Add into the mix a real job (and a wife who has a job too), and close to zero at-home computer function for the last 10 days due to a crashing Internet connection, and I hope I am excused for not checking the anonymous postings on Internet bulletin boards across the pond.
If someone has a question or a suggestion, most people know how to get hold of me easy enough.
Which is what a friend did yesterday.
Where was I, he wanted to know? Apparently some anonymous Irish kid was raising a kerfuffle because I had said something bad about Irish dogs?
I did? Really? When was that?
I looked through my old posts, and apparently, it's not this post, in which I defend Eire's honor, but this one, which is more than two years old and which speaks of the old Irish "strong dog" tests and the potted histories that you commonly find for all Kennel Club dogs, including the Glen of Imaal terrier.
A two year old post? Did someone just get their first dog, or did they just get their first computer?
Now here's the funny thing about this kerfuffle -- the "strong dog" tests once given by the Irish Kennel Club have not been done since 1968!
And when they were given, they weren't much of a test of a working dog were they? The Teastas Mor lasted for all of 5-minutes.
Five minutes? Five minutes.
In this Kennel Club test the dog was not required to find the quarry at all, and if the terrier bayed it was summarily disqualified.
Since the Kennel Club rules for this "test" were knitted up prior to the invention of locator collars, one has to wonder how the dog was supposed to be found underground. Telepathy? Dowsing rod?
But of course the dog did not need to be located, did it? The Teastas Mor was nothing more than a timed badger-baiting trial in a short artificial earth made to look "natural."
In fact this 5-minute "trial" with its fancy name was nothing more than a bit of nonsense cocked up by the folks at the Irish Kennel Club who were looking for a historical rationale for their over-large terriers.
Truth be told, even in the 1920s, the native terriers of Ireland were not seen too often in the field. The Teastas trials were designed as a promotion tool for dogs which needed a rationale to exist. Think American Kennel Club Earthdog trials, and you have the right idea.
So that's the background.
The new development is that some fellow I have never heard of before now wants to create a Sturm und Drang about the prowess of Kennel Club dogs at Irish Kennel Club badger-baiting trials that were last held nearly 40 years ago.
He does? Well God bless him for being so helpful to the cause of field sports at this critical time in the political debate.
Badger baiting trials; now there's a thing to be proud of and drag into the current world as if it's a practice as current as this morning's milk!
Now, if some anonymous person in Ireland wants to claim his country has the best badger-baiting dogs in the world, whom am I to deny the claim? After all, I suppose somebody has to "elect to receive" in the javelin throw. Why not the Irish?
That said, I think it's an insult to Irish diggers to tar them with this artificial five-minute "test" cocked up more than 80 years ago by the Irish Kennel Club which banned it almost 40 years ago. It surely does the Irish no favors that this trial was a "test" designed not to emulate real hunting but badger-baiting. There are real diggers in Ireland today. Let us celebrate them, eh?
Now if some folks are too stupid to see that a celebration of the old Teastas tests is a very bad thing, then I will not point it out to them. I try to extend charity to the truely retarded, not abuse them for their lack of insight.
The funny thing about my post on the Irish "strong dog" tests is that the quotes I set into the piece were written by none other than Henry B. Fottrell, who actually supplied the badgers used for the first Teastas Mor trials.
Fottrell held office in the Irish Kennel Club from 1936 to 1978 -- the entire era of the Teastas Mor trials. The article from which I quoted in my original post first appeared in the December 1926 edition of Dogdom magazine. For the record, this is not secret knowledge, and the article I quoted from is not hard to find on the Internet.
As for the over-large native terriers of Ireland, I do not need to say one word about them, as the Irish diggers vote with their wallets on that one, don't they?
Look at the sort of dog that is standing behind most Irish diggers today, and it's the same sort of dog you find everywhere else in the world: Patterdales, Russells, Border Terriers, Fells, and some crosses of the aforementioned.
