Different dogs were originally bred for different purposes.
The Beagle was bred to hunt hares. The Border Collie was bred to herd sheep. The Husky was bred to pull sleds. The Chihuahua was bred to snap at ankles. The Dalmatian was bred to make other dogs look clever. The Rottweiler was bred to make strangers get out of the way. The Bichon Frise was bred to make rich people look daft. The Xoloitzcuintle was bred to be unpronounceable.
And the Jack Russell was bred to cause havoc.
I wonder if the Prime Minister’s fiancee Carrie Symonds was aware of this when her eyes first settled upon a little Jack Russell, back in September 2019.
Dilyn came with a back-story to touch the coldest of hearts. Born with a misaligned jaw, he was due to be put down until he was rescued by a Welsh animal charity. Either from a sense of idealism, or irony, or shrewd marketing, the charity gave him the name of ‘Dilyn’, which is Welsh for ‘follow’.
The Jack Russell was bred to cause havoc. I wonder if the Prime Minister’s fiancee Carrie Symonds was aware of this when her eyes first settled upon a little Jack Russell, back in September 2019
Ms Symonds was immediately drawn to him. At the age of just 15 weeks, with few prospects, Dilyn found himself scooped up from his foster home in the Rhondda and chauffeured home to 10, Downing Street.
Having come from nowhere, he soon became the most celebrated dog in Great Britain. During his first few days in Downing Street, he was only ever pictured in the arms of Ms Symonds or the Prime Minister, leading suspicious types to wonder if he was either unable to walk or simply couldn’t be bothered.
Like most Jack Russells, Dilyn was strong-willed and he had soon dragooned the Prime Minister into acting as his personal public relations officer. In a newspaper interview, the Prime Minister made it clear that Dilyn went for a walk in the Downing Street garden at dawn every day, accompanied by his master wearing boxer shorts.
Why boxer shorts? What had happened to the Prime Minister’s trousers? Had Dilyn chewed them overnight, or hidden them, or —worse — relieved himself upon them? We were never told.
Dilyn’s fame grew and grew. In early December 2019, after barely three months in Downing Street, Boris’s next-door neighbour Sajid Javid revealed to The Sun that his own dog, Bailey, had experienced wholly inappropriate advances from Dilyn. Bailey is, incidentally, a Cavapoo, a cross between a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a Poodle, a type of dog bred to make neighbours appear chaotic.
On election day later that month, Dilyn allowed Boris Johnson to pose alongside him for photographs that were printed all over the world.
Throughout 2020, Dilyn successfully developed and refined a foolproof ‘divide and rule’ strategy to reinforce his hold on Downing Street. As top aides and advisers came and went, Dilyn just sat there, wagging his tail.
Now, stories are emerging that Dilyn has been getting his teeth into valuable old books and antique furniture at the Prime Minister’s country residence, Chequers. ‘Dilyn is not popular with staff at Chequers,’ revealed a government source. ‘He causes havoc, gnawing at the furniture and soiling the carpets.’ And Dilyn clearly still pines for the standoffish Bailey.
Throughout 2020, Dilyn successfully developed and refined a foolproof ‘divide and rule’ strategy to reinforce his hold on Downing Street
One visitor even claims to have spotted Dilyn mounting a stool made from the foot of an elephant shot by the U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt. Dilyn’s PR team would no doubt argue that anyone could have made the same mistake, but it certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Furthermore, others are suggesting that Dilyn urinated over — perhaps even into — a handbag left on the floor by the former No 10 aide Katie Lam. And he was further criticised during a high-powered meeting on Foreign Affairs, when his only contribution to the discussion was to leave a mess in the centre of the room.
What is to become of Dilyn? Rumour has it that Boris Johnson was recently heard to mutter ‘Shoot that dog!’ after Dilyn made a dog’s dinner of an antiquarian book. But in any Jack Russell vs Man fight, the man is bound to lose.
My own experience of Jack Russells is that they are uniquely resilient. Over the years I have known human beings who attempted to stand up to them, and they are now shadows of their former selves.
In ten years’ time, Dilyn will be popping up on Strictly Come Dancing and I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!, while his poor, shattered owners will be shuffling around like ghosts, wondering what hit them.