A Dog Called Terry

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Every weekday morning, I wake weary children who pad down to our bedroom and tuck under the duvet to watch the 6.00 news.

And every morning, a very large long enquiring black nose appears over the bedclothes to greet Felix and get an early morning cuddle. He is predictable. After just a short spell of head stroking his legs give way and he flups down onto the bedroom floor.

Freddy the dog is a dappily affectionate overgrown teddy bear. A great black sheep in wolf’s clothing. And that moment, when even on the most daunting schooldays the dog comes for a cuddle, that moment has become essential.

How long has man’s best friend been man’s best friend? It is tempting to believe that in olden times dogs were curs, scavengers, reviled and bequeathed only scraps from beneath the medieaval table.

But the evidence says different.

Potter down to Gloucestershire, why don’t you, and call in at Deerhurst Church. There, if you look carefully, you will find a brass from 1400 depicting Alice, wife of Sir John Cassy.

And at her feet is a small dog. He has a collar; and on the collar is engraved his name.


Terri was not the only beloved hound to have been recorded in mediaeval history. Jakke sits next to the the  effigy  of Sir Brian Stapleton and his wife dating from 1430 at Ingham, Norfolk; and Bo is curled up with the De Reynes Family at Clifton Reynes in Buckinghamshire. And it’s not just a British thing: in Seine-Et-Marne, France, at the little church of Ozouer-Le-Repos, Dyamant the dog keeps his lady company for eternity.

Incredibly, there is a full and frank list of mediaeval dogs’ names.

Edward of Norwich, Second Duke of York, wrote a fabulous book about hunting in his time: The Master Of Game. You can find it here at the Open Library. It is a joy, a window onto another time which tells us how different and how similar lives were then to now.

The edition I reference misses one unmissable element: a list of 1,100 dogs names. It was deemed necessary to name hunting dogs and the best masters should not be at a loss for those all-important names, no matter how many dogs are in his care.

I am still looking for the full list. Meanwhile, Katherine Walker-Meilke wrote an entire book on mediaeval pets which I feel that I simply must own, though it is not available electronically.

She reels off an enticing list of names for a dog in the 1400s. Troy, Blawnche, Nosewise and Swepestake, Smylefest, Trynket; not to mention Amiable, Clenche, Holdfast and Absalom.

And that’s just the beginning.

We have always loved our dogs, and named them accordingly.

I think I might call our next one Terry.







25 thoughts on “A Dog Called Terry

  1. The foreword by Roosevelt had me enthralled so much so that I must now try and read/struggle through this book online. The Foreword is almost a book in itself, I’m pleased to note that he referred to the English as such, not as British or worse still “Brits”.
    Anyway I’ve saved this book and now I must try and read it; thanks Kate; for what I’m not sure it may well be worth the effort. 🙄 O_o o_O

  2. Should I ever have another small female dog, Trynket she shall be. That’s simply charming.

    I never cease to be amazed at the myriad of things you uncover from such simple beginnings as a morning cuddle with the dog. Your mind must never rest, Kate. 🙂

  3. Everything charming and homey! A dog brings out the best in us. I, too, must have the Walker-Mielke book! I love history, and of course the big items are fascinating, but what I really like are the windows onto the small things. The daily life (and especially women’s lives) from another time. A war or a king making is dramatic and thrilling, but I’d rather know how they washed the linens, or prepared the food. And how they interacted with their pets.

  4. I particularly like this because I called my wonderful German Shepherd boyhood companion, whose name was supposed to be Frederick of Dunster … you guessed it … Terry!

  5. Clenche, Holdfast, and Nosewise–no need to ask for their resumes. One of my dogs, named Sugar by a previous owner, should have been called Nosewise. Not a bloodhound, though. She looked like a great big dirty mop.

  6. I must have a dog named Trynket. I’m so impressed that Teddy Roosevelt wrote the foreword. Then I spent a long time reading about the founding of the York dynasty. Funny how one thing leads to another.

  7. We are desperate to get a dog, but there’s been a number of complaints about our neighbours’ dog barking, from sources unknown, so now we are a bit reluctant. A cat may be a better option.

  8. I missed this one – surprisingly, as my wonder dog boyhood companion, of whom I have blogged a series, was a German Shepherd called Frederick of Dunster – but by me, Terry.
    If ever I want to name a new dog, I now know where to look for a surfeit of choice!

  9. My dog is called Terry. Not very originally named by my ex as he is a border terrier – Tery the Terrier . My other dog is called Jekka

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