Monday, August 27, 2007

Fake Work for the Glen of Imaal

You can look a long time for someone who has a real working Glen of Imaal terrier and still come up blank.

The reason: the dog is rare all over (there are only about 3,000 worldwide) and always has been, the dog is too large to work most fox dens (it was never used much for hunting, but instead was used for badger baiting which is quite different), and badger digging has been illegal in the UK and Eire for about 40 years.

So what to do? Up to now, the dog has mostly been a show dog, with a few animals being used for occassional bushing or ratting. Now, however, the Irish press in Wicklow reports (on the front page, no less) that the Irish Glen of Imaal Sporting Terrier Club of Ireland believes it can make the dog popular again by ginning up weight-pulling contests for the dog.

In these weight-pulling contests, the dogs are harnessed up a bit like eskimo sled dogs, and are urged to pull a weighted-down sleigh a short distance to showcase their determination.

I have written before about the absence of the Glen of Imaal terrier in the field, and the rise of pulling trials as a way of creating some fake proximity to the "work" of badger baiting; see here and the other links by clicking on the label below.

Now, it seems, the fakery has come home to the Wicklow valley itself. No harm done, of course; the Glen of Imaal was never a true working terrier, and if they invent a new game for the dog in the absence of badger-baiting and turnspits, more power to them.

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