Animals

by Robert Leighton

 

It is now some thirty years since an important controversy was carried on in the columns of The Live Stock Journal on the nature and history of the great Irish Wolfhound. The chief disputants in the discussion were Captain G. A. Graham, of Dursley, Mr. G. W. Hickman, Mr. F. Adcock, and the Rev. M. B.

The Bull-terrier is now a gentlemanly and respectably owned dog, wearing an immaculate white coat and a burnished silver collar; he has dealings with aristocracy, and is no longer contemned for keeping bad company. But a generation or two ago he was commonly the associate of rogues and vagabonds, skulking at the heels of such members of society as Mr. William Sikes, whom he accompanied at night on darksome business to keep watch outside while Bill was within, cracking the crib.

Away back in the 'seventies numbers of miners in Yorkshire and the Midlands are said to have possessed little wiry-coated and wiry-dispositioned red dogs, which accompanied their owners to work, being stowed away in pockets of overcoats until the dinner hour, when they were brought out to share their masters' meals, perchance chasing a casual rat in between times.

The popularity of the dog as a companion, as a guardian of property, as an assistant in the pursuit of game, and as the object of a pleasurable hobby, has never been so great as it is at the present time. More dogs are kept in this country than ever there formerly were, and they are more skilfully bred, more tenderly treated, and cared for with a more solicitous pride than was the case a generation ago. There are fewer mongrels in our midst, and the family dog has become a respectable member of society. Two million dog licences were taken out in the British Isles in the course of 1909.

The Deerhound is one of the most decorative of dogs, impressively stately and picturesque wherever he is seen, whether it be amid the surroundings of the baronial hall, reclining at luxurious length before the open hearth in the fitful light of the log fire that flickers on polished armour and tarnished tapestry; out in the open, straining at the leash as he scents the dewy air, or gracefully bounding over the purple of his native hills.

To attempt to set forth the origin of the Fox-terrier as we know him to-day would be of no interest to the general reader, and would entail the task of tracing back the several heterogeneous sources from which he sprang.

Except in the matter of size, the general appearance and qualifications of the Miniature Black and Tan Terrier should be as nearly like the larger breed as possible, for the standard of points applies to both varieties, excepting that erect, or what are commonly known as tulip ears, of semi-erect carriage, are permissible in the miniatures.

There is no incongruity in the idea that in the very earliest period of man's habitation of this world he made a friend and companion of some sort of aboriginal representative of our modern dog, and that in return for its aid in protecting him from wilder animals, and in guarding his sheep and goats, he gave it a share of his food, a corner in his dwelling, and grew to trust it and care for it. Probably the animal was originally little else than an unusually gentle jackal, or an ailing wolf driven by its companions from the wild marauding pack to seek shelter in alien surroundings.

Of the many foreign varieties of the dog that have been introduced into this country within recent years, there is not one among the larger breeds that has made greater headway in the public favour than the Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound. Nor is this to be wondered at. The most graceful and elegant of all breeds, combining symmetry with strength, the wearer of a lovely silky coat that a toy dog might envy, the length of head, possessed by no other breed—all go to make the Borzoi the favourite he has become.

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