The TT: Part of the Story You Might Not Know

She became one of the first female surgeons at a time when a woman doctor was unusual, but encouraged by a veterinarian whom she occasionally helped while growing up, the young woman would go on to receive degrees in both medicine and surgery from Edinburgh University. The new Dr. A.R.H. Greig eventually became the doctor-in-charge of a hospital under the direction of the British Woman’s Medical Association on the Indian-Tibetan border.

By now, Tibetan Terrier owners will be able to predict the rest of Dr. Greig’s story and their breed. For those less familiar with the story….

It was after the successful operation on the stomach of a patient in Cawnpore that a pair of Tibetans arrived at Dr. Greig’s hospital with their belongings and their animals, and they refused to leave until they saw Dr.  Greig. Dr. Greig would later recount that with the help of a Nepales nursing sister who spoke a little Tibetan and some Urdu, they learned that the couple wanted Dr.Greig to remove a bad spirit from the wife just as Dr. Greig had removed a bad spirit from their friend’s stomach.

An examination revealed that the woman had a large ovarian cyst, and preparations were made for surgery. The couple, however,  insisted that their pregnant dog remain with her mistress during surgery, which of course was impossible. Dr. Greig promised that if their dog was quiet and obedient, she could stay with Dr. Greig until her mistress was well enough to have her back. A deal was struck, and that was Dr. Greig’s first encounter with a Tibetan Terrier.

The operation was a success, and the woman made a full recovery. Later, the family brought the dog and her new puppies to visit Dr. Greig, and gifted the good doctor with her choice of a puppy as a token of their gratitude. This was a high honor as these dogs were considered holy, and could only be given as a gift by a monk on a special occasion to offer good fortune.

The grateful husband told Dr. Greig, “As long as you have “Bunti” or a descendant of hers, you will find someone or something to help you when you need it.”

We come to a part of the story that some of you may not know, a tale we found in a 45 year old book.

A couple of years after Dr. Greig acquired Bunti, she was able to breed her to a male named, “Rajah,” given to her by other Tibetans. A bit of time elapsed, and Dr. Greig was walking one of Rajah and Bunti’s offspring down a street near the hospital when a dog rushed at them. The little TT jumped in front of her mistress to protect her, but despite all efforts to save her, the bite proved fatal. The dog that had attacked her was rabid.

In accordance with Indian law, the dog’s brain had to be sent to a pathologist for lab work. After examining the brain, the pathologist asked Dr. Greig what breed of dog it had come from. “It’s unlike any dog brain I’ve ever seen,” he said.”The dog to which this brain belonged must have been able to reason as it had brain patterns and formations equal to those of a six year old child.”

Whether the anecdote is accurate or not, it is a wonderful breed legend, and given the breed’s intelligence and reputation as a “little person,” it’s one we suspect TT owners will believe.

As an aside, the first Tibetan Terrier puppy in Europe came in 1922 and belonged to Dr. A.R.H. Greig.

Image: Tibetan Terrier by LA Shepard/thedoglover
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