Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day

It wasn't Susan Boyle, the Queen or Rod Stewart's metallic suit. The real star of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday was the Scottie dog. A total of 41 Scottish Highland terriers were brought in to introduce each of the 71 participating nations in the athletes' parade (some of them had to work a double shift). Social media promptly went wild for the tartan coat-sporting creatures, with many claiming them to be the highlight of Celtic Park.

"I felt very proud; didn't they look lovely?" says a delighted Til Tovey, secretary of the Scottish Terrier Club. "In the Forties and Fifties, they used to be on every street corner, but we don't see that many of them now, so it was a lovely platform for the breed."

Archie Clegg was one of the Scottie dogs who participated, responsible for leading on both the Bangladesh and Trinidad and Tobago teams. To win his starring role in the show, three-and-a-half-year-old Archie had to travel from Ringwood, Hampshire, to Glasgow in May to audition. He then had to attend four rehearsals over the last week before he was ready to take to the floor. So how well behaved were the dogs?

"Terriers are renowned for being terriers," says a laughing Jim Clegg, Archie's owner, and a trustee for the Scottish Terrier Emergency Care Scheme. "But basically 90 per cent of the time they all got on with each other. You learnt quickly which dogs you needed to steer clear of, so it all went smoothly in the end. Archie's a massive show-off so he was enjoying himself."

Paws for thought: A Scottish terrier struts its stuff for Malta at a ceremony Paws for thought: A Scottish terrier struts its stuff for Malta at a ceremony (AP)
Scotties are one of five breeds of terriers that originated in Scotland, but it wasn't until the late 19th century that one of the breeds began to be identified as a Scottish Highland terrier. They have been documented as far back as the 15th century, however, when they were working dogs used to hunt vermin in fields and farms.

Read more: Auld Enemy light up first day as Glasgow Games ignite
Sir Bradley Wiggins and England win silver as Australia triumph
Clarke aims for gold after swapping training tips with All Blacks
MoD refuses request to let Red Arrows use Scottish colours
Chris Hoy asked for ID as he tries to enter Chris Hoy velodrome
Stimpson clinches first gold for England in women's triathlon
Barrowman gay kiss was scripted, Games CEO confirms

These days, most of us only ever come into contact with a Scottie dog during a game of Monopoly. Introduced in the Fifties, the piece recently came top of a poll to find the nation's favourite player token (spare a thought for the iron, whose unpopularity in same poll saw it promptly retired and replaced by a cat).

But there was a time when Scotties were the "it" dog to be seen with; the Chihuahuas or Labradoodles of their day, if you will. In the first half of the century, they could be seen accompanying glamorous Hollywood stars such as Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford to film sets.

The statue of Roosevelt and his Scottie Fala The statue of Roosevelt and his Scottie Fala (Getty Images)
They also make quite the Presidential sidekick, with Scotties running around the White House lawn during the office times of Eisenhower, Reagan, and George W Bush. Franklin D. Roosevelt so adored his Scottie, Fala, that a statue of the terrier sits beside one of the former President at his memorial in Washington, the only pet to be honoured in such a way.

So, what is it that makes Scottish Highland terriers such an appealing pet?

"They're very loyal and they're very bold," says Tovey, who owns two terriers. "They won't start a fight, but if anything sets on them they're not cowards. They're stubborn as well and have a mind of their own. You can be at the top of the garden and call them in and they'll turn around and look at you as if to say, 'when I'm ready'. They're very independent." And for any viewers of the ceremony who were confused by the different canine colourways, Tovet explains that while "there are different colours. A lot of people think they're only black, but they also come in wheaten and brindle".

Not since Jock in Lady and the Tramp has a Scottie appeared on the big screen. But with the world reminded of their charm this week, perhaps the Scottie will become top dog once again.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album