“Lovely Fire” By Mrs. Evelyn Kirk
Article written by Breeder Judge Mrs. Evelyn Kirk, Balachan Scotties in 1977.
Reprinted with permission of Laura Kirk Zimmerman
About six years ago, when asked about it, Tony Stamm agreed that “Type, like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder.” I think to a great extent that is true. I’ve been present (on the other end of the lead) when a judge said, “This is a close decision: the two dogs are so much alike,” when I thought they were like night and day. Also, the other extreme, “These two dogs are very different, each good in his own way,” when I thought them almost identical.
But, what makes the dog typical, what sets him apart from all the other animals in the world? I believe it’s his pride in being a Scottish Terrier!
His commanding presence, his unflinching gaze, and his deep rooted conviction that he is his own man; these are the attributes of the adult Scottish Terrier of a proper type. Once witnessed, this attitude is hard to forget. Seldom seen, it is a thrilling experience.
I don’t want to mislead you; the dog must have all the other features which label him a Scottie, even to the untrained eye. The inexperienced spectator can pick the right dog almost every time because he dog is so pleasing to behold.
This is where good balance comes in. The dog must not look as if he is going to tip over on his nose. In outline, he must have that beautiful line down his arched neck, over his well-knit withers, and onto his rather short back to his handful of tail. It’s a pleasure to run your hands over such a dog. It should be a continuous flow, not interrupted at the withers by too-straight shoulders or a roach over loin.
There should be enough of him extending behind his tail to balance his forepiece. Well-muscled thighs fill your hands and you think to yourself, “Good Hams.” You’d like to give that broad bottom a pat, but you feel the impropriety of such a gesture. The feet are firmly planted and the upright hocks unyielding to pressure.
His brisket is deep, deep and well-padded with flesh to protect the point of ribs when he is hard at work. It is on this pad that his body rests, freeing his forelegs to dig. A round rib cage is a detriment to a typical Scottish Terrier. The rib cage extends well back so that his last rib is definitely beyond the halfway point on his body.
The forelegs do not come down straight from the point of shoulder on the typical Scottish Terrier. They extend down from his elbow, which is at the end of his upper arm. This upper arm, often overlooked, is an essential part of his front assembly. The proper length of upper arm allows the dog’s forelegs to be set well back at his sides, displaying his broad chest and providing the room needed for his deep brisket between those legs. His proper lay-back of shoulder blade will give him the reach needed to offset the thrust of his powerful hindquarters.
The beauty of his head can be enhanced by proper grooming. Whiskers combed forward, the head is a rectangle. Lean at the sides of the skull, it diminishes very little to the muzzle. It is filled in under the eyes in the molar area of the upper jaw.
His large black nose twitches with interest as you approach and he allows you to examine his wide, scissor bite. His head is heavy in your hands and you can hardly encircle his muzzle with your fingers. His deep-set eyes have a dark expression of composure and something else, not definable.
Overall, there stretches a tight jacket of various textures. Softest of all is on his small ears. The rest of his hair is hard with his back coat being of great coarseness. As you test his coat in a scratching motion, your fingertips come in contact with and undercoat of incredible thick down.
As the dog is placed on the floor to exhibit that gait which is peculiarly his own, he invariably shakes. He must get comfortable again, after being lifted onto and off the table and after you have touched him and disarranged his hair. He gives you a quick disdainful glance as he moves off about his business.
You wonder, as you watch him gait, pose and stalk past his competitors, how could so much dog be packed inside that small package? Where did he get that indomitable spirit; from whom did he acquire that unshakable faith in himself?
Without this temperament, the “Lovely Fire,” as Heywood Hartley expresses it, the dog is just another dog. The “cutey-pies” that wag, and kiss, and wiggle their way into your heart, makes friends for the breed and we thank God for them, but the dog that makes you spine tingle, that makes a lump come into your throat, who stands alone in his undeniable glory is the typical SCOTTISH TERRIER.