"The closer you get to Canada, the more things there are that'll eat your horse" - The Missouri Breaks
A dog dealer emailed me a few week ago. I will not name him or post my complete note back to him, but I did enjoy pricking the balloon that terrier work of any kind is big game hunting in truly wild country done by hardened macho men.
You can only believe that nonsense if you have never been close to big game, never been in truly wild country, and never known a truly dangerous man. As I noted:
Yes we hunt [with terriers] in America, and we hunt without apology and within the law. But it's not exactly big game hunting, is it? This is small potatoes stuff, and the strutting and braggadocio that goes on among dog dealers is funny when held up to the cold light of day.
Raccoon, groundhog, badger, and fox are not exactly mountain lions, grizzly bear, and wolves are they? Let us tamp down the notion that we are big game hunters involved in mighty life-and-death struggles with fierce, killer fighting dogs. It's not true. That's the romantic rhetoric of a dog dealer.
Who cares what color a dog is, where it came from, who bred it, or what piece of paper is associated with it? Let the dog work, and the work will speak for the dog. No grand stories of heroic valor need to be told. No foreign origins need to be assigned, and no references to fighting dogs need ever be made.
Of course that's not the story told by the dog dealers, is it? And especially not the wannabe dog fighting men so often associated with Patterdale terriers these days.
Like parents who have sent their children off to Lake Wobegone Summer Camp, every dog dealer has to convince you their dogs are "above average." To do that, they must tell you their dogs are tougher, bigger and harder than the next. Their dogs are "the real deal" they will tell you. Accept no substitutes.
Really? I need a tougher dog? Why is that again?
After all, a fox, raccoon, or possum cannot dig away. Surely this dog dealer knows that? And surely this dog dealer knows how to dispatch quarry at the end of a dig?
But, of course, so many do not know how to handle quarry at the end of a dig, do they? Cuff a fox out of a hole? Tail out an animal bare-handed? How do you do that? So many have no idea!
And the evidence of ignorance shows, doesn't it?
How many of these dog dealers count as success not pictures of quarry dug to, but pictures of dogs with ripped muzzles?
This is success? Hmmmm.
Where I come from, we count success as showing a creature at the end of a dig, and a dog that has come to no serious harm as a result of a job well done by the human working in partnership with the dog.
Now, of course, some animals can dig away -- badgers and groundhogs for example. There is no denying it.
And yet, with some amusement, I note that one of the pictures of a wrecked dog on one of the anti-sites (the worst picture on there!) shows a Jack Russell Terrier ripped across the snout by a groundhog owned by an Englishman who was told groundhogs were no tougher than hamsters. He has learned since! They are not wolves or grizzly bears, to be sure, but they are not quite hamsters either, are they? Yes, they have teeth and will use them, but let us admit the truth: they are small game, and adding macho swagger to the idea of slipping one in the bag is silly if you actually know what it is you are doing.
But each to his own.
I suppose if you only dig a few times a year, every dig has to be an expedition, every raccoon or fox has to be a giant, and a slashed muzzle is a never-mind. After all, these folks have no real intent of going out digging next weekend too, do you?
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