Those who regularly follow my articles and blog posts will know that a certain, very special, little lady has wormed her way into my affections. Although she is officially my mother’s dog, I have to admit that I have been completely (and literally on more than one occasion!) bowled over by Lola, our energetic, boisterous, slightly bonkers but always gorgeous Boston Terrier.
Over the years we’ve had a number of dogs of various breeds but none of them have had a personality like a Boston! Lola really is a little person in a brindle and white coat. She will often snuggle up next to me, look me square in the face and listen, cocking her head from one side to the other as I speak, as if she is listening intently to each and every word (which of course she is).
She has learnt a whole vocabulary of words, quickly learning the difference between fetching her ball, her squeaky, her tug and her bowl. When cold she will go and fetch (and wrap herself up in) her fleece or sit in front of the tumble dryer. Lola loves to watch TV and listen to music (her favourite artists are Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin) so she also is a dog of impeccable good taste!
Recently I read about two of the founders of the breed in this country, the Countess of Essex, Mary Eveline Stewart Capell and Mrs G McCormick-Goodhart.
The following was written in Hutchinson’s Dog Encyclopedia.
It is no easy thing to introduce a foreign variety into Great Britain – for one thing, the quarantine laws demand a six months’ detention before admission. Mrs G McCormick-Goodhart overcame these difficulties when in 1927, she brought over a kennel, which she established and developed so much that within five or six years the Boston Terrier had become quite a favourite among English owners, most prominent among them being the Countess of Essex.
The first registered dog in Britain was Highball Canuck, which, as a six month old puppy, cost £80, but it was not long before the Boston Terrier was on the show bench, and from its first appearance in 1928 at the kennel Club Show, it gradually increased in popularity until in 1933 it had a class to itself.
As is often the case, the people involved in the early days of these breeds are almost as interesting as the dogs themselves.
Could ‘Mrs G McCormick-Goodhart’ be Gladys Sylvani… star of the West End stage and Silent Movies – probably best remembered for her role in the 1913 film, A Woman’s Wit. She was a huge hit with the public and was without question one of the biggest most popular early English Picture stars – the quintessential English beauty.
Gladys Sylvani married a Frederick Hamilton McCormick-Goodhart, an American (does this provide her connection with the Boston Terrier?), and their marriage apparently didn’t last long as Gladys wanted to live in England while her husband wanted to make a new life for them in the US (is this the reason she returned in 1927 bringing over a kennel of Bostons?)
If Mrs G McCormick-Goodhart/Gladys Sylvani are indeed one and the same then it would explain the close friendship with the Countess of Essex because, aside from their shared love of Bostons, both of these women went through the pain of divorce and although legal reforms in the 1920s gave a wife far more inheritance and property rights than her Victorian counterpart, divorce was still widely frowned upon in society.
It’s good to think that through all the trials and tribulations these women had to face at least they had the loyalty, love, funny faces and humorous antics of the dapper ‘American Gentleman’ by their side to brighten their day.