Her Royal Lizness has always been pretty prim and private. But when it comes to her dog obsession, she’s relatively loud and proud. Her pack accompanies her nearly everywhere; it’s been reported that she takes her breakfast with them each morning (they on the floor, she at the table…one would hope) and that she keeps miniature dog figurines in her purse as good luck charms. Several of her biographers have noted that injustices involving poor treatment of her dogs result in much more emotion from her than any matter of national importance. Biographer Ben Pimlot quotes a royal insider as saying, “She has a temper…throwing a book on the floor, that kind of thing. She might ring up and say something like, ‘Oh, the stupid vet didn’t completely get the thorn out of the dog’s foot!’ But if you told her the Japanese had invaded Cornwall, she’d just say, ‘I must let the Lord Lieutenant know.’”
Even before she took the throne sixty years ago, the Queen’s breed of choice was the Welsh Corgi (and the so-called Dorgie, a breed name she coined–a cross between a Corgi and a Dachshund). The Corgi was at its height of popularity when Elizabeth was in her teens. Her father George VI, bought one called Dookie, and shortly after that got Jane, who had puppies: Crackers and Carol. He gifted Princess Elizabeth her first Corgi, Susan, as an eighteenth birthday present in 1944. Elizabeth became queen, and Susan became a matriarch in her own right: Elizabeth has owned ten generations of her descendants, some of whom (Monty, Willow and Holly) are still occupying Windsor Castle.
But the Royal Mum isn’t just a dog owner: She’s apparently a gifted dog trainer. The Daily Mail reports that she is wise to how to effectively use positive reinforcement training to get her brood to follow her rulings.
Her reinforcement of choice? A healthy treat that I often recommend my clients use: carrots.
Her number one horse trainer, Monty Roberts, tells the Mail:
“If we’re having a meeting about the horses and the dogs come in, she can just talk to them and they do whatever she wants.
“She can tell one to go out, one to come in, all go out, all come in. Philip’s good with them too. They really have a special affinity with animals.
“I sometimes help with the corgis but, let me tell you, she can do phenomenal things with those dogs.“When she comes in from a ride, they line up for her in the Royal Mews and she feeds them carrots. They actually line up, even though some of them belong to other people – they’re not all hers.“I said, ‘Your Majesty, you must be soaking them in bacon grease – dogs don’t eat carrots.’And she said, “Watch this,” and then she names them, Fred, Joe whatever.
“And they line up, bam, bam, bam, bam, and she says, ‘Now, don’t be rude now. Are you ready?’ Then she feeds them in a line. One day, it might be four or six – one day my wife Pat saw ten.”
While the Queen may have passed down her love of dogs to her children, her progeny seem not to have inherited her effortless control over pets: In 2003, one of Princess Anne’s bull terriers bit a maid and fatally mauled one of the Queen’s corgis. The previous year, the Princess was brought to court and fined when her dogs attacked two children in Windsor Great Park.
The Princess might want to invest in some carrots.