Social Butterfly

By Amy Small
I. J. Samson Junior High
St. John's, Newfoundland

If you think beauty and brains are mutually exclusive, you'll find a surprise in the Papillion.

  This petite, glamorous little dog is as smart as they come. Anyone who looks in this sweet creature's eyes will fall in love. The Papillion—French for butterfly—gets its name from its large, well-fringed ears which resemble the shape of butterfly wings. They are tiny dogs---only about 15 inches tall—which average around five pounds. The only recognized Papillion markings are parti color and white with black or brown markings on the ears, tops of head and around the eyes. Paps' are highly versatile dogs with a lifespan of 13 to 16 years.

I have a Pap of my own named Lyka. However, when my friends meet her, she's often called "rat." Once they get to know her, they always change their minds. She greets them with her tail wagging as fast as it can and a toy or cookie in her mouth. This she drops by the person's feet as a present for coming to visit her. Her other quirks include whining and howling every morning until she gets her morning toast and making up a new game with her toys every day.

Even though Papillons aren't very well known in the modern day world—they rank as the 52nd most popular breed—history knows them very well. Marie Antoinette was devoted to her two paps, and it's said she took one of them with her to the guillotine, handing it to the executioner just before she was beheaded. King Henry the third, who ruled France from 1560 to 1574,
supposedly appeared before his council of state wearing a basket filled with Papillons around his neck and always slept with a Papillon named Lilene. Lilene is said to have reacted with such extreme violence toward a visiting monk that the king finally shut her away. After the monk stabbed the king, Henry is said to have gasped, "If only I had heeded Lilene's warning."

Naturally assertive, Papillons make good watchdogs despite their small size. However, with people they know you could never find a more friendly and loyal dog. Papillons are fairly confident they're more human than dog. Their intelligence is absolutely exceptional and so is their devotion to people. They're the fourth smartest breed in the world. Because Papillons are intelligent, they require a lot of interaction, attention and a relationship with their humans. Each one is like a little person, and most are abnormally kind, sweet, caring and loving. For the owner ready to give it all, no dog could be more rewarding.