personality.
Pekingese are still seen as the old ladies’ dog or lap dogs and are still thought of as being ‘snappy’. This is far from true and this idea belongs in the past although, like any dog, they love fuss and attention but they prefer to see and know what is going on around them. They have wonderful characters but can be somewhat aloof.
If you want a dog that will happily go for a five mile walk with you every day, running and catching sticks and balls along the way, diving into rivers and swimming to the other side, then perhaps the Pekingese is not for you. However, this does not mean to say that you cannot take him for a walk, they will happily walk with you, especially if they have been trained to do this since puppyhood. They will also run happily over fields and go quite a long way whilst having a wonderful time. Do take care if near rivers or water, their heavy coats will quickly drag them down when wet.
Mentioning coats brings me to the care of Pekingese.
Check with the breeder that the puppy has been wormed and innoculated. If neither then check with your Vet as to the best way of doing this. Remember that your puppy cannot go into the world until innoculations have been administered. You will also need to ask the breeder about the puppy’s diet, how often he is fed etc., do not be afraid to ask any questions! Most breeders will be more than happy to help, those who are not should be treated warily.
As I have already mentioned heavy coats are a big consideration when deciding to buy a Pekingese. Your new family member will, we presume, be living in the house. With central heating, or whatever, a dog living in the house will rarely carry a wealth of coat. We would recommend a little gentle grooming on a daily basis. Initially five minutes a day will suffice but as your pet gets older this time will extend. Bathing is also fine but in moderation and at the right time.
Ailments and Diseases
It is a common myth that Pekingese suffer from all sorts of problems; eyes, breathing etc.
If you feel that your Pekingese is feeling off colour, consult your Vet. Many illnesses show similar symptoms, so do not trust, entirely, your own diagnosis.
Main problems to look for are parasites (both internal and external). Most of these can be warded off through regular worming and grooming.
Vaccinations are extremely important, these keep diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvo virus at bay.
Other ailments can include ulceration of the eyes, (if you notice this on your daily routine, consult your Vet immediately and he will issue the necessary treatment), heatstroke (try and cool the dog as quickly and calmly as you can), bad backs (keep the dog confined to a small space and consult a Vet as soon as you can), other problems can occur but you can always refer back to the breeder or again, consult your Vet.
"Pekingese, An Owners Companion" by Vandella Williams and Adele Summers
You have your new puppy, he is part of the family so have fun and enjoy.
Pekingese, An Owners Companion - Vandella Williams and Adele Summers
A Snuffle of Pekes, A Tao of Pekingese - Valerie Miles and Norma Proctor
The Butterfly Lions, The Pekingese in History, Legend and Art - Rumer Godden