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The much-celebrated poodle is the beloved national dog of France, but that’s not where the breed originated. It all began in Germany, the name derived from the German word Pudel or Pudlen. Duck dog, or Caniche, is what the breed is called in France.
That’s right, despite their pampered, diva-like appearance, poodles were actually bred to be working dogs. They’re superbly suited for their job as waterfowl retrievers, and their famous puffball haircuts in fact serve a very important purpose for that type of work. Their tight curly hair is meant to insulate them in cold water, but to promote freedom of movement, the neck, legs and tail were shaved. Carefully crafted pompoms remained, designed to protect their joints and torso (vital organs) in often frigid water.
Nevertheless their iconic cutaway hairdos are perfect catwalk coiffures and have become synonymous with this handsome breed. There are three acceptable styles when appearing before discerning dog show judges: continental clip, modified continental clip and English saddle. There’s also the puppy clip for baby poodles debuting on the show circuit.
Snowflakes, the tiny star of the romantic suspense, Looking for Snowflakes, is a toy poodle who has a thing or two to say about the sturdy stuff that poodles are made of. She is a force to be reckoned with and her typically sweet personality not only touches lives, but makes the most of whatever situation she happens to find herself in:
“Just then the back door opened and Luke Barker snuck in. He slipped a small package onto the top shelf of the closet before announcing he was home early because the office had closed.
Snowflakes was the first one to the back door to greet him, her tiny pink tongue lolling in a dazzling smile. And since there was no food in the kitchen, maybe this good-looking young gentleman might have a treat or two up his sleeve. So she sat back on her paws and giving it everything she had, pranced with her front feet. To her bewilderment her performance didn’t seem to impress him, the man just stared at her as though he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Next to arrive was Sarah. ‘Daddy!’ she yelled as he picked her up and swung her around before setting her back on the floor. ‘Look at my new baby dog! Her name is Snowflakes.’
Danielle Barker had now come to the back door as well, walking into the unblinking stare of her husband, the look that said why is there a dog here? We didn’t discuss this!
He first stared at the dog and then at his daughter, before his gaze swung back to his wife. ‘Danielle, have you got a minute?’”
Soft, white and curly, Snowflakes is the star of the show although poodle lovers, unlike fanciers of most breeds, have four sizes to choose from: standard, miniature, toy and teacup, as well as a myriad of hypoallergenic coat colours.
Playful but dignified, these dogs are friendly, devoted and keenly protective of their people friends. Poodles of every size and colour have been the favourites of some very well known pet owners: Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill and more, and all knew the joys of friendship with these versatile animals.
Poodles are recognized as one of the most intelligent breeds in the world, and highly trainable. Just a few of their outstanding abilities include excelling at performance sports, working as guide and therapy dogs, and being natural entertainers are outstanding circus performers. Also adept at truffle foraging, they were often used together with Dachshunds who are low enough to the ground to easily dig out this prized edible fungus.
And they have proven themselves to have plenty of try too, a hallmark of their impressive ancestry over the roughly 400 years since the breed first appeared. Remarkably, a team that included standard poodles once competed in the grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an Alaskan event covering roughly 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome. The results were less than stellar for the poodles, but it was not the fault of those valiant animals. That annual competition now permits “only dogs suitable for arctic travel” (Alaskan Malamute, Siberian husky or a mixed breed like the Alaskan husky) to compete, because the icy climate can eventually overwhelm single-coated breeds like poodles who are not at all suited to such harsh northern conditions.
Poodles have distinguished themselves in other ways too, such as Montee from Idaho, the standard poodle who tipped the scales at an amazing one hundred pounds, and novelist John Steinbeck’s pal, Charles le Chien, was also a standard. Steinbeck and Charley were inseparable companions as they toured thirty-four states together in a pick-up truck on a 10,000 mile journey of discovery in 1960.
History also remembers outstanding poodles such as Sancho. Found on his master’s grave following the 1812 Battle of Salamanca in Spain (Peninsular war), he was adopted by Lord Worcester and taken to live in London. And Boye, also a standard poodle, was believed to belong to Prince Rupert of Rhine. During his Royalist master’s incarceration and later on the field of battle, Boye remained steadfast at Rupert’s side; a Royal mascot who held the honourary title of “Sergent-Major-General.”
There have also been famous miniature poodles: Aero, owned by Japanese figure skating star Mao Asada appeared in commercials with the popular Olympian, and Edward, a TV commercial celebrity and much-welcome fixture at A-list fashion shoots. Jinkee a toy poodle and red like Aero and Edward, is a social media magnet with more Instagram followers than her owner, food and travel journalist, Sofia Levin, according to knowyourdoodles.com.
Poodles have been featured on both the small and big screen; immortalized on canvas, and made their mark in cartoons, including Cleo Diller, Penelope Poodle and did you know the immortal Betty Boop was originally depicted as an anthropomorphic poodle?
And then of course little Snowflakes from Stoney Creek has also been blessed with a generous dusting of poodle magic in Looking for Snowflakes:
“It had been a long day for Bob and as he neared the end of his deliveries he was looking forward to his easy chair in the living room of the modest home he shared with Sue. A quiet Christmas Eve in front of their lovely decorated tree. However when he climbed in and pulled the last Christmas box toward him, he was dismayed to see that its corner was torn. The foil was partially ripped away, and some of the meal missing. He was perplexed. How on earth could such a thing have happened? He certainly couldn’t deliver it in its present condition. Had Sue dropped it by any chance when she was helping him carry their precious cargo out to the van this morning? No, she’d never allow it to be loaded in that condition.
He could see his easy chair getting a little further away because this meal would have to be replaced. He couldn’t disappoint the last senior on his list who was eagerly awaiting his arrival. Sue would have to make up a new plate, but she could easily do so because she’d simply take from their own Christmas dinner to replenish the one that had been damaged. Vandalized? Good lord, were their rats in here or something? And then he spied a little white curly leg protruding from the back of the passenger seat. A dog had to be stretched out in back of the seat, sleeping!
Climbing all the way inside was no easy feat considering his painful arthritic hip. He pushed the curtain that separated the cab from the cargo area, all the way to the side. Snowflakes raised her head lazily, her eyes winking as she tried to come awake from a most wonderful nap.
‘Well what do we have here?’ he asked kindly. ‘I do believe I’ve picked up a passenger somewhere along the line. Hungry were you girl?’
Snowflakes was fully awake now and she cocked her head sideways and smiled her adorable little smile. Her tiny pink tongue lolled as if to say I’m sorry I stole some of that meal, but I just couldn’t resist. It was really good too by the way, my compliments to the chef. You wouldn’t happen to have an extra sugar cookie would you?”
On a trip,my children and I met a poodle who was off to his summer vacation working as a herding dog on a ranch,ReplyDelete
I do like French Poodles, although my tastes lean toward cats. The poodle in this story also seems very intelligent. I like intelligent pets. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
I had two toy poodles and of the many dogs I have had since then, they were the most intelligent and faithful--and fun.ReplyDelete
Poodles = smart and good natured, they are natural stars of the canid worldReplyDelete