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The common people of China had no great love for the canine species but, their rulers, had royal enthusiasm for the dog even as long ago as 1800 years before the Christian era. The surest way to a Chinese Emperor’s heart was to present him with a beautiful Pekingese dog. To him its value was only second to that of the precious pearl, the Chinese symbol of that supreme wisdom which is so rare and unattainable.

This proud race of small dogs was revered with religious reverence by the Chinese Emperors. The eunuchs of the Court, who in the thousands served in the Imperial Places, took up the breeding of the dogs with utmost zeal. The keeping of written pedigrees was unknown, but the marvelously retentive memory of the Chinese, their most highly cherished faculty, would reach back with ease through countless generations of dogs, enabling them to elucidate the most intricate relationships with precision that would stagger the Western mind.

The favorite dogs were given the rank of the highest mandarin – they were created dukes and princes and were granted kingly revues. They were the constant companions of the Emperor and his ladies, constantly pampered and petted, and the smaller ones – the highly prized “sleeve” dog was carried about in the voluminous sleeves of the long robes worn at the Court by both sexes.

The Pekingese is the perfect aristocrat. After hundreds of years of having your merest whim obeyed, of being pampered and kowtowed to by masses of personal attendants, is it any wonder that he adores his master.   Force will do nothing with him  –  ask him politely, and he will do your bidding. Plead with him and he obeys with joyous alacrity, for he is the most loving, most devoted, biggest-hearted little fellow in the world.

From “The Lion Dog Of Peking”  by Annie Coath Dixey published in 1931

 

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