Or should I say, happy 2-4 day? Or maybe happy barbeque day? Either way, happy day off to all my Canadian friends! I like to think Queen Victoria would have been honoured to know her reign is celebrated every year with beer and burgers.
Her Majesty was also well-known for her love of dogs and her patronage of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). She was one of the first to take in collie dogs as pets. Previously they were treated purely as shepherd’s working dogs and were never seen inside fine aristocratic homes. Queen Victoria developed a fondness for the working dogs while spending time on her estate in Balmoral. It was her love of the collie that eventually moved the breed into a position of prominence in the show ring.
However, the dogs Queen Victoria admired so much do not resemble the collies we see at Westminster or Crufts. Though her collies were definitely pets, she primarily encouraged those who promoted the dogs as working breeds.
One of her favourites was Sharp, seen in the photograph on the left. To me he looks more like a cross between a labrador retriever and a border collie, than the collies I am familiar with in 2012. I imagine it was due to her influence that the breed standard changed as much as it did in the last 150 years. Without Queen Victoria, border collies may not have nearly as many championship titles in conformation, agility, and other dog events as they do today.
Sharp lived for fifteen years. After his passing, a statue was erected in his memory in the queen’s garden at Windsor Home Park in Berkshire. As a result Sharp will forever be known as the “favourite and faithful Collie of Queen Victoria.” If only all dogs could be so honoured.
It is believe that in old age, Queen Victoria derived great consolation from mementoes of the past, including pictures and sculptures of her favourite animals. A silver statue of Sharp even decorated her dining room table. She wrote often of her beloved pets in her diary, noting their quirks and personalities. In some small form, she was almost dog blogger too.
Though we may not have much in common with the long-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, I think we can all relate to her close boned she had with her dogs. So as I sip from my glass this May Long weekend, I also raise it in memory of Queen Victoria and Sharp, a relationship that shall live on in history.