"Oh! John, look at that darling dog in ring 5! It looks almost human with those eyes and whiskers. What do you suppose it is?"
"That's a Brussels," replied a ringside spectator.
"A Brussels, a little terrier-like toy!" added the bystander.
"Well, that Brussels is the most unusual dog I've ever seen. I just have to talk to that lady about her dog."
Waiting until breed competition finished, the observer approached the excited exhibitor who clutched winning ribbons in one hand as she held a dog tucked under her other arm.
"I just wanted to tell you how much I love your little Brussels," bubbled the new fancier as she reached out to touch the squirming toy.
"You love my what?" asked the distracted exhibitor.
"Your Brussels - what an unusual dog!"
"My what?" repeated the exhibitor now giving her full attention to the woman petting her dog.
"Brussels is a city in Belgium. It is also part of the name of a vegetable tasting like cabbage. But it is not the name of the breed I show. This is a Brussels Griffon."
"I'm sorry," replied the newcomer somewhat taken back, "I don't know the names of all these breeds. I just wanted to tell you how much I liked your Griffin."
"A Griffin is a mythical beast having the head and wings of an eagle and the body and hindquarters of a lion,' lectured the exhibitor with a slight edge to her voice. "This is a Brussels Grif-fon with an accent on the last syllable."
The woman took her hand from the dog and fell silent for a second.
"I didn't mean to offend you. I just wanted to compliment you on that dog."
Only at that moment did the exhibitor realize how ill-mannered she had been. She reached out to touch the woman's arm as she made her apology.
"No, I'm afraid I have offended you and I hope you can accept my apology for being so rude to someone who is meeting for the first time the breed I love. There is little for me to say in my defense except you really hit on my number ONE pet peeve. You are about the fifteenth person to stop me today to talk about my 'Brussels." How that grates on my ears! Please help me get off this soap box so we can talk about Griffons."
This gracious lady laughed and acknowledged the regrets.
"It seems logical when the breed is called the Brussels Griffon to shorten it to the Brussels doesn't it?"
"Yes, but you must understand in the land of origin - Belgium - this breed developed as the Griffon Bruxellois referring to the reds, the Griffon Belge which took in the other colors such as black, and the smooths were first called the Griffon Brabançon. The name has been anglicized to Brussels Griffon but even the English Club honours the original name by calling itself the Griffon Bruxellois Club.
"So Griffon as a nickname comes from the breed's history and tradition rather than the English version of the breed name."
"Yes, and the fact that early breed writers like Mrs. Handley Spicer, Mrs. Parker Rhodes and later Marjorie Cousens always used the term "Griffon" in reference to the breed, NEVER BRUSSELS!"
"History and tradition seem important to you."
"After fifteen years in this breed they do have value. I am afraid this traditional name for the breed will disappear if we aren't careful."
"You can count on me. This breed will never be a Brussels to me again. Do you have time for a cup of coffee? There are so many othere questions to ask."
"Sure, but only if you let me buy."
And how about you, fellow Griffon fanciers, do you feel strongly enough about Brussels Griffon history to defend the term "Griffon" as the by-name for our breed? The future of this tradition is in your hands.
@With permission from the author Denise Brusseau-Ortman.
First published in Brussels Sprouts, June 1987. Do not reprint.