He Gets No Respect

The noble Malt wearing the ignoble Cone of Shame.

The noble Malt wearing the ignoble Cone of Shame.

Our favorite Malt has been complaining of late that he does not receive the respect to which he believes he is entitled by the accident of his birth. The problem is that he has been condemned to a short stint in the Cone of Shame due to excessive ear scratching which led to a small infection. He will be fine but hates being the center of comic attention as he walks around bumping into everything in the condo.

But what about this issue of Malts deserving respect? Perhaps we should look back into Malt history.

It was none other than Charles “Chuck” Darwin, who said that Maltese originated about 600 BC thus qualifying the fluff-butts as one of earth’ s oldest holders of Canidea status. But even Chuck could never settle on just one name for the beast.

At one time or another, the Maltese has been called the Maltese Terrier, the Lion Dog of Malta, Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta, Melitaire Dog, the Roman Ladies’ Dog, the Spanish Gentle. The Shock Dog and The Comforter.

The Elizabethans couldn't tell one of these from the other.

The Elizabethans couldn’t tell one of these from the other. So they called both “Comforters.”

All these names hint at the breed’s long history traipsing around the ancient trade routes of the Mediterranean. The names “Maltese” and “Melitaire” suggest that the pup hails from the island of Malta. Aristotle said that the breed was living there during his time (384-322BC).

But Ari could have been wrong. There is good evidence that the Maltese is not really an islander at all but rather a dog of the mountains that started out in Switzerland. Other evidence points to Egyptian origins or perhaps Phoenician.

Maltese dogs appear in art and literature as early as the fourth century B.C. They were treasured by both Greeks and Romans of old and kept at the courts of Turkey and China. A Maltese appears as a symbol of fidelity in one of the renowned fifteenth-century Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

Notice the Malt on the tapestry. It's a symbol of fidelity or perpetual appetite, one or the other.

Notice the Malt on the table in the tapestry. It’s a symbol of fidelity or perpetual appetite, one or the other.

In Elizabethan times, the Malts were called “Comforters” in the belief that they could relieve pain and cure illness simply by snuggling under the bedclothes next to the sufferer.

And if the dogs didn’t really have a medicinal effect, there’s no doubt that having a fluffy and sympathetic bedmate to warm your toes or provide a consoling lick on the hand when you’re not feeling well can’t hurt.

The “Shock Dog” appellation does not relate to the reaction of owners when presented with the grooming bill, but for their “shock” of long hair. Buying a Malt in the early 1600s would also be a shock – they sold for a five-figure equivalent price.

Mary Sturat was a Maltese fancier and see where that got her.

Mary Sturat was a Maltese fancier and see where that got her.

Rival queens Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, both owned representatives of this breed, and it was one of her Maltese that accompanied Mary to the axeman’s block, hiding under her skirts until after she was beheaded. The faithful pet, its white coat now drenched in its mistress’s blood, was finally rescued by one of the executioners.

Happily, it was spared the Queen’s gruesome fate and (after a bath) lived out its life with a French princess where no doubt it enjoyed a tastier diet and then pooped on the sidewalk like every other French dog in existence. But I digress.

In the 19th century small Maltese were all the rage and bred to be the size of a squirrel. The tiny doglets spent much of their time burrowed in the billowy sleeves and ample, heaving bosoms of their mistresses’ clothes.

The breed continued to draw admirers near and far, especially among the glitterati of the time. Queen Victoria (of cruise liner fame) wrote a letter of condolence to the Duchess of Kent upon the passing of the duchess’s Maltese, Lambkin, indicating the high esteem with which this dog was regarded by its royal acquaintances.

In 1877 the Maltese made its debutante appearance at the Westminster Dog Show. Its popularity as a “trophy dog” in the 19th century helped promote similar breeds such as the Bichon Frise.

Maltese are still celebrity dogs whose owners include folks as diverse as Lindsey Lohan whose dog is named Chloe and Britney Spears who calls her fuzzbutt “Malt Liquor.” Oh wait, there’s no diversity there at all and Brit’s dog is not really named Malt Liquor either, but her fuzzbutt is.

