Remembering Our Ancestors: The Small Things

There is so much to know about our ancestors, and the small things are often the most wonderful.

Recently, I was gifted a bunch of old family pictures, in digital format. Wonderful! Here are two that seem particularly noteworthy.

Haven’t you also found that when it comes to genealogy, it’s the little things that tell you the most? Oh yes, there is lots to glean and surmise (and imagine) from census data and other collections of dates and places, and we have done so countless times. But the two pictures below have told me more about my father than any data: Jupp and Aenne loved little feisty dachshunds. The more, the merrier, it seems. How wonderful.

This must have been around 1950.
The smile on his face…

Mans Best Friend: The Pomeranian

These little puffballs may seem like some Asian toy breed, but they are actually Spitz dogs from Germany, and they used to be much bigger.

These dogs, with their foxy faces and petite stature, have captured the hearts of many, even Queen Victoria!


From:  Germany
9-11 in (22-28 cm)
4-6 lbs (2-3 kg)
Variety of colors, soft and fluffy 
Grooming: Multiple times each week
Maybe 40 mins of play a day
K-9 Qualities: 
Loving but possibly very vocal


The AKC says:

The Pomeranian is a miniaturized relation of the powerful spitz-type sled dogs of the Arctic. The breed is named for Pomerania, the area of northeastern Europe that is now part of Poland and western Germany. It was there, hundreds of years ago, that the Pom’s ancestors were bred down from their much bigger, burlier cousins.

The Pom, also known as the Zwergspitz in some countries, is the smallest of the spitz breeds. With their elegant appearance and regal bearing, you might say Poms are “fit for a queen”—and you’d be right. The Pom’s popularity is largely due to Queen Victoria, who became smitten with the breed while visiting Florence, Italy. When the dog-happy Dowager Queen returned to Britain with Poms in tow, the breed’s fame was assured.

Victoria became a serious breeder and exhibitor of Poms. At the 1891 Crufts dog show, Victoria showed six of her breeding. One of her favorites, Windsor Marco, won first place in the breed. (A British historian wrote, “It would have been a brave judge to have placed her second.”) Victoria is credited for reducing the Pom’s size from about 30 pounds to their current toy stature. It was reported that as the aged queen lay dying in 1901, her favorite Pom, Turi, kept vigil at the foot of her bed.

Other historical figures of refined sensibilities who were Pom owners include Marie Antoinette, Emile Zola, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


Pomeranians are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as luxating patellas (kneecaps that slip out of place), hypothyroidism, collapsing tracheas, congestive heart failure, seizures, and alopecia X (black skin disease).


The Pom should be trained to walk on a leash early on and taught to come when called.  It is also hard to housbreak him, so consistency and patience are key. It is important to keep your Pom from jumping on and off couches or beds, as they can injure joints or even break a bone. Poms are alert and highly intelligent, and they enjoy and can excel in canine activities like agility, rally, and obedience, or working as therapy dogs.

Num 3

Breed Description:

The Pomeranian is a compact, short-backed, active toy dog with Nordic descent. The double coat consists of a short dense undercoat with a profuse harsh-textured longer outer coat. The heavily plumed tail is one of the characteristics of the breed, which is set high and lies flat on the back. He is alert in character, exhibits intelligence in expression, is buoyant in deportment, and is inquisitive by nature. The Pomeranian is cocky, commanding, and animated as he gaits and in composition, he is sound.

Mans Best Friend: The Alaskan Klee Kai

These fluffy bundles of energy were bred to be smaller versions of huskies or malamutes.


From:  U.S.A
Up to 13 in (33 cm) for toy; 13-15 in (33-38 cm) for miniature; 15-17 in (38-44 cm) for standard
Up to 9 lbs (4 kg) for toy; 9-15 lbs (4-7 kg) for miniature, and 15-22 lbs (7-10 kg) for standard
Gray and white, black and white, shades of sable to red; dense to moderately long 
Grooming: Several times a week, maybe every other day
At least 2 hrs a day of exersize
K-9 Qualities: 
Loving and energetic

Families make the perfect pack for them!


This Alaskan breed was developed by Linda Spurlin and her family to be a companion-sized version of the Alaskan Husky. From the early 1970s through 1988, the Spurlins carefully selected dogs who met their high standards for appearance and soundness. In 1988, they made the Alaskan Klee Kai available to others.  Mrs Spurlin originally called her new breed the “Klee Kai,” but in 1995 the name was changed to Alaskan Klee Kai.


