This is Augusta

Augusta is a Coton de Tulear, also known as a Madagascan Ratting Dog. She came to us as a puppy in August 2008, and has been a significant part of the family ever since!

She is friendly, chatty, playful, intelligent – sometimes too intelligent for her own good.

She is not a greedy dog, and generally does not smell particularly ‘doggy’.

She lives with our cat – they sort of respect each other.

About Cotons

Cotons are named for the city of Tuléar in Madagascar, and for their cotton like coat.


Here live Cotons

Tradition has it that they were bred by pirates in the region and kept on their boats to keep down rats. Since the only thing Gussie keeps down in the house is spiders, we don’t give this story much credence.

Cotons are Madagascar’s national dog, so we were very disappointed that they never appeared in the film Madagascar.

Cotons are robust dogs and Gussie has remained healthy and relatively free from vet’s bills for most of her life.

Their coats are very fine and need care and attention. Gussie gets a brush every day and a wash and blow dry from Melissa at Edgemore Vets every six weeks or so.

Cotons are not yet common in England. They are, however, well known in France. Indeed, the French Kennel Club was the first to recognise Cotons as a breed in their own right.

See the Wikipedia entry for Cotons.

About Augusta

In 2007 Hannah, the little rescue Maltese Terrier we had inherited from Clang’s mum, died. She was a wonderful dog and came on in leaps and bounds with us. However, she had a number of health issues, as Maltesers tend to do. We decided that when we replaced her we would find a breed that was a bit more robust.

We brought Augusta from a breeder in Doncaster. We are occasionally inclined to ask of Gussie, ‘Where did you come from?’, to which the answer is ‘Doncaster’.

We named her Augusta because she was born in August, and she looked very august when we first saw her. Inevitably, she is now known as ‘Gussie’ for short – or ‘Disgusta’ when she has rolled in something horrible.

She is not a greedy dog, living mainly off chicken and Royal Canin biscuits. She does likes her treats, and has a great sense of time. Come six o’clock she starts to explore the treats cupboard, which is a remarkably good trigger for us to explore the drinks cupboard.

Why we love our Coton

For the morning stretch!

She normally only thinks about getting out of bed when one of us puts on some shoes, after which she has a good roll on the best carpet, before demanding to go for a walk!

…and also because she is…

Happy at work

She is happy to hang out with Mum at work


Well, usually. Not sure why she turned her back on a fellow spectator at the raft race.

Travels well

She has been all over the place with us


She likes to know what’s going on, and occasionally reads the papers if she thinks there might be something of interest


Likes to explore and discover new experiences

An excellent dinner guest

She is happy to join in at parties

Walking with Augusta

Weekdays, Gussie normally gets a short walk round the village or along the top of Caulkley’s Bank. Weekends she gets a longer walk – Gilling Woods is a favourite and she can handle a 4-mile walk with no difficulty.

We occasionally take her on longer 6 to 8 mile hikes at Sutton Bank, Malham Tarn, the Lastingham circuit, Arran and elsewhere. She enjoys them, especially if we are with other dogs, although she may sleep for a day or two on her return.

The downside

Occasionally it seems we are living with a giant moth in the house. Gussie can chew her way through an Ikea throw in no time, often cutting perfect right angles.


She sits on the arm of the sofa, looking out of the window and barking at anyone who dares come anywhere near the house. The postie is, fortunately, quite used to it now.

She hates fireworks, which makes the days either side of 5 November very distressing for her and us.


Young Cotons and their coats

Young Cotons come with bright orange markings, which fade over the years.

Cotons are hypo-allergenic non-shedders. Her low undercarriage she gets very muddy in the wet, so we often take her for a walk wearing one of Alex’s old baby vests. She does not like it, but it keeps her moderately mud-free.

Ours is technically a ‘white’ Coton. You can also get black-and-white and tri-colour Cotons and a ‘honey bear’ in which, presumably, the orange markings stay for life.

Augusta and Scrumbles

August and Scrumbles (our cat) have a very special relationship. We are not quite sure what the relationship is but it is certainly special.


Here is a miscellaneous selection of photos of Gussie and the cat. We would love to hear what you think of her.