Britney, Lindsey and Leona...celebrity Maltese owners. Poor dogs. Poor, poor dogs.

Britney, Lindsey and Leona…celebrity Maltese owners. Poor dogs. Poor, poor dogs.

Eva Longoria has a famous Maltese named Jinxie. Elizabeth Taylor had a Maltese named Sugar. Heather Locklear has a Malt named Harley and Halle Berry has 2 Malts: Straw Berry and Blue Berry. Nope, lieing again, their names really are Willy and Polly but I like my version better.

Other well known owners of the little white dog are/were Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Lee Remick, Kristin Chenoweth, Mia Farrow and Star Jones.

Leona Helmsley’s (The Queen of Mean) Maltese dog named Trouble, was left a $12 million dollar trust fund. Her will declared that the dog was to be buried alongside her and her late husband in a mausoleum. Leona also left $3 million for the continuous care of that mausoleum. A judge later overturned this, and the dog was given only $2 million dollars. They say late at night at the mausoleum you can hear her dead husband still crying over Leona’s financial decisions.

We don’t pay much attention to our favorite Malt’s noble lineage. He’s only as good as his latest tricks. Speaking of which, here is a short video of Max doing a few tricks. The (cough) “film” was produced and directed by the AJF who is normally computer-averse. She is inordinately proud of this epic and I’m smart enough to keep my trap shut.

36 replies

  1. We send Max our condolences. Bilbo has been scratching himself a lot lately too and I’m about to head off and buy some Malaseb and cortisone cream. See if they do the trick. Doing the buying, however, is the easy part.Bilbo didn’t respond well to the last home bath well and I am tempted to get the dog washer back again if she’s game. At least,there’s less fur this time.
    I loved the little video of Max and the kids will love it and I can see Amelia trying to teach Lady to beg and spin. By the way, she asked about Max’s wardrobe the other day.
    I wonder how Max will fare online with his new look. Perhaps, his many girlfriends around the world will smother him with love and kindness feeling sorry for the poor lad and he’ll get all the attention and glory of his dreams.
    xx Rowena
    PS I didn’t have the heart to tell Lady that Max has other “friends”!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Lady is Max’s #1 Australia love it’s just that he is worse than a sailor in a new port. But, truth to tell, the lady dogs have pretty much assigned him to “The Friend Zone”. Currently his passion is my foot which he has been attacking with a lot of zeal, fortunately not in public. Tonight was (again) bath night as we try to alleviate the Malt’s itchiness. Once it gets started it’s hard to mitigate but if we can stay ahead of the itchies he is a happier dog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My sympathies to Max with the skin issues. Bilbo is having terrible troubles. Lady brought fleas into our house, which he’s never really had before. Not to this extent. our first step was to get the fur off to assess the extent of the problem and it seems he has a skin rash so washed him in Malaseb and flea shampoo today and discovered Wandering Jew growing in our backyard which can cause dogs terrible skin rashes so and trying to get that up. Our dog groomer recommended cortisone cream and Savlon to treat his skin without paying for more expensive creams from the Vet so I’ll give all this a go and hope it all works.
        Despite his skin troubles, Bilbo has been a new dog since his clip. So much more energetic. It’s been wonderful! Good luck with Max an I hope the bucket goes soon xx Ro

