by J. Fairfax Blakeborough
There is no more sporting dog in the whole of the genus canine than the terrier, there is no work so misused as that by which it is known. Terrier comes from the Latin-terra-ground, and the essential work of the species which qualities them for inclusion, therein, is their willingness and ability, and their conduct when they have been sent into an earth, drain, or hole to either bolt fox or otter, or, as an alternative, truthfully declare that the quarry is not there. The terrier is a necessary adjunct to every pack, the terrier man or “runner” equally so. Th former are frequently called upon, in the hunting field to start the. or provide the, pilot, and thus set the sporting ball a -rolling. It is the mission of the runner, by hook or by crook, by short cut and knowledge of the run of foxes, to be “there or thereabouts” with the hounds, so that if the quarry seeks refuge in an unstopped sanctuary, he may have his leader straining charges ready to expel him. On such occasions, the terriers occupy the position of the deacon at Gospel-time at a High Mass. Hounds and field stand aside for the terrier to perform his special bit of sporting ritual. Hounds may song in chorus at the mouth of an earth, but that only serves to make their fox stick his back closer to the earthen wall at the far end of his kennel. They are powerless, and it is the keen little fox-terrier which come to the assistance. So it will be seen that “the runner” and his changes, or the terrier-boy with his burden bagged on his back, are of not a little importance to the sport. It has been so all thought the history of venery—since the days when the bottom jaws of unfortunate badgers and foxes were cut away, so that young terriers might not have their courage spoiled at initial encounters.
How terriers follow hounds
Various hunts have varying arrangements for terriers following hounds. If one goes to primitive countries, like the Bilsdale and Farndale, it is not infrequently found that the terrier used in connection with the pack is the property of some private individual, who has proved his keenest and boldness by tracking foxes and badgers in the snow to their earth, and then sending in his terrier to interview them. In such cases, the dog is brought to tryst by his owner on the hunting morning, and, if the owner is not to stay to hunt, his representative is coupled to one of the hounds till needed. When there is work for him to do, all thoughts of slinking home vanish, for every terrier, worthy of the name, is a glutton for work. With other packs, and famous packs, too, the “hunt runner” is quite part of their tradition. Who hunted years ago with the O.B.H. (West), and does not remember “Jack?”. For sixty years was he an institution on this country, and Lord Carrington (with who bloodhounds he often ran) once gave him the highest praise which can be accorded to the office, when he said he had never seen a man, mounted or unmounted, live better with hounds. Then Piggott, with the Puckeridge, who like “Jack”, ran in a hunt cap and scarlet coat, was an important member to the staff. He ran with the hounds as a boy, when he should have been at school, and was “hided”, but not cured; he ran with them as a man in his official capacity, till rheumatism compelled him to hand over the chains to a successor. Then the Belvoir had the immortal David Swinton, an honor enthusiast, and still have scarlet-coated runners on the Leicestershire side. We are told he thought nothing of going on foot ten or twelve miles to a fixture, and would “shog” home, at hound pace, with the pack at dusk, cutting corners when possible, but often driving at his destination as soon as they did. Then Dick Baker for many years ran with the terriers of the Essex, the Hertfordshire, and Puckeridge. His master passion was well earned, and recognized; to be looked upon as a member of the hunt staff.
Lord Lonsdale had fully equipped runner when master of the Quorn, and an interesting writer, in describing “Harry”, who occupied the position a few years ago, under the Cumberland peer, and was engaged by Captain Forrester, who followed him, tells us; “He turned out in scarlet coat of a lecture too heavy; white flannel knicker-bockers , black stockings, and a well-groomed hunting cap. He had a couple of varminty wire-haired terriers, of the celebrated Lonsdale breed, and strapped to his back was a patent sappers spade, with pick made of steel.
An official Quorn runner must be a good hand with work in the off season, digging out badgers which abound in the High Leicestershire. Sellars, the Cottesmore runner, has his pages in the history of the hunt, for he saved many a famous run from an abrupt termination, by turning up at the right moment with his canine fox-extractors. The North Cotswold Hunt members will never forget the service of Butler, who was “running” when many of them were boys on ponies. There are other famous packs, the Sinnington amongst them. which have, and have had, terrier-,em, who, no matter what the weather, distance, or character of the country, have followed hounds on foot, and, by their enthusiasm , their assistance to it, have raised, and not only reduced, the dignity of the scarlet.
Cycle and Equestrian Terrier-men
In recent years, the bicycle has been requisitioned for those holding the position, but whilst it saves the runners legs, when fixtures are some distances from the kennel, the machine is often times a burden to the soul and body, and a hinderance to the progress. The greater majority of packs, nowadays, have their terrier-boy mounted and carrying his charges in a leather bag on his back. This is an easy means of crossing the country alike fir the little bodies (the heads of which are poked out of the bag), and those in charge of them; but it is quite a question as to weather the system carries with it any more certainty of the terrier being at hand when needed than the older method of a leash-in-hand runner. Certainly the popular method does not requite the enthusiasm, and the great power of endurance, knowledge of country, ands the routes of the foxes, which were the essential possession of the old hands referred to. These latter were the guides, and controllers of the foot-folks, who paid no small homage and heed to them. They rectified the sins of omission off the field with regard to the shitting of gates and so saved damage and annoyance to the farmers. They knew the idiosyncrasies of nearly every field and fence in the country, and they were nothing if not characters. The terrier-boy of to-day, wearing the full hunt livery, riding one of the hunt horses, and a part of its personnel, may have a twinkle in his eye, he may have a fund of humour; but he is on the bottom rung of the ladder, which hopes to climb, so that, one day, he may carry the horn which is at the top of it. So he must sink his individuality.
A Bedale Reminiscence
The late Fred Holland, for so many years huntsman of the Bedale, like his contemporary, Grant, then with lord Middleton’s was a great terrier-,am. and more then once said to the writer that “good terrier were as important, in many countries, as good hounds, and knowledge of their breeding as essential a part of the huntsman’s duty.” Holland used to have one terrier which could sit on the pommel of his saddle, with its fore-feet on the horses wharrage, and cling as as his road owner galloped and jumped fence after fence. The little dogs, i verily believe, are really keener about sport then foxhounds, which always seem ti look so patronizing down upon them. For their size, there is perhaps, no animal possessed of such courage, and no matter how they have been “kissed” in an encounter on Monday, they are trembling with nervous excitement and anxiety to be off with the hounds on Wednesday morning. They are insuperable to the sport of fox hunting, no matter how well stopped a country may be.
Turberville and Terriers
In Turberville’s days (1576), the terrier was even more important in venery than to-day, as he shows us in his “Book of Hunting”, a quotation from which fittingly brings these notes to a conclusion. Even in the days of this archaic writer, there were “sundrie sorts of terriers”, now there are “sundrie sorts”, miscalled terriers. He says:
“Another sort there is which are shagged and straight-legged; those with the crooked legged will take earth better than the other, and are better for the badgered, because they will lye longer at a vermin; but the others with straight legs do serve for two purposes, for they will hunt above ground as well as other hounds, and enter the earth with more fury than the others; but they will not abide so long, because they are too eager in the fight, and therefore, are constrained to come out and take the air, there are both good and bad of both sorts, and because it is good pastime, and brave fight, without great pain or travail to the huntsman, therefore i have thought good to set down here some precepts for the entering of terrier. and for the better fleshing and encouraging them”.