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Historical Notes

Artwork and excerpts from: The illustrated Natural History
By the Rev. John George Wood
Published in 1865


This Dog was employed with terrible success in the invasion of America by the Spaniards, and was, in the eyes of the simple natives, a veritably incarnated spirit of evil of which they had never seen the like, and which was a fit companion to those fearful apparitions which could separate themselves into two distinct beings at will, one with four legs and the other with two, and destroy them at a distance with fiery missis. against which they were as defenseless as against the lightning from above,

Even in more recent times, the services of these Dogs have been rendered available against the rebel forces of Jamaica, when they rose against the Government, and bat for the able assistance of these fierce and sagacious animals, would apparently have swept off the European inhabitants of the island.

The Terrier, with all its numerous variations of crossed and mongrel breeds, is more generally known in England than any other kind of Dog. Of the recognised breeds, four are generally acknowledged; namely, the English and Scotch Terriers, the Skye, and the little Toy Terrier, which will be described in their order.

The English Terrier possesses a smooth coat, a tapering muzzle, a high forehead, bright intelligent eye, and a strong muscular jaw. As its instinct leads it to dig in the ground, its shoulders and fore-legs are well developed, and it is able to make quite a deep burrow in a marvelously short time, throwing out the loose earth with its feet, and dragging away the stones and other large substances in its mouth. It is not a large Dog, seldom weighing more than ten pounds, and often hardly exceeding the moiety of that weight

Although a light, quick, and lively creature, and fuming with anxiety at the sight or smell of the animals which are popularly termed " vermin," the pure English Terrier will seldom venture to attack a rat openly, although it will be of the greatest service in discovering and unharbouring that mischievous rodent .The sport which this Dog prefers is, that itself should startle the rats, while its master destroys them. If a rat should fasten upon this Dog, he will yelp and cry piteously, and, when relieved from his antagonist, will make the best of his way from the spot ; or if the rat should turn to bay, the Dog will usually scamper off and decline the combat. The celebrated rat-killing warriors, of whose feats so much has been said, were all indebted for their valour to аn infusion of the bull-dog blood, which gives the requisite courage without detracting from the shape of the Dog, or adding too much to its size. Of these bull-terrier Dogs, more will be said in their place.

The colour of the pure English Terrier is generally black and tan, the richness of the two tints determining-much of the animal's value. The nose and the palate of the Dog ought to be always black, and over each eye is a small patch of tan colour. The tail ought to be rather long and very fine, and the legs as light as is consistent with strength.

The Bull-terrier unites in itself the best qualifications of the sporting Dogs, being very intelligent, apt at learning, delicate of nose, quick of eye, and of indomitable courage. In size it is extremely variable, some specimens being among the smallest of the canine tribes, while others measure as much as twenty inches in height. In this Dog it is quite unnecessary to have equal parts of the bull-dog and the Terrier ; for in that case the progeny is sure to be too heavily made about the head and jaws, and not sufficiently docile to pay instant and implicit obedience to the commands of its master. Until these points are removed, the Terrier cross should be continued, so as to restore the light, active form of the Terrier, together with its habit of ready obedience, while the courageous disposition remains. Indeed, the most ferocious Dogs, and the hardest fighters, are generally the immediate offspring of the bull-dog and Terrier, and are often erroneously described under the name of the former animal.

How entirely the external form of the bull-dog can be eradicated, while its dauntless courage remains intact, is shown in the graceful little Terriers which are used for rat-killing, and which are formed on the most delicate model.

The endurance and gallantry of these little creatures are so great that they will permit several rats, each nearly as large as themselves, to fix upon their lips without flinching in the least, or giving any indications of suffering. Yet the badly-bred Dog will yell with pain if even a mouse should inflict a bite upon this sensitive portion of its frame, and will refuse to face its little enemy a second time. One of these highly bred animals, which was celebrated in the sporting world under the title of "Tiny," weighed only five lbs. and a half, and yet was known to destroy fifty rats in twenty-eight minutes and five seconds. It is estimated that this Dog must have killed more than five thousand rats aggregate weight of which nearly equals a ton and a half. He could not be daunted by size or numbers, and was repeatedly matched against the largest rats that could be procured.

He used to go about his work in the most systematic and business-like style, picking out all the largest and most powerful rats first, so as to take the most difficult part of the task while he was fresh. When fatigued with his exertions, he would lie down and permit his master to wash his mouth and refresh him by fanning him, and then would set to work with renewed vigour. He was a most excitable little creature during his younger days, running about the room with such preternatural activity that a gentleman to whom he was exhibited declared that he could not distinguish the Dog's head from his tail, or pronounce judgment on the colour of his fur.

As he grew older, however, he became more sedate in his demeanour, and used to sit in state every evening on a crimson velvet cushion edged with gold fringe, and flanked with a candle on each side, so that he might be inspected at leisure.

However quiet he might be in external demeanour, he was hardly less excitable in disposition, and actually died from the effects of over-excitement. He happened to hear or to smell a rat which was in a cage in another room ; and being chained in an adjoining apartment, and unable even to see the rat, he chafed and fretted himself into such feverish agitation that he died in a short time afterwards, although he was permitted to kill the rat There are Dogs which have destroyed more rats in less time than this little creature; but none which was nearly so successful in proportion to its size and weight

The mental powers of this Dog are very considerable, and the animal is capable of performing self-taught feats which argue no small amount of intellect. There are seven! examples of Dogs which could in some degree appreciate the object of money, and which would take a coin to the proper shop and exchange it for food. A well-known black-and- tan Terrier, which lately resided at Margate, and was named Prince, was accustomed to make his own purchases of biscuit as often as he could obtain the gift of a halfpenny for that purpose. On several occasions the baker whom he honoured with his custom thought to put him off by giving him a burnt biscuit in exchange for his halfpenny. The Dog was very much aggrieved at this inequitable treatment, but at the time could find an opportunity of showing his resentment. However, when he next received an eleemosynary halfpenny, he wended his way to the baker's as usual, with the coin between his teeth, and waited to be served. As soon as the baker proffered him a biscuit, Prince drew up his lip so as to exhibit the halfpenny, and then walked coolly out of the shop, transferring his custom to another member of the same trade who lived on the opposite side of the road.

Several instances of a similar nature have been recorded, but in no case does the animal appear to have comprehended the difference of value between the various coins of the realm...



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