Unknown for The Preston Herald
Dog lovers who have taken their holidays in the Lake District, and especially those who have seen anything of local sport, have probably taken some interest in the queer little nondescript terrier which are to be met with in that part of the world. Fox, Scottish and Irish are all so be seen in plenty, but among the familiar crowd every now and then once chances across a queer little fellow who, upon inquiry, proves to be called by some few a Patterdale terrier, by the majority just a terrier.
Now, it does no good trying to describe this little person for the benefit of those who have not visited this country, for he varies in almost every village, and is frankly a mongrel origin. Mind, he is a grand terrier all the same, strong as a diminutive cart horse, of useful size, keen as mustard, and game as the proverbial pebble. No wonder that those who see the dog at work admire him, for he is very businessmen like in all he does, and the amount of pluck and determination compressed into a small compact is in his case amazing.
We have known the Patterdale terrier for a large number of years, and periodically we have seen the same suggestion cop up, namely that the dog should be brought under the hand of the exhibitor, that classes should be provided for him, and that from a rough, hillside working tyke he should be changed into that rather pitiable contradiction in terms, a “show terrier”. The suggestion at first used to arouse me to anger, as falling into the Trap we pictured this survivable worker the victim of exhibitors’ whims; now, however, the suggestion does not interfere with our peace of mind, for there are very good reasons why the Patterdale tyke is likely to remain to many a year free as his native hills.
In the meantime, doubtless every year or so some misguided enthusiast will raise the old cry, as, indeed, it was raised only a few weeks since. Indignant letters will follow as a matter of course: the man wholes workers and hates show dogs will have his growl. The man who is quite sure that his show terrier would prove himself an ideal worker should a badger take possession of the back yard while have his say, and then the matter will blow over and the Patterdale terrier be left in peace another year.
Of course one does not suggest that the people who would train a useful dog into a more show ornament have any idea of doing harm; they truly believe in all seriousness that it is quite possible to encourage perfection of work with perfection of appearance at one and the same time. it should be possible , but alas, experience has shown that this is not the case.
Gameness, There are certain words every fancier of sportsman uses which are extremely difficult to define, for example, “condition”, a word often employed carelessly , “Gameness” is another word of the same type, or rather, perhaps is a word which varies in value according to the interpretation given to it by each user. favorite terrier chases a cat out of the garden, hills the neighbors hens, or makes a terrible hullabaloo i the lumber room after a mouse; promptly he is called game, and perhaps to certain degree he deserves the title. He comes from a game strain who’s nature it is to chase and kill things, so that it is hardly surprising if from time to time he shows a flicker of gameness. Suppose, however this game terrier is suddenly confronted by a savage old cat, which instead of running away waits for him. What does the dog do? In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he barks and dances around; then, though one may admire his discretion, one questions his right to the description of gameness. See one of these dogs kill a rat; they are all fuss and excitement while the rodent is in the trap, but once he is put down the terrier often shows unwillingness to seize him. So with the dog fight, the sight is always a hateful one, but it is not improved by seeing the dog which is getting the most punishment snapping aimlessly, yapping consistently, and trying to get away. In all such cases as these the fond owner naturally makes excuses, and he would still have us believe that his terrier is game at heart.
There is something almost terrible in the grim gameness of the old-fashioned worker. one comes across him something, just sufficiently often to prove that old tales were not fables. Endless examples of his keenness might be given, for he was, and is, as nearly fearless as it is possible for a living creatures to be. Pain apparently he does not understand, for once his blood is up, and he knows what his work is, he will do it at absolutely any cost. We have seen a terrier hopelessly smashed taking the keenest interest in a hunt, while another with a leg horribly splintered was struggling to prove that he could fo to earth just as well on three. Such terriers have been worried to death underground by fox or badger or torn to pieces about ground by stronger dogs without uttering a sound. They have been known to leap over high bridges for the sake of a rat, have put out fires and enjoyed the process, while their masters have successfully demonstrated by peculiar methods of their own the fact that their dogs were practically impervious to pain. The experiments they have adopted to prove this are too disgusting to describe, yet at least they were sufficient t convince one of the heartless owners point. Now, in all of this there is much that is brutal, yet, at least there is that which should make one just a little careful to use of the word which should mean so much, but which to other means so little.