ARISTOCRATS OF DOGDOM
They are the gifts of many Eminent Personages to Queen Alexandra and Are More Carefully Attended Than the Average Child.
As all the world knows, rambling old Sandringham House in Norfolk, several miles from any town or even the smallest railroad station has been the Queen of England’s real “home” these forty years. Here a world-empire’s trappings are positively shaken off and her majesty becomes an ordinary woman.
She is free to drive in her pony cart from Wolferton to Babingly; from West Newton to Appleton; from Dersingham to King’s Lynn—calling at laborers’ cottages here and there; dropping in at her model school, or else merely strolling across the park with one or two of her daughters and a few friends. For the queen is never tired of her horses and dogs, her poultry and pigeons; as well as the model dairy, kitchen gardens, conservatories, and prize stock on the big farm, two thousand acres in extent.
The Sandringham shorthorns, shires, thoroughbreds, and hackneys are famous all over the British Empire, where scions from the Royal Home Farm are scattered for the improvement of stock all the way from Scotland to Sydney. Did not the Sandringham shire stallion “Prince Victor” win first prize at the International Live Stock Exposition in Chicago?
The estate is a rural paradise of ten thousand acres, and Queen Alexandra’s personality pervades it like that of a fairy godmother. Her own interests are many, and range from a model dairy that would have charmed the heart of capricious Marie Antoinette to the vast kennels, joyous and loud mouthed with the finest dogs the world produces.
Exalted personages are represented here by superb specimens. The Czar’s wolf-hounds are especially admired. Even the lofty Hospice of St. Bernard is represented by genuine life-savers, and the Eskimos of Arctic Yukon have sent powerful sledge-dogs that dwell side by side with canine aristocrats given by Kaisers and kings.
The Queen’s Kennels.
In short, no variety comes amiss to these famous kennels of the queen. Here are pointers and setters, harriers and deer-hounds, “poms” and bulldogs of all kinds, with fox terriers and bassets, retrievers and spaniels from every nation between France and China.
Every morning at eleven, after officials and housekeepers have reported to their royal mistress, Queen Alexandra sets forth toward her kennels with big baskets of bread and biscuits for her special favorites, the shaggy wolf-hounds and tiny King Charles spaniels that travel everywhere with her, even when she is staying under the roof of some favored subject.
It is hardly necessary to say the kennels are models of what canine homes should be. Three men are charged with their up-keep, and once a month—oftener if need be—the famous veterinary surgeon, Alfred Sewell, comes down from London to prescribe for such as are ailing, or to advise as to diet if certain of the animals are to be entered for some international show. And every dog-fancier in Europe knows that the Queen of England’s kennels contain the finest specimens bred anywhere in the world.
From the house—not ” palace,” observe— to the kennels is quite a long way. Sometimes the Duchess of Fife or Princess Victoria accompany their mother on horseback or a-wheel through long, silent avenues pillared with giant trees. Afar off the dogs hear the voice of their mistress and set up a deafening welcome.
The queen and her daughters visit all the pets and hear the reports of the men in charge. Titbits are distributed, and then special favorites are let out for a romp on the sward with the queen, or a long stroll, maybe, to see the horses and aviaries.
A Canine Cemetery.
Walk round the big kennels and you will see neat little marble tombstones commemorating dead-and-gone favorites of the queen; nothing foolishly extravagant, but just the name and age and the record of “twelve years’ friendship,” or whatever the period may have been.
This daily visit is an invariable habit of Queen Alexandra, whether guests are staying at the house or not. Those favorites whose turn it is to be taken out—every dog has his day at Sandringham—scamper back with the royal ladies and remain until after the two o’clock luncheon. Indeed, two spaniels will be taken for a drive in the afternoon and even permitted to enter the vast drawing-room at tea-time, when all the British royal family and their guests gather for an informal hour of talk and rest.
At five or thereabouts, the queen goes for another stroll in the far-stretching park, and takes her dogs back to the kennels ere she returns to dress for the dinner at half past eight in the immense saloon hung with Spanish tapestry.
Yet even then the curious might see one or two little balls of black or chocolate and white wool curled under the table near the queen’s feet. For her majesty is never without at least one or two of her pets, and laughingly declares she would have them all with her only for their clamorous demonstrations of the affection they feel toward their royal mistress
The Scrap Book, Volume 5, 1908 p. 461-2
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: We have previously read of King Edward’s dog Caesar doing his bit, collecting for charity. While Queen Alexandra’s daughter-in-law, the formidable Queen Mary, seemed to prefer her dogs made in various hardstones by Faberge, our present Queen’s fondness for her corgis is well-known: she was introduced to the breed in childhood and has owned over thirty corgis since she came to the throne. The Queen, like Queen Alexandra, tends them herself, and, until recently, chose the sires of the dogs to be bred. Their meals are specially cooked by a gourmet chef and they have their own “Corgi Room” at Buckingham Palace. At Christmas Her Majesty makes each dog a stocking full of holiday treats. When a royal corgi dies, it is buried in the little cemetery at Sandringham. While Her Majesty is an indulgent mistress, a footman was once sacked for pouring whiskey into the corgis’ food and water dishes and watching with amusement as they became intoxicated. Had such an incident occurred at the Hall, that footman would have found himself served up as dog treats in very short order.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.