Cairn Terriers


Gracie sunning on the deck

I have been proudly owned by two cairn terriers in my lifetime, over a span of 28 years, and fully expect to have the pleasure of loving at least one more.  Having recently lost our sweet girl Gracie I am still very tender-hearted, but wanted to write and expound on the attributes of these dogs, small in stature but so very big in heart.

Webster defines the cairn terrier as-

“One of the oldest of the terrier breeds, originating in the Scottish Highlands and recognized as one of Scotland’s earliest working dogs. The breed was given the name cairn, because the breed’s function was to hunt and chase quarry between the cairns in the Scottish highlands.”

Indeed, they are known for their ability to catch rats and small rodents.  I think one of my cairns’ favorite pastimes was chasing squirrels.  Thankfully they never quite succeeded in catching one, but came awfully close on more than one occasion!  We have always had cats, but cat chasing was reserved for the “outdoor” stray cats, and not our own.  The game was certainly in the chase, because our cairns were far too gentle to ever hurt any cat.  In fact they are perfect companions for other family pets.

And as you can imagine, going after quarry in the cairns would involve digging and a willingness to go underground.  For this reason cairns excel in earth dog trials, and are listed as one of the eligible breeds to compete in these AKC events.  While my girls never competed, my first cairn Tessa could turn dirt faster than I could with my best shovel.  If I could have just taught her how to dig where I needed a garden planted…

Cairns have a rough, weather-resistant coat that comes in a variety of colors, and can include any color except white.  Many are brindles, with a variety of colors in their coat.  They are one of the few dog breeds that are said to be good for folks that have pet allergies, registering on the “low” end of the allergic scale for most people.  I can attest also to their ease in grooming.  And hey, a little dog that I can bathe in the kitchen sink is the dog for me!  They average in size from about 12-17 pounds.

By far their greatest attribute, though, is their winning personality.  They are feisty, independent, extremely intelligent, and robustly active.  They are perfect as a child’s pet, because they can handle both the roughhousing and high energy level that children naturally have.  My first cairn played with the neighborhood children for hours, chasing a ball and going down the playhouse slide with the kids.  So cute!

Both of my cairns showed an absolute fascination with fetching.  Cairns learn quickly, and once taught will fetch a ball or toy for hours, so be prepared.  They do need to be actively played with and/or walked every day due to their high energy level.  They slow down a little when older, but not much.  That said, they rest as hard as they play, and are not nervous dogs that stay constantly underfoot.

Most famous cairn ever?  No doubt the dark cairn terrier that played Toto in the 1939 movie the Wizard of Oz.  And cairns have played in many movies.  In fact here is a list of just some of the movies they have played in.  See some of these movies and their adorable pups!

So, if you are looking for a small breed dog that’s easy to keep and has the most wonderful personality, think about getting a cairn terrier.  I promise they will win you over with their scruffy charm.  And if you have any questions about these great little dogs just ask.  I will be more than happy to respond!

“Remember, it is not how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.”-Wizard of Oz, 1939


Little Owls


About a week ago my dog Gracie gave me a bit of a scare.  I turned on the back porch light and let her outside for one last time for the evening before going to bed.  It was about 10:00pm, and as soon as she stepped out onto our back patio and into the semi-darkness, she immediately took out after something she had seen.  She veered left and to some trees just off the patio.  We had a clay basin with water on the patio (with temps this week at 100 degrees), and I was sure something had been getting a drink when I opened the door to let her out.  I went out after her and didn’t see anything.  Afraid it might be a possum or who knows what, I got her back inside as quickly as possible.

After getting her settled in her bed for the night, I went back and turned on the patio light again, making sure all other house lights were off, and watched to see if whatever she was chasing might come back for more water…and they did.  To my great surprise, and enjoyment, a pair of tiny screech owls came to drink at the basin.  At first I thought they were doves, but the body shape was all wrong – and then one of them turned their head almost backwards to peer in the window at me!  Little golden eyes in the night, they made quick flights in and out of the trees to the water, and hopped and gave short flight on the patio chasing evening bugs.  I stood and watched them for about 15 minutes until they disappeared completely into the darkness.  I guess I always thought of owls as big birds, but these certainly were not.  Still, they are predators with talons, so Gracie had best leave them alone!

Sleepy Time


We had some terrific Texas thunderstorms night before last, and a few again last night.  Short sleep, Gracie was taking full advantage of her comfortable bed this morning!  (You can see why the “bumper” sides are necessary.)  Now this little dog knows how to relax!  Sweet dreams, Gracie.

Does your dog sleep on their back?

Academy Awards


As the week for the academy awards, I thought I would take a step back in time.  In this household we absolutely love classic movies, and tune in to TCM on a regular basis.  Last night they just happened to show one of my very favorite films – The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.



This black & white romantic fantasy, released in 1947, was nominated for best cinematography in 1948.  In my humble opinion, it should have been nominated for much more.  The music score is (pardon the pun) hauntingly beautiful, the scenery makes you yearn for your own cottage by the sea, and the story is timeless and superbly written.  And, oh yes, the acting is wonderful too, with actress Gene Tierney playing the headstrong beautiful widow Lucy, and Rex Harrison playing the role of ghostly Captain Gregg.  The young daughter is played by a very pretty Natalie Wood.



And then there is the cairn terrier called Rommy in the movie.   According to the website cairnterriermovies, the cairn terrier Rommy was the pup of cairn terrier Terry (aka the famous Toto)!  Cairn terrier dogs on the big screen were extra popular in the 1930-1940’s.

Although this movie is set in Victorian England around the turn of the century (1900), much of it is actually filmed on location in Stillwater Cove Regional Park along coastal highway 1 in Sonoma County, California.  Some sites say filming was also done at Pebble Beach along the 17-mile scenic drive.  Now who would not want a cottage by the sea here?


I have the Ghost and Mrs. Muir pinned on my Pinterest board as a favorite movie.  Check out this beautiful tribute to the film…but fair warning, don’t watch unless you want to know how it ends!  Better yet, rent the movie and curl up with some hot chocolate and a warm blanket.  You won’t be disappointed!


Gracie’s New Bed


Well, over the holidays I took the time to create Gracie a new bed.  And with all the fabrics I have to choose from, I selected a neutral gray color for the bed form itself, and a lime-yellow minky fabric for the base pillow cover.  I love how it turned out, and Gracie also seems quite content with her new king-sized bed!  She digs around in it every night before settling in.  Yes it would fit TWO Gracie’s, but it’s just for my sweet girl.


When the weather gets warmer (which will happen pretty quick in Texas), I can make a nice cotton print cover for her base pillow that will help to keep her cool on warm Texas nights.  Love keeping the bed neutral and being able to switch out the pillow cover or add pattern via a blanket!


Sweet Dreams, Gracie!

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