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“Looty” the purloined Pekingese

Animal statues weren’t the only things boosted from the Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace) by the Anglo-French forces of 1860, an actual pooch was also snatched as part of the war booty.  This diminutive Pekingese, rumored to have been the possession of the Empress Dowager, fell into the hands of a British officer who then arranged for the dog to be presented as a “gift” to Queen Victoria.

The puppy’s new name: “Looty.”

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Perfidious Albion, thy true nature is whimsy.

Harper’s Weekly via the New York Times Archive*, picks up the story:

“He was a very lonely little creature, the other dogs taking exception to his Oriental habits and appearance,** and when the Prince and Princess of Wales returned from the a Continental trip, the latter pleaded with her mother-in-law to be allowed to take Looty to Sandringham.  About six months later Looty’s mate arrived from China, and the breeding of this species of dog became a diversion in fashionable society.”

No word yet on whether a team of Beijing lawyers is going to sue to have all Pekingese dogs repatriated to Beijing, because goodness knows there aren’t enough of the yappy little ankle-nipping poop-machines here already…


* NYT, February 25, 1912, Sunday Section: Society College News Drama Fashion Music, Page X2, 387 words

**Who knew British imperialism was so damn tough…even the DOGS were colonialist bastards.

Photo above right: Looty, taken in 1865.  Apparently a photo (this photo?) still hangs in the palace.

7 Comments on “Looty” the purloined Pekingese

  1. “no dogs, chinese or chinese dogs allowed,” eh?

  2. This is hilarious! I guess it also means that the Pekingese in the UK are even more inbred than your average Pekingese, impossible as that seems.

  3. Great story, and like the original photo.

  4. If only Blake had stuck around long enough to vent his anti-imperialist spleen in an Easterly direction as he did with America – a Prophecy . Might go something like this:

    “Stiff shudderings shook the heav’nly thrones! France Spain & Italy,
    In terror view’d the bands of Albion, and the ancient Guardians
    Fainting upon the elements, smitten with their own plagues

    They slow advance to shut the five gates of their law-built heaven
    Filled with blasting fancies and with mildews of despair
    With fierce disease and lust, unable to stem the fires of Looter;”

    And Blake would be taught in every Chinese school.

  5. Thought you should know: a box advertising “Pekingese breeders” is floating to the right of this post. And, on the opposite side, a very useful advertisement for “Asian Girls for Love & Marriage.”

    Has the Studio made some kind of devil deal with the google boys?

  6. That’s way worse than looting relics. I’d be pissed if someone stole me dog.

  7. I might be wrong about this but I think I read a few months ago that this specific incident is what began the breeding & mania for dog shows that swept England & then the USA in the late nineteenth century. It provided the British middle class with an affordable means to compete with the aristocracy…

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