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11 Distinguished Facts About the Scottish Terrier

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This adorably gruff-looking canine can be found everywhere from game boards to candy. Learn more about Scotland’s favorite little dog. 

1. THEIR ORIGIN IS A BIT OF A MYSTERY. 

As the name suggests, Scottish terriers come from Scotland—and that’s about all we know. The first known mention of the dog was by Bishop John Lesley in his book History of Scotland from 1436 to 1561. As he describes them, they are a "dog of low height, which creeping into subterraneous burrows, routs out foxes, badgers, martins, and wild cats from their lurking places and dens.” 

2. THEY WERE ORIGINALLY USED AS RATTERS. 

Scotties are a kind of terrier, meaning they were bred to burrow. The name terrier comes from terra (meaning earth) because they “go to ground.” Strong-willed and fierce, the dogs were used to clear out vermin from buildings and drive badgers from their homes. When facing something as fierce as a badger (on its home turf, no less) the dogs needed to be tough and recklessly brave. At one point, an author earnestly speculated that Scotties may have originated from bears instead of dogs.

3. ROYALTY LOVED THEM.

Despite having a background in extermination, the little dogs have also enjoyed the finer things in life. King James VI of Scotland was a huge fan of the Scottish terrier in the 17th century and helped popularize them in Europe. He even sent six Scotties to France as a gift. Queen Victoria was also a fan of the breed and kept some in her expansive kennel. Her favorite was a Scottie named Laddie. [PDF

4. THERE WAS A HEATED ARGUMENT ABOUT THE BREED’S PURITY. 

Scotties had their first dog show in Birmingham, England in 1860. After that, there were numerous shows that featured similar breeds, including Skye terriers, Yorkies, and Dandie Dinmonts, all claiming to be the real deal. Scottish breeders were annoyed by the mockery of their precious breed and took to print to voice their complaints. They wrote to Live Stock Journal with their arguments about what the standard should be. The arguments continued at such a ferocious pace that the publication finally put a stop to it, issuing a statement: “We see no use in prolonging this discussion unless each correspondent described the dog which he holds to be the true type.” 

Captain Gordon Murray accepted the challenge and wrote up the proper description of the perfect Scottie. It stuck until fancier J.B. Morrison finally drew up an official standard in 1880. In 1882, the Scottish Terrier Club was formed for both England and Scotland. Separate clubs were formed for each after the breed's popularity grew, but the two regions have since developed an amicable relationship. 

5. THEY GET CRAMPS IF THEY’RE TOO EXCITED. 

When Scotties get too excited, they might experience something known as the Scottie Cramp. This neurological disorder causes the muscles to tense up, making it difficult to walk. Dogs experiencing this cramp exhibit “a goose-stepping gait” and might somersault or fall over. Luckily, these episodes don’t last long and do not appear to be painful for the dogs. 

6. THEY’RE A FAVORITE MONOPOLY PIECE. 

According to Matt Collins, former vice president of marketing for Hasbro Games, the Scottie has been one of the most beloved game pieces in Monopoly since its introduction in the 1950s. In fact, it received the most votes in a recent competition to determine which pieces would get to stay a part of the set. (Sadly, the iron was voted out.)

7. THEY’RE VERY PRESIDENTIAL. 

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The Scottish terrier and the German shepherd are the only two breeds to make three appearances in the White House. The Roosevelt family was infatuated with the breed and had two: Eleanor Roosevelt had one named Meggie and FDR had one named Fala (short for Murray the Outlaw of Falahill). Roosevelt loved his dog so much that he was scarcely seen without it. You can even see a statue of Fala next to his bronzed owner at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C. 

Eisenhower was also a fan of the smart looking dogs and had three named Telek, Skunkie, and Caacie (though there is some argument about whether any actually lived in the White House). Most recently George W. Bush had two named Barney and Miss Beazley. Barney was something of a movie star and appeared in nine White House-produced films.

8. MOST SHARE A SINGLE COMMON ANCESTOR.

Most modern day Scotties can trace their lineage back to one female named Splinter II. She was owned by J. H. Ludlow, founder of the Scottish Terrier Club of England. She’s considered the mother of the breed.

9. THEY CRUSH IT AT THE WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW. 

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Besides the wire fox terrier, the Scottish terrier has the most Westminster Dog Show wins of any breed, with a whopping eight awards. The most recent win was in 2010 with a dog named Ch. Roundtown Mercedes Of Maryscot (Sadie for short). 

10. IT TAKES A WHILE FOR THEM TO WARM UP TO STRANGERS. 

Families will have no trouble getting affection from their Scotties, but strangers might have to work for it. The dogs are naturally wary of new people and it takes them a while to come around. 

11. WATCH OUT FOR DIGGING. 

Scotties are born diggers. Terriers were bred to dig and find prey, so it makes sense that they would be compelled to hit the dirt. Even if your Scottie is not a hunter, they might dig for comfort or out of boredom. To keep your rhododendron safe, make sure your dog is mentally stimulated and gets plenty of exercise.

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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