Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

A Shaggy Dog Story


I didn’t know my first dog too well. His name was Pepe and he was a poodle. I developed allergies and Pepe went to live with my grandparents in Baton Rouge, LA when I was three or so. I met him once more, when I was about 11. He was grey. Seemed nice enough. I hadn’t thought about being able to own another dog since then.

Since he made his appearance yesterday, I thought I’d introduce Barrymore, seen seated on our bar floor, above. He is an 11 year old Parson Russell Terrier (what used to be called a Jack Russell) who we adopted at 3 years old after he washed out of the show/breeding business. (One incorrect tooth that kept him from ever coming in higher than 3rd place and that he passed along to two litters of puppies…. game over.)

His kennel name is Farmsworth Chatter and he has a much more distinguished lineage than do Mrs. E. and I. He is Yankee, but very nice and seems quite taken with the Southern clime. When we adopted him, he was nicknamed “Bear”, which we found ridiculous for a 15 lb animal. He had a way of sitting in profile that reminded me very much of John Barrymore. It wasn’t too far off and he seemed to adjust just fine.

(The Great Profile, John Barrymore)

Barrymore was Mrs. E.’s birthday present. Pre-children she would knit him sweaters and actually kitted out a houndstooth number with an alligator belt of mine that had seen better days. One day, he looked over at me, walked across the couch, sat on my lap and became “my dog.” Not long after that, he came up all teeth between me and a mugger. Neither of us was shot and I believe that Barrymore did much to limit the duration of the encounter.

Since then he has been rechristened many times, after many an exploit, the latest not one week ago.

He is: Sir Barrymore, The Dread Pirate Wetbeard, Squirrel Bane, Chipmunk Breath and ‘Possum Scourge. He is my first dog.


18 thoughts on “A Shaggy Dog Story

  1. What a good dog face! I went years [say, 10 to 47] without a dog and now we have a big old abandoned Aussie Shepherd/Chow who is the nicest animal I have ever known. Looks kind of ferocious in the back yard though. Just the thing. AND we now have a Papillion, Grammy, who runs the inside of the house. Nine pounds of constant food-hound. What next?

    Oh, Turling, I howled too when I saw the Princess Bride ref. I love that movie.


  2. I have a Jack Russell terrier and he is the love of my life. (My husband understands the accolade.) We brought him home from a vet in northern Georgia at 6 weeks old. We named him Carlos. We moved to Boston, but he loves warmth and prefers hot days. I call him ‘my southern dawg”. At 15, he moves slower and enjoys naps more, but he is still quite an athlete, bounding like a pirate from the first step after a squirrel in the yard. He has the same dreamy, lovey face as your Barrymore. I try to make everyday dog-perfect for him – a chunk of ham, a roll in the grass, a run on the beach, a ride in the car, the last of the ice cream in the bottom of the bowl.

  3. That was the sweetest post – and then to see Sir Barrymoore’s face staring into our eyes. I can tell – you really love him – he’s a lucky little fellow!

  4. From Best In Breed…God loves a terrier. Have a Westie wife and I told our daughter that had we gotten Spud the Westie before we had her, there was a chance we wou have stopped with Spud.
    Great site

  5. That is just about the sweetest thing I’ve read in ages…

    Barrymore looks like my Grandma’s Wire-Haired Terriers, Rowdy & Junie. I have a hand-tinted photograph of Rowdy & Junie from the early 1930’s where there are both seated on a chair in the backyard. My Grandma had written on the back “after a bath”… no wonder the fur is so gleaming white…

  6. Sir Bentley would like Sir Barrymore to know that he looks like one fine, easy and elegant stud! Must be hard to play second in your house. Does he have a straw boater and a seersucker jacket for Summer?

  7. Oh Mr E&EL you forever have a gold star in my book. I am such a dog lover! We have now had 3 dogs in our 16 years of marriage. All seem to go through the “my dog” stage with both of us. But the line, “He is Yankee, but very nice” takes the cake. I LOVE it!!

  8. Considering I am not a dog person, they have always made me feel uncomfortable and I can’t stand the sound of a bark, your lovely pup melted me enough to entertain the notion of a pup just like him (and of course a cat too). He’s lovely and what a face!

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