Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rawdon Lee :: The Fox Terrier, 1902



Chapter I, Paragraph One

"With the fashion changing in dogs pretty nearly as frequently as it does in dress, there is little wonder that the fox terrier of the present day has become a different animal in appearance from the one so regular an attendant with packs of hounds a century ago. Now, in nine cases out of ten, he is produced for his beauty alone, for his symmetry, for his graceful contour, for his endearing disposition. When our great grandfathers lived, and before they were born, the fox terrier, bred for use, was only considered an ornament when he went to ground well, was able to successfully battle with the fox or the badger, and kill single-handed the foulmart (or polecat) and other predaceous vermin."

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1 comment:

retrieverman said...

I've never heard of that term of "foulmart" for polecat, but I assume that it is derived from the words "foul" and "marten" in reference to its characteristic mustelid glands. The polecat is a ferret-- the wild version. Hybrids between domestic ferrets and polecats have gone wild in New Zealand and are an ecological hazard.

Now, the French called the pelt of the polecat a "fichet." From this term, we get the term "fitch" for both polecats and mink, and the large marten of North America is called a fisher. The term fisher doesn't refer to its diet. It's just a corruption of fichet, for the French were selling the big marten's fur as polecat fur.

I don't know how polecats got confused with skunks, which aren't even mustelids.

Interestingly, the European mink is no longer classified with the American mink and the extinct sea mink. A European mink hybridized with a polecat, something that American mink can't do.