Every now and then I wonder what I’m doing with Smooth Fox Terriers when there are dogs that are so much easier. You know those big floppy dogs that you can take anywhere because they are just furry blobs of “What Me Worry.” They loll their heads out of car windows, they’re just happy to be there. Unlike Fox Terriers, who, as I pointed out in this post, are No Dogs For Old Men. Yes, Smooth Fox Terriers are not for the faint-hearted. But there are those of us who love them. And every now and then, I come across an article like this one that reaffirms why.
In this article from a 1908 edition of The New York Times, a foreign correspondent reports on stepped-up security plans at France’s Museums. Seems the Director of Museums, M. Homolle, had a well thought-out program to head off any more theft attempts. They would use dogs. But not just any dogs:
“The dogs which we will employ, especially in the galleries where ceramics, miniatures and other delicate art objects are exhibited, will be small animals useful in drawing the attention of the guardians to any suspicious circumstances rather than in attacking any possible intruder.”
Then he adds the clincher:
“We shall, in all probability, use Fox Terriers for the purpose, as they seem to be the most alert and sagacious.”
Alert, yes, in spades. Sagacious? I’m taking that to mean this wise Frenchman recognized in Smooth Fox Terriers the only breed of dog that could possibly discern, not just the difference between a casual observer of artwork and a suspicious character, but could distinguish between the relative values of said artwork. If such a suspicious character were heading toward a Leonardo or Titian, well that would require a top level alarm of barking, howling and high pitched yelping. If the alleged perpetrator were eying one of the many insipid Jacques Louis David historical murals. Well, a simple half-bored yip would probably suffice.
Sadly, repeated searching of the Interwebs has provided no indication of whether this ambitious Canine Art Protection Program was ever put in place. Given the fact that the Mona Lisa was famously stolen out of the Louvre in 1911, I think not. However, I’m willing, in that renewed spirit of Internationalism our President is inspiring, to repropose this program to our French brothers.
For the relatively small cost of a modest apartment in the 16th Arrondissement (nothing too fancy, perhaps a small Hotel from the 1700s), I will make available two superbly trained Smooth Fox Terriers for patrolling Paris’s great museums. I can assure the Museum Directors that these Fox Terriers will meet, even exceed, anything M. Homolle might have hoped for back in 1908. I know he wasn’t looking for attack dogs, but Oscar would certainly include that service for no extra fee.
The Directors may not think a 15 pound dog can inspire much fear in a fully grown man. Ask the dodgy characters who hang out at our local dogpark. Little Oscar can clear themout in a matter of seconds. Imagine what he could do in an enclosed gallery. In addition, both Lucy and Oscar have had lifelong proximity to my old college textbooks from my days as an Art History Major. Especially when it comes to the Baroque, these are dogs that will know their Caravaggios from their Canalettos and can guard appropriately.
It should be noted, that these are also dogs that know their way around a Rhone varietal. Finally, did I mention that my Smooth Fox Terriers have another feature which the French prize highly? If any dogs can said to be chic, they are. I promise, these are museum guardians that will make any country proud, especially a country that has a former Supermodel for a First Lady. With their always sleek fur and aristrocratic long noses, the Smooth Fox Terrier is the dog Chanel would have designed had she truly been Mistress of the Universe (in more than her own mind.)
As some wise man once said: “Vita breva, ars longa“. Which, I believe, loosely translates to “Life is short. Art, and Terrier noses, are long.”
See, Art and Smooth Fox Terriers, a match that was meant to be.