Saturday, November 10, 2007


My Father, Coburn Allen Buxton, operated a highly regarded and well-known kennel in Dallas, Texas where he raised German Shepherds for many years. He named it Brunonia Kennels to honor Brown University where he attended for two years and where many other Buxtons (including his Father and Uncle) have called their academic home. Indeed, Buxton House still exists on that Providence campus as a testament and memorial of the life of Colonel G. Edward Buxton, Jr. By the way, Brunonia Kennels still remains within the Buxton domain. Dad generated many champions to especially include Susan of Flowdale who was also my literal constant companion as I grew up. Yes, I was a Brown Man Born though am Ole Miss proud.

I was reminded by my Mother (many times and generally in adult mixed company) of that time when at two years of age and within an enclosure inside our fenced front yard, I managed to remove all my clothing and negotiate those boundaries and go on a great summer quest down the searing and bubbly hot asphalt of Meadowbrook Lane in Preston Hollow.

Some horrified and many bemused neighbors tried to approach this beautiful specimen of a tot and rescue him from the elements that I apparently preferred at that point. They couldn’t get within ten feet of this kid as his dog, (yep) Susan of Flowdale shielded the lad and kept all those who would do him harm - away. She was literally by my side as I circumnavigated the cul-de-sac several times and started to wander towards Walnut Hill Lane. At the behest of these concerned neighbors Mother finally came out and retrieved me though I was in good hands/paws.

So what does all that have to do with our world in 2007? Well, I just came across a joke distributed by a large and well regarded Scottish newspaper that goes as follows:

“Lateral Thinking

A school bus, full of primary school kids, was taking them home one day when a fire engine, lights flashing and siren sounding loudly, zoomed past. The kids crowded to the windows and were surprised to see a large Alsatian sitting in the front seat of the fire engine. The children began to discuss what the dog was going to do at the fire. One youngster suggested "They use him to keep crowds back." Another kid said firmly "He's just there for good luck." A third child, who would obviously go far in life due to his ability to think "out of the box" surmised: "They use the dog to find the fire hydrant."

Alsatian did you say? I am reminded by history that Alsatian was a World War One propaganda term for the German Shepherd dog. Well before that, Charlemagne’s empire building was compromised on his death in 841 by his sons who accelerated the controversy over Alsace. Even to “modern times” Alsace was a part of Germany until 1648 when the Treaty of Westphalia gave Alsace to France. Comes along the Franco-Prussian War that saw Germany once again regain Alsace in 1870. Comes along WWI when France annexed Alsace back in 1918. Then, of course, we had that Hitler thing back in 1940-1945 and the ultimate (for now) restoration to France of the Alsace region.

In the wake of WWI anti-German sentiment was still very high and prompted many to literally change German-oriented names. That included the English Kennel Club who in 1919 gave the German Shepherd a separate register, the Alsatian, a name that is apparently still used throughout the UK. The breed became known as the Alsatian Wolf Dog (Gads!). It wasn’t until 1977 that this tag was dropped by the British Kennel Club though the animal had long been known in the USA, Australia and most other countries as the German Shepherd dog. I never heard Dad call them by any other name and that dates from the very early 1950’s.

So here we are in the 21st century and we see the remnants of WWI propaganda still being used in our world the least of which is the example we cite here. Lest some think this an old joke resurrected for our contemporary enjoyment, we need note use of the terms “think out of the box” and “lateral thinking”, were certainly not used until very recent times.

Maybe this is one of those terms that used to excess has lost its meaning and now has become the norm - though I take offense with its use given its original intent. As the inheritor of Mowgli, Romulus and Remus, I would think that Susan of Flowdale (May she rest in peace) was much too sensitive and wouldn’t like to be known as an Alsatian Wolf Dog.

Rah, Rah, Brunonia, BROWN, BROWN, BROWN.


Ned Buxton

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I seldom leave comments on blog, but I have been to this post which was recommend by my friend, lots of valuable details, thanks again.