11 Fluffy Facts About the Bichon Frise

David Ramos/Getty Images
David Ramos/Getty Images

These small canines have big personalities. Get to know the dog under all that white fluff.

1. The pronunciation is French.

 Bichon Frise sits in a cart
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

According to the American Kennel Club, the correct pronunciation is bee-shon free-zay.

2. There are many different kinds of bichon dogs.

The fluffy white dogs originated in the Mediterranean. Their ancestor is the barbet (water spaniel), which gave them the name barbichon. This moniker was later shortened to just bichon, which means lap dog in French. From there, the group was divided into four subsets: the bichon Bolognese, the bichon Havanese, the bichon Maltese, and the bichon Tenerife. Each name refers to the region where the type was bred. 

The bichon Tenerife eventually became the bichon frise. Frisé means "curly" in French and refers to the pooch’s locks.

3. Sailors took them overseas. 

Italian sailors kept the companion dogs to be used for bartering. They eventually found their way into the hearts of Spaniards, and flourished on the Island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where the bichon Tenerife originated. Italian sailors eventually rediscovered the dogs in the 1300s, and brought them back to mainland Europe. The tiny dogs were a big hit among Italian nobility, who would give the pups lion-style haircuts. 

4. The French loved them, too.Bichons made their way over to France during the Renaissance under Francis I, where they enjoyed a new burst of popularity. Their admiration only grew under Henry III, who loved the fluffy lap dogs. Rumor had it the king even wore a ribbon-clad basket around his neck so he could take his pets everywhere with him. The French court doted on these dogs, lavishing them with everything from satin bows to perfume. 

5. Their fancy lifestyle led to a new word.

The treatment of bichons was so extravagant, it inspired the word bichonner, a French verb meaning “to pamper.” 

6. But the party didn’t last forever.

Eventually, the love affair with the bichon faded and the little dogs were turned loose in the streets. Thanks to their intelligence and sunny disposition, the canines were used in street performances and circus acts. Gypsies favored the dogs for their ability to do tricks and charm audiences.

7. They’re always white.

bichon frise
iStock

Bichons are entirely white, with just a small amount of apricot, buff, or cream by the ears. Black eyes and a little black nose complete the look. 

8. Artists have been painting them for years. 

Famous artists from Albrecht Dürer to Auguste Renoir loved to add these dogs to their paintings. You can peruse a whole curated collection here

9. There’s no need to grab the allergy pills. 

While there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog, some breeds come close. The bichon frise does not shed and produces less dander than other dogs. As a result, sufferers of allergies might have little to no symptoms in the dogs' company. 

10. You still need to pamper them. 

prepares a Bichon Frise prior to judging
Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

Your bichon frise may not be living it up in the royal courts, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need some primping. To keep your dog’s fur white and fluffy, occasional brushing and baths are needed. Regular combing will keep their fur from getting matted or tangled.

11. One probably has more Facebook friends than you. 

Ozzie the bichon frise can skateboard, do laundry, and melt your heart. Owner Kayleigh Langdon set up a Facebook page to show fans what the dog is up to. Thanks to a wide array of props and tricks, the dog never disappoints his 4000+ followers. “Ozzie has always been a diva so it's great that he finally has the fans to go with it,” Langdon said.

The Tower of London Welcomes New Baby Ravens for the First Time in 30 Years

Some of the baby ravens born at the Tower of London
Some of the baby ravens born at the Tower of London
Tower of London Twitter (screenshot)

There are some new residents at the Tower of London. They're only about 11 inches tall, are very noisy, and eat rats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fortunately, they're also adorable—not to mention protected by legend.

On May 17, the Tower of London announced that their breeding pair of ravens, Huginn and Muninn, had welcomed four healthy chicks, the first born at the Tower since 1989. The ravens are part of an unkindness that's been located at the Tower for centuries as a sort of protective asset. According to legend, the Tower must always have ravens, or both the Tower and the kingdom will fall. It's not exactly clear when the legend began, but according to the Tower, Charles II decreed there must always be six ravens present.

Huginn and Muninn are newer additions, having arrived at the Tower in late 2018, and they weren't expected to breed this spring. So it was a surprise in mid-April when the devoted Tower Ravenmaster, Yeoman Warder Chris Skaife, noticed something exciting going on. "My suspicions were first piqued that we might have a chance of baby chicks when the parents built a huge nest suddenly overnight and then almost immediately the female bird started to sit on it," Skaife said in a Tower press release. On April 23, Skaife noticed the birds flying to the nest with food, but it was only this week he was able to get close enough to see the four healthy chicks. The sight delighted him: "Having worked with the ravens here at the Tower for the last 13 years and getting to know each of them, I feel like a proud father!"

The chicks have grown quickly, already quadrupling in size since they were born, and eat a diet of quail, rats, and mice the Ravenmaster provides. The raven parents have an egalitarian feeding arrangement: Huginn, the male, preps the food and passes it to Muninn, the female, who feeds it to her tiny chicks.

The plan is for one of the chicks to stay at the Tower and join the rest of the ravens there. "As the ravens started to hatch on the 23 April, St. George’s Day, the raven that will be staying at the Tower will be called George or Georgina in honor of the occasion," the Tower explained in a press release. According to The Telegraph, the breeding program at the Tower kicked off in response to a decline in the number of legal raven breeders in the UK.

The last raven chick born at the Tower was Ronald Raven, born May 1, 1989. In his 2018 book, The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London, Skaife wrote that "a baby raven looks a bit like a grotesque miniature gargoyle, but then you see them grow and develop ... It really is wonderful."

The baby ravens born at the Tower of London in 2019
The baby ravens born at the Tower of London in 2019 making some noise
Yeoman Warder Chris Skaife

Dozens of Donkeys, Mini-Donkeys, and Baby Donkeys Are Looking for New Homes

iStock.com/huggy1
iStock.com/huggy1

Cats and dogs aren't the only rescue animals that need permanent homes. At the Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT), there are over 60 donkeys, miniature donkeys, baby donkeys, and Thoroughbred horses up for adoption, the Cleburne Times-Review reports.

Many of the equines at HSNT's ranch in Joshua, Texas came from owners who had to give them up, and others were transferred from different animal rescue groups. As part of the ASPCA’s Help A Horse Home Challenge, HSNT is hosting events to help find new homes for its horses and donkeys.

Between April 26 and June 30 this year, the ASPCA is challenging equine organizations to adopt out as many animals as they can. The groups that see the biggest increases in adoptions between this year and last year's Help A Horse Home Challenge will share $150,000 in grant funding. On May 18 and June 8, HSNT is holding open houses at its ranch for anyone interested in adopting an animal. The events will also be used as opportunities to educate the public about the demands of equine ownership.

If you're not free to swing by one of HSNT's open houses, you can still apply to adopt a horse or donkey. Interested owners can fill out and submit this form [PDF] to equine@hsnt.org. And if you'd like to spend time with baby and mini-donkeys without taking one home, HSNT is also looking for volunteers.

[h/t Cleburne Times-Review]

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