Monday, February 18, 2008

Teddy Roosevelt's Terriers

In the picture, above, Skip is seated on Archie Roosevelt's lap at Sagamore Hill. At Sagamore Hill, when he wasn't making mischief around the house, Archie and Skip would go sailing in the Bay in a small boat called the "Why." Skip was Archie's dog, like Jack's was Kermit's. Roosevelt understood the value of dogs for boys, and boys for dogs; they kept each other out of trouble.

The "Patron Saint" of American working terriers has to be Teddy Roosevelt who more-or-less created the American Rat Terrier and worked rats in the basement of the White House.

Teddy Roosevelt was also one of America's greatest conservationists -- the creator of many of our largest National Parks, as well as the National Wildlife Refuge system and the National Forest system. Without Teddy Roosevelt's love of sport hunting -- and his firebrand opposition to market hunting -- we would not have the tremendous store of wild game we have in the U.S. today.

Teddy Roosevelt had many dogs, but one of his favorites was a small feist that adopted him while he was on a hunting trip in the West.
The dog was originally owned by John Goff and he crawled into Roosevelt's lap and heart while Roosevelt was on a 1905 Colorado bear hunt with Goff.

The dog, named "Skip," was a mongrel terrier that was black and tan in color and appears to have been of no particular breeding. Roosevelt himself described the dog
in a letter to his children (4/20/1905) as "an absurd little terrier" about half the size of Jack (a large Manchester terrier). Teddy later said "by little I mean a little of this, and a little of that.”

Roosevelt was impressed by the dog's ability to confront a bear head on, and later he taught the dog to ride on the saddle of a horse unaccompanied by a human.

In a September 1905 article in Outdoor Life magazine, Goff described his pack "in the order of efficiency" as "foxhounds, bloodhounds, crosses between these two, bull-terriers, fox-terriers, fox-terrier crosses with other terriers, and canines that can only be called just ‘dog’.”

Most bear packs of Goff's day included small
fiests who could work their way into brush and annoy a bear into bolting. In fact, such dogs are still used today to hunt bear, squirrel, raccoon, and possum in the south, and most are viritually indistintiguishable from the dogs known today as rat terriers.

Skip died the year prior to the president leaving office. The president sadly watched his burial behind the White House.

Roosevelt’s wife knew how much the dog meant to him, so after finishing his second term, she had Skip’s body exhumed. The dog was transported to the family’s estate in Sagamore Hill, and laid to rest.

As Mrs. Roosevelt explained to puzzled members of the press: Teddy couldn’t bear to leave him there "beneath the eyes of presidents who might care nothing for the little mutt dog."

The dog pictured above is Jack, with young Kermit Roosevelt.
Jack was a standard Machester terrier.

1 comment:

Rowdy and Bette said...

Nice post, Mr. Terrierman, and nice pics! We linked to this in a story on Dachshunds
in the White House

He looks like he has some dachshund in him to us!