Dandie Dinmont Clan Gathering
A Dandie! pictorial trip through Scotland’s historical Dandie Dinmont breed sites; the Kirk, Abbottsford, Bowhill, the Old Ginger statue and for terrier enthusiasts!
Carol R. Hamilton, AKC Judge, Performance and Conformation
On June 4th, 1842, Old Ginger came into this world at The Haining in Selkirk, Scotland. This birth, though you may not be aware, changed the course of history for many of us. Old Ginger is the one sire that all Dandie Dinmont Terriers can trace their male lineage to him. He is quite literally, the father of a breed that many of us hold dear.
So, on Sunday, June 4, 2017, a gathering of THE Clan ended their 4 day pilgrimage with a parade from the Town Center to The Haining (in Melrose, Scotland – the Border Country) and the kennel where Old Ginger was born. A larger than life bronze statue was unveiled and a new learning center was dedicated to help people learn about this wonderful breed. I was lucky enough to be one of about 200 participants from all over the world. The finale was a derby with 115 Dandies racing for food, hugs and kisses, and even a few that decided the race was to see who could be the cutest.
We started on Thursday afternoon with a Meet and Greet. Many of us knew each other from emails and Facebook, but it was great to put a face with a name. The locals and many Europeans brought Dandies with them, so those of us missing our own could have a Dandie "fix" to help us get through the weekend. The Dryburgh Hotel proved to be a fantastic meeting place - set in a beautiful wooded landscape with a lake nearby. They were very hospitable to the dogs and people.
Friday presented us with several choices:
Lochcsrron of Scotland Mill opened their doors for a behind the scenes tour of a woolen mill. The accompanying Dandies found many willing to entertain them so their owners could tour and shop. Again, those without Dandies gladly sacrificed their time so others could tour. It was rough work but I didn't see a frown on any pup sitters.
Some of use visited Abbottsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, the jurist who authored "Guy Mannering" in 1815 and who named the Dandie Dinmont in his book. By the way – the Dandie is the only breed named for a fictional character – not a real person.
While we were touring the luxurious home of Sir Walter Scott, others went to Oxnam Kirk (Kirk, by the way, is Scottish for church) to pay homage James Davidson, who Sir Walter Scott used for Dandie Dinmont, and take pictures of his grave with descendants of his fierce terriers on and around the grave.
About 20 years ago, I had dragged my husband in the pouring rain from cemetery to cemetery looking for Mr. Davidsons grave with no luck. This time, I was better prepared. We not only found the Kirk and the grave, but we also found a Dandie visiting when we got there. They then went for a gin tasting or beer tasting or just a lovely walk in the Borders.
That evening, we were all treated to a unique Dandie Dinmont Tartan Fashion Show, and yes, there were tartan and tartan objects for both the two-legged and four-legged attendees. The black and white tartan that you may see Dandies and Dandie owners wearing was Sir Walter Scott's own personal tartan and our Dandies have been given permission to wear it. That is a HUGE honor. If you are interested, check out "Scotch Tweed" by Angela Louder and her team from Selkirk.
Saturday was another bright and sunny day in the Borders and we all traipsed off to Bowhill, the estate where Old Pepper (the sire of Old Ginger) was found in a game trap. This was made possible by the kind invitation of the 10th Duke of Buccleuch, Duke Richard Scott, who is also Patron of the Abbotsford Trust and Chief of the Clan Scott. Not only is this house magnificent, 100 rooms on a simple but beautiful estate, but we were also greeted by Duke Richard and his family. What a nice man and he loves Dandies!!!
While there, we were treated to a talk by two Scottish gamekeepers. As the Dandie was an integral part of their work, this was very educational. I got to speak a bit with both afterward about our earthdog tests here in the states.
Later that afternoon, we gathered at the grave of James Kerss, at the Kirkhope Cemetery. Rev Samuel Siroky, the current minister of the parish, greeted us and performed a Service of Rembrance and Celebration of Life. For those not schooled in Dandie history, James Kerss was the Bowhill gamekeeper who found a Dandie in a game trap, recognized the value of Old Pepper and provided the first piece of the jig-saw we now know as the Dandie Dinmont Terrier. Mr. Kerss was gamekeeper for 46 years and passed away on March 8th, 1880.
After laying wreaths at his grave and meeting a descendant, the ceremony concluded with the blessing of about 30 Dandies. It was a hot day, and a couple of Dandies decided the blessing on the outside wasn’t enough – so they sipped from the water being used.
The initial goal was to raise the necessary funds for the statue. Expectations were exceeded and, thanks to the generosity of the Kennel Club, there is the beginning of a learning center in the original kennel where Old Ginger (who, by the way was a pepper-colored dog) was born.
This is statue of Old Ginger with the two movers and shakers who orchestrated this weekend. Paul Keevil from the UK (and the breeder of one of my Dandie lines) and Mrs. Mike McBeth (a Dandie breeder and CKC judge in Canada). The fellow on the right is the sculptor.
There is a computer with a fantastic database that should be able to create the lineage for any Dandie, along with informational signs and posters. The hope is to encourage more people to learn and fall in love with the Dandies. The Dandie Dimont Terrier is a very endangered breed!