There are few health concerns with the breed. A bleeding disorder called Factor VII has all but been eradicated through thoughtful breeding practices. There have been a handful of reports of congenital heart defects and liver shunts. As with many small breed dogs, luxating patella issues are possible.

The AKC (American Kennel Club) has an article on the Alaskan Klee Kai.

Related Breeds:  Husky and Malamute.





Man’s Best Friend: The Xoloitzcuintli

They do not like to be alone.

The Xoloitzcuintli, pronounced show-loh-etts-qweent-lee, also known as Xolo or Mexican hairless dog, is a pretty dog and does not enjoy the day alone.



  • From: Mexico
  • Height: 10-12 in for toy (25-35 cm), 14-18 in for mini (36-45 cm), 18-23 in for standard (46-60 cm)
  • Weight: 5-15 lbs for toy (2-7 kg), 15-31 lbs for mini (7-14 kg), and 24-40 lbs for standard (11-18 kg)
  • Coat: A variety of colors, hairless or short fur
  • Grooming: Twice a week.
  • Exersize Needs: Several long walks or play sessions
  • K-9 Qualites: Loyal, and good natured


Xoloitzcuintlis have a sleek body, almond shaped eyes, large bat-like ears, and a long neck.  Some puppies are born with fur.  Most of them are black or blue-gray in color.

Being hairless, Xoloitzcuintlis are a rare breed of primitive dog.  They need gentle play and love people, enjoy long walks in the yard and like to just hang out with people a lot.  If not trained properly, they can get a little bossy, mostly the toy ones.

Fun Fact:  Some ‘Chupacabras‘ that people claim they have seen were actually Xoloitzcuintlis.  Since this primitive dog breed is not very well known, as is the fact that dogs can be hairless in the first place, it does not fit most people’s idea of a dog.  Therefore they probably assume that what they have seen can’t have been a common dog, although they often describe the animal as a “hairless dog”.




Man’s Best Friend: The Basenji

Basenjis are built to be expressive.

The Basenji is one of the few dogs who can’t bark.  Instead, it produces an unusual yodel-like sound (commonly called a “baroo”), due to its unusually shaped larynx.  They express themselves by yodleing, crowing, howling, chortling, and screaming.


  • From: Central Africa
  • Height: 16-17 in 40-43 cm
  • Coat: Chestnut red, black, brindle, black and tan or chestnut, all with various white markings, smooth and shiny
  • Grooming: Once a week
  • Exersize needs: A hour of play
  • K-9 Qualites: Independent and affectionate

Basenjis are highly prey driven and will go after cats and other small animals.


They are curious and energetic, and have a mind of their own.  Their tails curl and when they perk up their ears, they look like they are in deep thought.


Basenjis might make some fun of their own and they are often into mischief.


They are known as African Barkless Dogs and still help with hunting in the remote forests of Central Africa.


Basenjis are built to be expressive.


They are very agile and love chasing fake prey, so you can imagine that Basenjis are skilled at canine sports.



Man’s Best Friend: The Great Pyrenees

They are very cute!

Once they where known as the royal dog of France. And I think they are very cute!

  • From:France
  • Height:26-28 in (60-70 cm)
  • Weight:88-110 (40-50 kg)
  • Coat:White,possibly with tan patches;dense,wavy
  • Grooming:Once or twice a week
  • Exersise needs:40 min romp in the yard
  • K-9 Qualites:Loving,smart and strong-willed


They are sort of nocturnal because they had to protect the sheep at night.




And their white coats blend in with the sheep so they can catch predators by suprise.


The breed is said to be part of the mix that was used to create the Leonberger.

However, the breed can typically be trusted with small, young and helpless animals of any kind due to its natural guardian instinct.

On average, their lifespan is 10 to 11 years.


In nature, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle (especially with children) and affectionate.

Man’s Best Friend: The Husky

If you want to race the 1,049 mile (1,688 km) Iditarod Trail sled-dog race, these are the dogs you’ll want to race with.

These beautiful and thick-coated dogs are my favorite breed.

Husky for postFrom:  Russia
20-24 in (51-60 cm)
 35-60 lbs (16-27 kg)
 Variety of colors from black to pure white, with markings
 Several times a week, maybe every other day
Several hours of playtime each day
K-9 Qualities: 
Friendly and sociable

Cute puppy


These dogs were bred by the Chukci people of North-Eastern Siberia, and they are internationally recognized as endurance athletes.

