The power of the dog/The Scottish Terrier
"Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love,
But why did you kick me downstairs?"
J. P. Kemble.
SCOTTISH TERRIER "Scotty"Owned by the Hon. Mrs. Charles Tufton
THE SCOTTISH TERRIER
"The labour we delight in physics pain."
SHORT legged, long bodied terriers have been indigenous to Scotland for more centuries than history records. Something comes to us from the second half of the sixteenth century, when the Bishop of Ross wrote of a scenting dog, "of low height, indeed, but of bulkier body, which, creeping into subterraneous burrows, routs out foxes, badgers, martens, and wild cats from their lurking places and dens. Then, if he at any time finds the passage too narrow, opens himself a way with his feet, and that with so great labour that he frequently perishes through his own exertions." No matter what changes and modifications may have been since introduced by the skill of man, the bedrock fact remains that the Bishop's dogs were fashioned much on the lines of the aristocrats of the show bench to-day. Why Scotland should be prolific in terriers of the long and low shape, while England and Ireland are satisfied with those of a normal height is one of those things difficult of explanation. Theoretically, one would naturally imagine that the Scottish terrier, the subject of this sketch, the West Highlander, the Skye, the Dandie Dinmont, and the Cairn, would be better adapted for entering narrow earths than the fox terrier, but men of experience hold that it is not so much the length of leg which determines a dog's capacity for going to ground as his general shape, and a good fox terrier proves in a practical manner, to the refutation of logicians, that he is equal to the task.
As time goes it is but a brief period since the Scottish terrier emerged from the general ruck to take coherent shape, different from his fellows, but, if modern ideas are correct, we may gather some impression of what he was like by glancing at the Cairn terriers the next occasion that serves, for these are believed by many to be the aboriginal terrier whence the others have sprung. Whether the Dandie Dinmont so originated or not I should not like to hazard a conjecture without going further into the matter. The name, of course, only came into being after Scott had written "Guy Mannering," but the dog was there before the book, and before Mr. James Davidson of Hindlee, who is persistently credited with being the personage from whom Dinmont was drawn, although Sir Walter has told us the character was a composite one. There have been people to declare that the Dandie sprang from some Eastern dogs imported into Scotland---an idea which should not be inherently improbable, especially when we know for a certainty that the Egyptians some three thousand years ago had animals of this conformation. The rough coat would be Nature's method of compensating for the rigours of climate.
The Scottie is a stout hearted little fellow with plenty of pugnacity, qualities which stand him in good stead when, in his native land, he is asked to turn the fox out of his lair in the rocks. The task is not always easy, but the labour in which he delights physics pain, and he proceeds with zest to bring Reynard to his master's gun, for in Scotland vulpicide is no sin. In the rough country hounds are useless, and foxes are to be kept under or they will become a nuisance. In the South we have no better occupation for this solemn looking little man than to win prizes for us on the show bench, or to act as a companion for us in our homes and on our walks. This he does with much fidelity, winning his way into our hearts by his pleasing manners. In habits he has a good deal of independence, which calls for care in his early training if we would have him all an inmate of the house should be. He has the merit, too, of attaching himself exclusively to master or mistress, without the spaniel-like fawning upon strangers which may at times be very provoking.
English folk are very acquisitive, annexing dogs from all parts of the habitable globe. Why they should have been so long in finding out the Scottish terrier is one of those things which cannot well be explained, and when they did decree that he was worthy of recognition they insisted upon foisting upon him the localised name of "Aberdeen," under which he still goes among many who do not keep themselves informed in kennel affairs. It was not long before Scottie became the rage; again we have to thank the shows. Now there is scarcely a street in which he is not to be met. In his finest form, the flower of fine breeding, and with points that put him in front of his fellows, he is worth much money, but in the more homely guise of one discarded as being "not quite good enough" his worth is not esteemed highly. Fortunately, the majority of people are not worried about type and club standards, simply asking for a dog that is intelligent, faithful, and biddable, who will assume his position as a suitable member of the household. If we can get one combining these features with a satisfactory pedigree perhaps on the whole it is more agreeable, the average man preferring to feel that he has the correct thing, though he may not know anything about it in reality. It is perfectly true, too, that breeding is as apparent in a dog as it is in a horse or a man. There is an indefinable something that betokens class.