Take a looks here for example. What's that dog that Seamus Erwin is holding? It's a Patterdale you say? Named after a small village in County Cork is it? I had no idea. His first dog was descended from those used in the Lake District of Dundalk? I must visit that area. The Cheviot Hills are just outside of Dublin are they? That smooth coated white dog is a Glen of Imaal is it? Ah! Pour me a drink, and I will swear to it.
Pour me a second drink and I will raise a glass to Reverend John Russell who was vicar in Kilkenny. And while we're tossing back a pint, let's drink a round to Tommy Dobson who was a Leprechaun if there ever was one. And let's pour a shot for that great Irish poet Ossian. Ossian knew his dogs! If you want to know about Irish dogs, every true word on the subject was first penned by Ossian!
Now I am having a bit of fun, of course, but it's not like the original post was written to actually solicit genuine information was it? As for Kennel Club Glen's, they are about as common in the field today as Chihuahuas.
So what was the point of this fellow's post?
Well, it could be a simple matter of another Internet Troll on the boards. Such people are common enough, and I have written about them before.
But perhaps in this case it is something else. Think about it -- a person with an anonymous name shows up less than a year ago on a working terrier board, and now he wants to talk about badger baiting in a country where that practice is quite illegal?
Hmmmm. Sounds like a honey pot operation to me.
What's a honey pot? A honey pot is an old trick. You put down bait (preferably under cover of dark) and then stand back and shoot anything that comes in to feed on it.
I have written before about how these Internet bulletin boards might be a problem in this regard, and more people should probably be aware of how these honey pot schemes work if they want to stand clear of real trouble themselves, especially in the U.K.
In the old days, law enforcement "honey pots" were store-front fencing operations manned by the police, or a buy-and-bust drug corners where undercover cops replaced the local dealers which had been rounded up a half hour before.
Nowdays, thanks to the Internet, cops never have to leave their chair to make a bust -- they just go online to find the folks they want to arrest. Whether they are looking for wildlife poachers or illegal aliens, terrorists or pedophiles, neo-Nazis or stolen property, the Internet is the new hunting ground for law enforcement.
Are wildlife officials and animal rights lunatics using the Internet this way?
Believe it. It has been tried on me (though I do nothing illegal with my dogs), and it has been tried on others.
Right now the Roller Pigeon community is in a bit of a pinch and a bulletin board had to be closed down for a week so that it could be scrubbed of all mention of hawk and falcon killing. Falconers have similarly been nailed for illegal bird sales overseas.
Heads up and fair warning.
Those in the U.K. who ignore this caution can go to page 30 of the June issue of Earth Dog-Running Dog magazine to find the telephone number of the Hunting Lawyer they may soon need. Those who want to see what the working terriers of Ireland actually look like, however, can go to page 29 of that same magazine. A little irony there, eh?
The best advice, of course, is to do nothing illegal. That's what I do, but of course that's an easy course of action here in the U.S.A. which still remains the Land of the Free.
My genuine sympathies to the folks in the U.K. who are being persecuted by lunatics. All I can offer is immigration advice.
Terrier work is still legal over there, of course, and I suppose if you mind yourself you can stay clear of the law. For God's sake, however, stay away from young thugs that want to talk about badger-baiting anywhere.
Nowdays mere possession of a historical book about badger digging is enough to raise an indictment in the press. And you will note how freely this recent press account confuses hunting badgers with badger baiting and how much genuine fiction is slipped in as well.
This is the slippery slope I was warning about in my original post -- the same slippery slope that the animal rights lunatics in the U.K. would love for folks to slide down.
A word to the wise in this regard should be sufficient.
As for Honey Pot Poseurs and Internet Trolls, the best course of action is to ignore them and delete them.
A genuine digger has nothing to prove, and throws his or her dirt with a shovel and not a keyboard. He has a real name and a real address and does not play games with the law or foment negative discussion, especially in a public space like an online bulletin board.
Anyone who wants to drop me an email with a genuine question, a correction or to offer a different point of view, my internet connection is back up again, and my email address is in the top right margin, as always.
Honest working dogs do not need a Kennel Club test to prove their worth;
they simply need an owner with a shovel who is willing to take them out and use it.
they simply need an owner with a shovel who is willing to take them out and use it.