Several characters died during the first five seasons of Downton Abbey, but the most heartbreaking to many viewers was the death of Isis, Lord Grantham’s beloved yellow Labrador. It wasn't overly dramatized, and she had a good long life, but there were some cases of Old Yeller Syndrome.
Rumors floated that the dog’s name was the reason she was taken off, but the name, the plot, and the rise of the terrorist group had nothing to do with each other, according to the writer, Julian Fellowes.
The problem was that the Carnarvons who own Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey where much of the show is filmed, owned Labradors who had the run of the estate. They were quite territorial about having a would-be alpha Labrador in their home.
Pharaoh had to go.
So at the beginning of season 2 another yellow Lab was brought in just before the scheduled shooting with Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham). He knew they couldn’t just call the dog Pharaoh because she was female and much smaller.
In keeping with the Egyptian theme she became the goddess Isis and was an established member of the household at the beginning of season 2. Pharaoh’s absence was not explained.
Of course Bonneville regretted the choice of names as time went on.
Pharaoh was played by a dog named Roly. Isis was played by Ellie and later by Abbie. When Isis died, Abbie retired from her acting career.
The persistent internet rumour that Lord Grantham is given a new puppy by the Dowager Countess in season 6, the final season, is being denied. If it isn't true, this will be the only dogless season at Downton.
That would be sad.