In the early 1900s, the Alaskan people heard about the Siberian sled dogs, and imported some and raced them against Malamutes, who were twice their size, and, the huskies dominated the sled races for the next decade.



Siberian huskies are the ideal sled dog.  Their shoulder width, the length of their backs, and their hip angles make for long strides, and their slightly smaller size does not allow for overheating.  Unlike greyhounds and other sprinters, who leap through the air, huskies actually always keep one paw on the ground at all times, which helps with pulling their sled forward.  And, they have thick fur on the bottom of their paws to keep them warm, unlike other dogs!  They even sleep in the snow, and stay warm!  They curl up in a ball and wrap their fluffy tails over their noses so they breathe warm air.  So cute!!

Siberian huskies are not just hardy endurance athletes:  They’re also playful and sociable, qualities the Chukchi knew very well were the key to sled teams working together smoothly.  Those qualities make them fun and loving members for their new packs: Their families.


The Husky Heroes: Togo and Balto

In 1925, Nome, Alaska, U.S.A. was in a crisis.  They were threatened with an outbreak of diphtheria, a deadly disease that was infecting mostly children.  Back in 1925, instead of vaccines, they used antitoxin serum, but there was none to be found in Nome.  The nearest supply was 674 miles (1,085 km) away, and it seemed impossible to get it there because most of the transportation had been shut down on account of the harshest winter in 20 years.  Nome’s only hope lay in their sled dogs.  Normally, it would take the dogs 25 days to get there, but the antitoxin would be ruined within six days by the extreme cold.  Haste was essential, and 20 dog teams were lined up along the serum relay.  When Leonhard Seppala and his teams finally received the serum, two days remained.  The only way to make it in time: Taking a shortcut across an inlay in the Bering Sea, and it was dangerous because it was not completely frozen.  When he set out, their path crossed with that of a blizzard, and Mr. Seppala was blind in the whiteout, so he counted on Togo, his lead dog, to lead the way.  Togo led them safely across, and the serum was given to the final team, led by Balto, and half a day was left when Balto arrived, and 10,000 lives were saved.


Related Breeds: The Alaskan Klee Kai and the Malamute

Cultured Wednesday: Barber’s Suspense

In this house we have three reasonably little girls and three reasonably big dogs.  It’s unbelievable that we haven’t had any of Charles Burton Barber’s paintings on our family website before!

Suspense, 1894

Charles Burton Barber (1845–1894), was a British painter who is mostly known for his portraits of children, particularly girls, and their pets.  Already during his lifetime, Barber was regarded as one of the country’s finest animal painters and received commissions from Queen Victoria to do paintings of her with grandchildren and dogs, as well as of the Prince of Wales, the later Edward VII, and his pets.

There are so many of his paintings that are just too cute, it was quite hard to choose one.  So here is one more, just for the joy of looking at paintings of little girls growing up with dogs.

This painting, titled ‘Girl with Dogs’, is another child and dog painting Barber painted towards the end of his life.


Man’s Best Friend: The Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are one of man’s best friends.

I have recently discovered that I really love chihuahuas! They are cute, adorable,and small!  Here are the facts.

From: Mexico
6 to 9 in (15 to 23 cm)
 4 to 6 lbs (2-3 kg)
Variety of colors, short or long and soft 
At least twice a week
 20 min a day
K-9 Qualities:
Smart and devoted


They are fit to be in almost any home, from a  small apartment in New York City to a big country home.

Chihuahuas are  the ultimate purse puppies.

We have big dogs, and I love big dogs, but a small dog, like a chihuahua would be special.  I love chihuahuas because they are cute, I can carry it around, and they will curl up on your lap while you read.


Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Dog Treats

“Can I have another one, please?”

These dog treats are a bit more chewy than the tuna fudge: good for doggy’s teeth!  They also do not require freezing to keep.  Lastly, they smell better.  🙂

Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Dog Treats


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, possibly a bit more
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Stir all ingredients together in a bowl.  Shape into a dry and stiff dough; add water or more pumpkin as needed to make the dough workable.  It depends on the kind of flour you are using and the size of your eggs if you dough needs additional moisture.
  3. Roll the dough into a 1/2 inch thick log.
  4. Cut unto 1/2 inch thick slices and place on an un-greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until they are hard, approximately 40 minutes.
  6. Store in a tightly closing container, like a mason jar or cookie tin.

IMG_0413 - Edited
“Can I have another one, please?”


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