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.