S: The life and times of Annie Cameron - A dog's story
BC: Keepsake Books www.keepsake-books.net | R.I.P. Annie, who passed away of ovarian cancer one month after this book was published. Her BFF Maggie (Mad Dog) Gibson passed away three months later. They will be missed.
FC: The life and times of Annie Cameron | A dog's story | as told to Marion Finlay
1: I was born in 2003 in Ontario, Canada. At least I think that's when I was born. My life before I was adopted by Larry and Shirley Cameron at the age of five is a bit of a blur. By then I had given birth to five litters of puppies, which was very exhausting. Perhaps I have 'canine stress disorder' caused by the breeders' bad behaviour. They were not very nice, treating me like a one-dog puppy mill. To secure my release from captivity and constant pregnancy, Larry and Shirley paid large sums of money to "The Sharks" (as I heard them call the breeders). I hope the fish didn't bite them. | My early years | Above: Shaking my paw with gratitude - assisted by Shirley - after being rescued from the horrible breeders. | Right: Me as a young pup getting dressed in my winter woolies.
2: My ancestors originally came from Poltalloch, which is in the Scottish West Highlands. We used to be known as Poltalloch Terriers until the early 20th century, when our family name was changed to West Highland Terrier or Westie. | My ancestry | Above: A late 19th century photo of the first West Highland Terrier, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Sir Jock Westie. He was a proud dog (and careful with his money). | Here's a portrait of me taken just after my adoption. Can you see the family resemblance?
3: More background... | Westies were developed in the late 1880s to hunt vermin in Scotland's rugged, high mountains, which may explain why I growl with a Scottish accent (I roll my rrrrrs) at rat-faced squirrels who invade my property. The West Highland Terrier is now one of the most popular breeds in both the U.K. and North America. (although my BFF Maggie disagrees, but then she's a poodle so enough said). | As for my personal appearance, I’ve been described as a tiny platinum blond bombshell. My eyes are almond-shaped, deep-set and dark brown set off by shapely triangular pink ears. My legs may be on the short side, but I make up for it by being beautifully well-proportioned.
4: My model family | Despite my good looks, I've never worked as a model because I prefer the outdoor life in Huntsville. But for over a century, many of my city relatives have starred in advertising campaigns. In fact we - the white West Highland Terrier and the black Scots Terrier - have become one of the most famous trademarks in the world, helping to sell Black & White whisky since the early 20th century.
5: My model relatives over the years | Clockwise from top left: Relatives helping the war effort in a 1942 ad; an 1948 ad confirming that I'm very attractive; a Christmas ad from 1951; a campaign from 1938 linking Black & White whisky with my excellent character.
6: Daddy | Dad excelled at sports like tennis and curling. Here he is explaining the difference between keen and heavy ice (curling terms) to my pal Maggie. | This is me and my Dad Larry. I loved sitting in his lap and listening to his words of wisdom. He was a great teacher. When he passed away two years ago, I howled for weeks.
7: Mommy | Sometimes when we're with strangers, Mommy pretends she's blind and can't find me. Makes us both laugh. | Don't let this picture of my Mom Shirley looking sweet fool you. She's actually quite the bossy pants.
8: Me and my BFF Maggie | Above: Mommy chatting to my friend Maggie, while me and her Mom Ginny debate dog treats. | My best friend Maggie is a poodle who's even tinier than me. Though getting on in years, she's a great girl. But I don't like it when we stand next to each other because she makes my bum look big. We like hanging out together though don't do much. It's one of those quiet, comfortable relationships. | Above: Me and Maggie playing hide-and-seek with her Mom Ginny.
9: Me and mommy's BFF Ginny | Left: I like it when my Mom's friend Ginny plays with me on the floor. It was fun going to her house 'cause I could swim in the lake or just chill with Maggie. | Right: Occasionally I like to escape from the daily grind of eating and sleeping. Here I am trying to get under the neighbour's fence. .
10: My brothers give great advice, especially about boys. They say that I shouldn't trust them, especially strays, mongrels and hound dogs. | Tom is a wonderful lad who used to have a Westie. I like when he gets down to my level. | Brothers | Joe and I love making faces. A popular pose of ours is the "pursing our lips while looking fierce".
11: Love life | As mentioned, by the time I was five, I had given birth to five litters of pups, which might suggest I'm a promiscuous bitch. But the breeders were to blame. They forced me into puppy prostitution. Ever since Larry and Shirley rescued me I've been a good girl. Below: two of my (platonic) boyfriends, another Westie called Doogie (left) and a Scots Terrier called McDuff (right with me in the middle). There was lots of flirting and sniffing, but I didn't let them get their wicked way. Thanks for your advice guys!
12: A typical day | Right: "Princess" Annie reclining on her lounger. | Left: Celebrating my Scots ancestry by wearing a tartan collar while barking along to tunes from Brigadoon (Daddy and I loved the musical). | Left: I've been naughty and tried to hide. Unfortunately I got my head stuck in the furniture. How embarrassing.
13: My world view | Being of short stature - or tiny and perfectly formed - I spend most of my time staring at feet. I've become quite the expert on socks and shoes.
14: Tennis | My most favourite thing in the whole world is tennis. Larry and Shirley were tennis pros and they taught me how to play. I wasn't great at wielding a racket but I made an excellent ball girl. Below: One of my many tennis outfits (I like to dress appropriately) with Ginny and my fearsome coach, the poodle Maggie "Mad Dog" Gibson.
15: Swimming | My second most absolutely favourite thing in the whole world is swimming. I'm a brilliant doggy paddler. Below: Me with Mommy's friend Ginny in her yard. See how she has to hold me tight to stop me from jumping in with the ducks.
16: Wheels | I love cars. Zooming around Huntsville in my bright red motorcar is my next favourite thing after tennis and swimming. My chauffeur Shirley doesn't go fast enough for my liking. But she's great at avoiding chipmunks and making emergency stops. If only she'd open up the throttle...
17: Guard dog | Shirley employs me as a guard dog. I watch for intruders and bark at anyone who comes too close. I also make regular inspections to ensure that nobody climbs the railings in front of our house. Don't tell Shirley, but sometimes the beauty of the sun setting over the lake overwhelms me, and I relax my guard.
18: Leaves | Leaves fascinate me. You never know where they'll fall. So I wait. And watch. Sometimes they get really close, and other times they don't. Awesome.
19: Final thoughts | I've been through a lot in my nine years: being pregnant, giving birth, and adoption. Now I have ovarian cancer linked, most probably, to over breeding by my original owners, "The Sharks". But life as Annie Cameron has been joyous: exciting car rides; splashing in the lake; playing with tennis balls, leaves, friends and relatives; and the pleasure of lots of hugs from my Dad Larry and Mom Shirley. Looking back, it's been a laugh. I'm a very, very happy puppy.