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The Cairn Terrier; Small dog - Big Character!

What makes our pets & animals so special?

So far in this series considering what makes our pets and animals so special; I've shared my love for my elderly Black Labrador Coco; Inge Deane has spoken movingly about the impact that her Yellow Labrador Tammy has had on her life and now Lorraine Craig shares memories of her Cairn Terrier, Fella. Once again, It's clear from Lorraine's piece just how much our pets become a key part of our daily routine - and therefore - a key part of our lives. I hope you enjoy and if you are Cairn Terrier owner - I hope it strikes a chord.

If you would like to contribute to this series then please do drop me an email at or a message on Instagram (@mtsportraits) or on my Facebook Page (MTS Portraits) - I'd love to hear from you ad share the love for our wonderful pets and the animal kingdom. For now though, over to Lorraine...

Fella the Cairn Terrier was my first puppy. On the day we went to see the litter of puppies, he burst into the room and most definitely chose us. The other puppies were cute, but they hardly got a look in. There was no way Fella was letting us go without him, and he made his feelings known by pulling at the tassels on my shoes (it was the 80s don't judge). Pick me, pick me - there was no competition.

Fella posing for a photoshoot back in the 80's

Cairn Terriers are little dogs with a big personality. They're intelligent, often stubborn, and very playful. I was love struck. I took him to puppy training classes but he made little progress, more interested in sniffing other dogs or sizing them up so they'd know who was the boss. One week in class he was very distracted and kept pulling to the side, always back to the same spot as we walked around to heel. I later found his tooth had fallen out and he was anxious to be reunited with it.

My memory is hazy but we stayed at training classes for years, eventually leaving with an award in a category I didn't recognise or understand. I ran home to get to a dictionary (no Google then), and looked up the word ‘perseverance’. Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success - everyone thought it was funny, but Fella and I were a little hurt. I'm not sure we went back to class after that. He eventually got better on the lead, but would often run off with other dogs, or stubbornly roll in a muddy puddle or even better horse poo. I would bathe him when we got home and he would run around the house, rubbing his ears on the carpet and shaking water everywhere. He was a tornado of chaos, mess and fun.

I love Cairn Terriers for their film star looks. Famous Cairn Terriers include Toto from the Wizard of Oz, and also Spit the Dog from Tizwas. But my own Cairn Terrier Fella was famous more for his singing. It started with him howling at the theme tune for Coronation Street, we would run to turn the sound off so he'd stop. Then bizarrely his favourite singalong tune became Zambezi by the Piranhas, an 80s tune which he must have heard on Top of the Pops. My friends would howl with laughter at him. It got so bad that even saying “Zambezi” would start him off with a low howl, getting higher and louder with every breath. Even now hearing the opening notes from the trumpet, brings back memories of my funny little dog.

I was 27 when he died and I was heartbroken. But he left us with many happy memories of good times. I hated coming back to see an empty chair and always expected him to be around, but he was gone. The loss was huge.

Fella following in Toto's footsteps...captured by the camera again!

I persuaded my parents to get another Cairn Terrier puppy and Toby came into our lives. He was just as plucky, just as handsome, but luckily this time not a singer. His special trick was to dig up flowers, bury a bone and then dig it all up again days later.

If I ever get another dog it would definitely be a Cairn Terrier. I love their big personalities and sturdy nature. They stand proud and strut around as if they own the place, which of course they nearly always do. A special little dog with bags of energy and personality, who will give you years of love.


Thanks again to Lorraine for sharing this. Please do pass on any comments you may like to share or if you'd like to contribute the do drop me a message via email of my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter accounts.

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