Giving the Pekingese Credit

Andrew Soutar was a British novelist and journalist whose novels were often serialized in newspapers, many of them even made into movies from 1915 to 1932. In 1931,  he wrote in a preface:  “It was only after my own prejudices had been overcome by personal experience of him that I gave the Pekingese dog credit for nearly all that has been said of him by admirers.”

The rest of the text fairly gushes over the breed. Soutar continues: “His intelligence, on occasion, is uncanny; his quiet contempt for humans is highly provocative. And sometimes his sense of sympathy is beyond the describing.”

Soutar took the bulk of his discoveries about the breed and wove them into, “A Chinaman in Sussex: Sly Reflections of a Worldly Peke, a book of stories that shares what he learned about the life and ways of these “small Orientals.” Through the kindness of one Mrs. Sybil Whitehead (owner of the famous Ifield Pekingese), Soutar begins his tales with the casual purchase of one puppy, and goes on to share the adventures of “Choo Chow,”  “Wun Lung,” and several other dogs. The book illustrated with photographs and sketches is largely out of print in the United States, but we found three copies at Abe Books in the UK. 

It wasn’t the only time Soutar wrote about the Pekingese. In “Strange Bedfellows,” he writes about the impoverished family of Sir Thomas Shadrow, Baronet of County Something, Southern England. In particular, Soutar focuses on “Aunt Agatha” who had two obsessions in life: “Her increasing poundage and a Pekingese dog named Wung. Sir Thomas hated the mentioning of either of them.” 

It is a failing of many dedicated dog owners to resolve to own every single book written about their breed. While obscure, A Chinaman in Sussex and Strange Bedfellows might just belong on the shelf of one of our Pekingese owning readers.

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