WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Gnarler

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Gnarler

Last week I mentioned we are big dog people; if a dog is small enough to get hurt when you step on it, then it’s too small. However, I need to add a codicil about little dogs: they are ferocious when protecting their people and property.

But I still prefer big dogs.

Aggravation by Briton Rivière, 1896, Christie’s.


A little dog that by his barking alarms the family when any person is breaking into the house.

Suspense by Edwin Henry Landseer, 1834, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Little dogs are characters. Their egos and bravado are at least twice their physical size. They have attitude to spare and often rule their domain with very little effort. Their cuteness brings reward and baby talk, which only adds to their feelings of self-importance. For proof, I offer up my parents, who were completely sane, intelligent, and practical people until their children moved from home and they became empty nesters. Enter two small dogs, and what began as sources of entertainment and companionship soon morphed into my parents ordering their days around their little ankle biters. Those pampered pooches get special food, luxury bedding, and have my parents trained to get up and down at least ten times a day to let them outside to torment squirrels, dig up flowerbeds, and otherwise “protect the property.”

Cupboard Love by Briton Rivière, 1881, The New Art Gallery Walsall.

But they are definitely gnarlers. No car may drive down the street, no person may walk for exercise, and no visitor may ring the doorbell without the barking alarms sounding loud and long.

And if  you are permitted entrance into the house, be warned that my parents are now those people who chastise encourage their gnarlers with “now, stop that” as their little darlings bare their teeth, snarl, and attempt to bite off your toes.

Highland Music by Edwin Henry Landseer, late 1820s, Tate Museum.


Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.