I received an interesting email from my good friend Jacqueline Poplar, who is a dog enthusiast. I have reproduced it here as it relates to one of the photographs that Tim posted on his Oldton site.
I am very excited about this picture of a dog that you have sent me. At first glance it appears to be an example of a county breed – to be more specific a Somerset Pye.
The tradition of county breeds was started by King Charles II, who attempted to tie specific breeds of dog to the identities of different English counties. These were highly prized dogs who were pampered and generally exempted from any form of work, although I believe that some of the stronger, hardier breeds were used in hunting. It was the rise of county dogs that started the tradition of dog shows and competitions, in which representatives would compete for prizes that would be awarded to their respective counties. These prizes could be anything from a new road, a bridge or a statue of a prominent local figure. I believe that, on one occasion, a railway line was up for grabs.
Very few pure lineages of county breeds survive, in fact at last count I think there were only eight. The remaining examples are crossbreeds and mixes. The Somerset Pye became technically extinct at some point in the early 1920s.
I do know of one very elderly breeder who worked with Somerset Pyes early in his life and would be able to say one way or the other if this is a true example of a pure breed. However I do not know if he is still alive and would not have the first idea about how to contact him, as he no longer attends kennel club functions.
I hope that, since our last meeting, you have been able to lay to rest your extreme phobia of dogs.