This scruffy and threadbare toy dog was a gift from my parents on my 6th birthday; it may well have been bought in the toyshop featured in my previous post. As you can see he has been well loved, being almost bald from all the attentions he received throughout my childhood. As I have previously mentioned, I was obsessed with animals, and preferred animal toys that were realistic rather than anthropomorphic or stylised. I loved this dog, I’m sure he was my favourite toy. I can even recall the gruff voice with which, in my imagination, he “spoke”. I named him Terry, for terrier, although it seems that at first he was a she, and was named Sarah. I don’t remember this, but here is the evidence from my 1967/68 school news book:
An unmistakeable likeness! I still have Terry, in fact he has outlived Maisie, the cat who posed in all the other toy photos on this blog. Here she is with Terry:
Had Terry been a real dog he would never have got this close, as Maisie (who passed away peacefully on 11th December 2012, aged 15) would have clawed his face off. She truly hated dogs and took on all canine comers regardless of their size or ferocity. In this respect she resembled the tortoiseshell family cat, Frisky, with whom we shared our childhood. Frisky, an otherwise sweet and playful pet, fought dogs so ferociously that my brothers made a wooden sign they hung on the garden gate which read “Dogs Beware of the Cat”. One elderly lady used to cross the road to avoid our house when walking her little dogs, whom Frisky had terrorised. And there was an incident regarding Frisky and Terry which stands out in my memory.
Whilst playing on Barnes Common with my friends (as kids were free to do, unsupervised, in those days), I found a real dog’s lead and brought it home to put on my toy terrier. I left him in the hall and shortly afterwards was alarmed to hear hissing, spitting and yowling sounds coming through the glass door. Rushing back I found Frisky, back arched, tail and hackles high, teeth bared, ready to do battle with the canine intruder in her house. The smell of the lead must have turned Terry into a real dog for her. After that I took the lead off and gave it to Briony next door, who did have a real dog – although of course my Terry was real enough to me!
Frisky and Terry got on ok most of the time, as you can see in this photo from 1985, when I was staying back at the family home during vacation from University. Also in this picture are Bruin the bear and the previously mentioned, and long since lost, blue rabbit pyjama case!
As a child I thought myself quite clever in naming my toy dog Terry the Terrier, and it was only years later that I realised where the name had really come from. My Dad would often tell us stories about the very special, intelligent dog that he and his brothers had owned as boys. They lived in a Glasgow tenement and though there were always cats around, these were really working cats, mousers, not pets (although they were cared for: I can still remember Dad teaching me to be kind and respectful to Frisky when she arrived, as a kitten, when I was four). Their dog was a true companion with whom he and his 4 brothers shared many adventures, and I only wish I could remember those stories now. The dog’s name, of course, was Terry.
This is the only photo I know of, but I know that it’s definitely Terry because Dad confirmed this the day before he died. My Uncle Peter, the youngest of their large brood, was 18 years younger than Dad, the eldest. Peter brought an old family photograph album to my parents’ ruby wedding party, hoping that Dad, with his phenomenal memory, would be able to identify the people in the photos. I’ll never forget the emotion in my Dad’s face and voice as he saw this picture, taken at the back of their Pollokshaws Road tenement in the 1920s: “Oh, that was our good dog, Terry.” Sadly, the rest of the photos were never identified: those memories died with Dad, who had a fatal heart attack the following morning.
So, in the absence of Dad’s own memories of his dog, I’ll end this post with a few fitting lines from The Twa Dogs by his favourite poet, Robert Burns:
“He was a gash an’ faithfu’ tyke,
As ever lap a sheugh or dyke.
His honest, sonsie, baws’nt face
Aye gat him friends in ilka place;
His breast was white, his touzie back
Weel clad wi’ coat o’ glossy black;
His gawsie tail, wi’ upward curl,
Hung owre his hurdie’s wi’ a swirl”.