Pets

The wire-hair Fox-terrier is, with the exception of its coat, identical with the smooth Fox-terrier—full brother in fact to him. The two varieties are much interbred, and several litters in consequence include representatives of both; and not only this, but it is quite a frequent occurrence to get a smooth puppy from wire-hair parents, although for some generations neither of the parents may have had any smooth cross in their pedigrees.

Many people are deterred from keeping dogs by the belief that the hobby is expensive and that it entails a profitless amount of trouble and anxiety; but to the true dog-lover the anxiety and trouble are far outbalanced by the pleasures of possession, and as to the expense, that is a matter which can be regulated at will. A luxuriously appointed kennel of valuable dogs, who are pampered into sickness, may, indeed, become a serious drain upon the owner's banking account, but if managed on business principles the occupation is capable of yielding a very respectable income.

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.

There is perhaps no breed of dog that in so short a time has been improved so much as the Airedale. He is now a very beautiful animal, whereas but a few years back, although maybe there were a few fairly nice specimens, by far the greater number were certainly the reverse of this.

The modern practice of dog-breeding in Great Britain has reached a condition which may be esteemed as an art. At no other time, and in no other country, have the various canine types been kept more rigidly distinct or brought to a higher level of perfection. Formerly dog-owners—apart from the keepers of packs of hounds—paid scant attention to the differentiation of breeds and the conservation of type, and they considered it no serious breach of duty to ignore the principles of scientific selection, and thus contribute to the multiplication of mongrels.

Of the many different kinds of dogs now established as British, not a few have had their origin in other lands, whence specimens have been imported into this country, in course of time to be so improved by selection that they have come to be commonly accepted as native breeds. Some are protected from the claim that they are indigenous by the fact that their origin is indicated in their names. No one would pretend that the St. Bernard or the Newfoundland, the Spaniel or the Dalmatian, are of native breed.

The Greyhound is the oldest and most conservative of all dogs, and his type has altered singularly little during the seven thousand years in which he is known to have been cherished for his speed, and kept by men for running down the gazelle or coursing the hare. The earliest references to him are far back in the primitive ages, long before he was beautifully depicted by Assyrian artists, straining at the leash or racing after his prey across the desert sands. The Egyptians loved him and appreciated him centuries before the pyramids were built.

This gamest of all the terriers has been known as a distinct and thoroughly British breed for over a century, which is, I think, a fairly ancient lineage. There are various theories as to its original parentage, but the one which holds that he was the result of a cross between the Otterhound and the Dandie Dinmont suggests itself to me as the most probable one. His characteristics strongly resemble in many points both these breeds, and there can be but little doubt of his near relationship at some time or other to the Dandie.

The experienced dog-owner has long ago realised that cleanliness, wholesome food, judicious exercise and a dry, comfortable and well-ventilated kennel are the surest safeguards of health, and that attention to these necessaries saves him an infinitude of trouble and anxiety by protecting his dogs from disease.

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