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Saving the Skye

The historic Skye terrier breed is in grave danger of dying out within the next decade, yet there is a light at the end of this doggy tunnel. Seven female Skye puppies were recently born at the home of breeders Jenny and Kirsty Miller of Hertfordshire.

This is a rare stroke of good fortune as in 2005 only 30 Skyes were born, compared to a birth rate of 45,000 Labradors for example. Naturally the Millers hope these important puppies will find good homes and will be bred to preserve the breed.

Paul Keevil of the Kennel Club’s vulnerable breeds committee rejoiced to hear of these new Skye births but is desperate to find more people willing to have litters of Skyes.

The fickle public now tends to follow the gimmicks of fashion, rather than the great stories of history. Foreign designer dogs like Shih Tzus - as chosen by celebrity ex-Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell - have taken centre stage.

The Skye, however has been around for much longer. These terriers were first bred on Skye in the Inner Hebrides in the 15th Century! They became a favourite breed with royalty due to their looks and devotion to their owners. Mary, Queen of Scots famously owned one which did not even desert her at her execution.

As poor Mary placed her head on the block her little Skye terrier crept under her voluminous skirts to try and comfort her as she was beheaded. Later he pined away after her death.

Another famous Skye was Greyfriars Bobby, who mourned his master for 14 long years. John Gray was a beggar in Edinburgh whose only friend was Bobby his dog. He died in 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars famous churchyard.

Many efforts were made by well-wishers to find a new good home for faithful Bobby but he always returned to his dead master’s grave. Bobby survived on food people left for him until he also died in 1872.

This true story was turned into a novel in 1912 and this year Disney released a film version.
Skye Terriers are famed for their long bodies and coats. They only reach 10 inches in height but many grow to 40 inches in length so are perfect hunting dogs to clear their way through gorse and leather.

These magnificent seven new puppies may well revive the Skye’s status.