        Liked by 1 person

  2. After seeing Max with his new collar, she’s wondering what happened to the diamond collar he picked up on his latest World Cruise. She was very impressed with his tales of luxurious travel and the champagne lifestyle and she was just starting to think about packing her bag to go live the high life when she saw the latest photo. I tried talking to her about looking beyond the surface to the real dog inside but she’s a real gold digger.
    She’s also wondering about the male dogs in her life. Her real life companion Bilbo has a bad case of the itches and is very close to getting a cone around his head and then he online love as well. Humph. She’s now thinking War & Peace is looking like a good alternative. xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hold on a minute. There was a report of Lady bringing ,,,FLEAS!… into the house and transferring them to friend Bilbo. Max would like it known he does not do fleas at all. Fleas are strictly verboten. Until the flea issue is resolved there will be no talk of sharing the Swarovski collar. Nope, not going to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We do foster and rescue for Westies who are notorious for their skin problems. You did the right thing to nip Max’s issues in the bud before it led to truly awful conditions. I’ve seen some Westies who have itched themselves into a bloody state, then get infections, then itch more, oh, it’s just awful.
    Back a million years ago, when I was scared of dogs, it was a darling little Maltese that a salesman brought into the office who led me to the realization that not all dogs were vicious man-eaters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, some Maltese are vicious women-eaters too. Just kidding – as a breed they are remarkably even tempered which is surprising since there so often is a relationship between lack of physical size and the size of the dog ego. Whether by DNA, accident or nurture Max is the most mild, gentle dog I have ever known.


  4. Poor Max, having to wear the lampshade…I just bet you are getting some dirty looks – especially if he catches you laughing. Do you have to take him out after dark to avoid him losing face when meeting his friends?

    The video says private…so the mind boggles as to the content thereof…

    I always wondered what happened the Mary Queen of Scots little dog. Thank you for clearing that up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also can’t see the video of the noble dog – the status is private. Is viewing by invitation only? I also suffer from itchy ear infections, but mine is caused by water in the ear; a common problem in the Maltese species (thoroughbred and crossbred) according to our vet. That’s the reason why I had to learn to swim with my head above the waterline all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alas, the potentially adorable vid is private and unviewable. Sam is crestfallen he can’t see his Hawaiian friend but grateful at all the fascinating facts on Malts. I had no idea about the extent of the breed though knew it was quite old. A grade school chum had one that I adored. She was charming, adorably and soft as a powder puff. Sadly I grew up to enjoy ‘malts’ of different variety though following the adventures of Max might make me realize enjoying and respecting a couple of Malts (different as they may be) might be equally good for the soul. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mercy, you’ve got comments out the wazoo. Max clearly has more talent than the aforementioned LIndsay and Britney, with perhaps the exception of begging. Leave it to you to make Leona look like the pretty one. And you almost got me with Malt Liquor. My brain had already thought, “You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can’t…” and then you said you had been a dirty liar. I do like that Max does not have that rusty crud at the mouth like many white dogs. It is not dignified and betrays such a fine lineage. In face, as a comforter and one who stays near his master during beheadings, I should think Chevy would come out with the new 2015 Chevy Melitaire. Perhaps it would come with a doggie carrier or a treat stash between seats?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The new Chevy Comforter could be a good brand addition, too. I liked the name “Ye Ancient Doggie of Malta” because it sounds like one of the pretentious stores that sells frou frou stuff under a sign saying “Shoppe.” I doubt Britney ever shops in a Shoppe but, who knows? My fear is that in my next life I will re-incarnate as one of these celebrity’s dog.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Of course the maltese was on the table in the tapestry. Tex is on the table in the boat every time we open the hatch and look in — sometimes even when we’re still sitting in the boat, and he just forgets we’re there.

    Those tricks are pretty impressive. Tex has zero tricks unless you count chasing ducks — although I have no idea what he would do if the ducks finally decided to stand their ground!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not visible on camera was a big dog chew being held as reward if Max did his tricks. He’s a money player and without the food would have ignored our existence. And I crack up at stories of “Big Tex” (fyi to other readers, he’s is a Malt about half the size of “Big Max”.)

      By the way people…if you want to see something creepy, and I say this in the nicest way, go on over to Fred & Mary’s blog at:
      and check out the post “Do you need more eyes on your blog?”. That darn thing has been giving me the heebie-jeebies.


  9. I love the video. Maxwell looks like my Maltese, but mine won’t listen to any commands. I enjoyed reading about the origin of the breed or what is known about it. I like the phrase “The Comforter.” He does comfort me. He is my best friend.

    Liked by 1 person

All comments are welcome, so speak! Speak! Good dog.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.