Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

All my life I have been a dog fancier. I like all breeds, but traditionally have been attracted primarily to the sporting breeds, specifically to the English springer—that is, until we took the family to see the 2006 movie, “The Queen.” 

That occasion caused the Elder B.E. to want to have a Welsh corgi. Upon inquiring, we found that one of the most esteemed breeders of corgis in America is here in the Northern Neck. Her name is Terry Moss, and she lives at Kinsale.

After our first visit to Terry, I knew we would become “corgi people.” As a breed, corgis are classified as herding dogs. When we brought Lily home, I did not understand precisely what herding meant. I learned quickly. Corgis identify their family and their duties, as they see them to be, at an early age. Three years later, when Lily produced her offspring, Maggie, I learned even more.

As I wrote at the time, Lily died earlier this year, two months short of her 13th birthday, leaving Maggie alone with the task of running our family. This year, two events have altered her way of conducting business. The first, obviously, has been the pandemic, which has caused my Good Wife many days to work from home, transforming the dining room to her temporary office.

Maggie is thrilled to have her home, and lies nearby, in the event she is “needed.” She still enjoys a good car ride into town, but she is reluctant to leave her post in the dining room. She is unobtrusive, but she has taken liberties in the form of occasionally roving through the house, a practice she formerly did not follow.

The second, and more important, change for Maggie has been the arrival of the new B.E. She is mesmerized by the little one, sitting patiently and attentively by her side whenever possible. If we were to let her, she would be delighted to get in the playpen or the crib to be even closer. She is trying to learn the new sounds and gestures, and how she should respond to them. 

When anyone holds the new B.E., Maggie is by the person’s side, especially when walking around the house. I think she does not understand why she cannot be the sole caregiver for the newest family member. She is particularly fascinated by a musical swing, sitting dazed by it as the occupant naps away. She is sad when we move the new generation to another venue where she cannot be in as close proximity.

On our first visit to Terry, she told us about the corgis’ sense of humor, which at the time I found to be an incredulous statement. Was I ever wrong? The name “corgi” in Welsh means “dwarf dog.” The short legs are ideal for them to nip at the heels of cows or sheep to get and keep them in line; thus, a massive cow becomes totally under the direction of a small dog. Some writers refer to corgis as “German shepherds with three-inch legs.”

Maggie has accepted her new role, having relinquished her place as the youngest member of the family. She is a dutiful individual, one whose centuries of selected breeding have produced in her the quintessential corgi traits of loyalty and “bossiness.”

Happily, she does not confuse our family heels with those of the cattle and sheep her ancestors herded in Wales. She likes being in charge, but she also recognizes her place—for the most part, that is. She was born in our home almost 10 years ago, and she truly thinks of it as her turf. Terry knew what she was saying when she referred to a corgi’s sense of humor. Now, she has three generations to amuse.