Small Comfort: Toy Dogs Are a Girl’s Best Friend

“Times Past,” AKC Gazette: In our April 1998 issue, Gerald and Loretta Hausman explored canine lore and legend. In this excerpt they discuss the healing power of toy dogs, and a couple of royal lap warmers who loved their ladies to death.

The so-called ‘comforte dog’ is yet another of the dog’s healing manifestations, which usually involve Maltese, Chihuahuas, or Pugs, or some other small or toy breeds. Throughout history, these dogs have warmed more than hearts; in fact, they were, and still are, used as virtual hot-water bottles. They were also employed to extract pain and illness from the stomach, which explains the habit of keeping them close to the skin, hidden under garments.

Velvet Beds and Rolling Heads

It was under the skirts of Marie Antoinette, one myth reports, that a little Maltese traveled to its mistress’s beheading. The story goes on to say, however, that the dog leaped from carriage to bridge before the fateful hour, plunging into the Seine, where it supposedly died. Tradition also tells of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (some insist it was a Maltese) tucked into the petticoats of Mary Queen of Scots during her 1587 beheading ordered by Queen Elizabeth I. History says the dog survived the death of its mistress, but later died of grief.

Kirsten Dunst in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette, courtesy Columbia Pictures Corporation.


Kirsten Dunst in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette, courtesy Columbia Pictures Corporation.

 

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