Friday, August 22, 2014

The Unrefined Working Terrier

Another clip from the vaults over at Sports Illustrated, this time an article from the November 2, 1981 issue.

Twenty-three breeds of terrier are recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The Airedale is the biggest and, alphabetically, the first; the cairn is the smallest and the West Highland white is the last. (The Yorkshire terrier is officially in the toy group.)

There are Australian, Welsh and Scottish terriers from abroad, an American Staffordshire terrier here at home and Border terriers for those who prefer neutrality. There are fox terriers and bullterriers, soft-coated Wheaton terriers and wirehaired miniature Schnauzers.

They are a diverse and scrappy group. But there is one terrier virtually in a class by itself, because it is most emphatically not recognized by the American Kennel Club or the Kennel Club of its native Great Britain. It is the Jack Russell terrier.

"The first time I saw one," says an AKC official, "I thought, `That dog's a mistake.' Esthetically, it hit my eye wrong. They're an unrefined dog."

That's true. And Jack Russell people are delighted about it. In their eyes, unrefined and unrecognized is the same as unspoiled, and the last thing this world needs is another strain of spoiled, yapping terrier. "The snob appeal of the Jack Russell," says Captain Arthur Haggerty, an authority on dogs and dog owners, "is being able to say, `We're not recognized by the AKC, and we don't want to be recognized.' A Jack Russell person is the type of person who would buy a Bentley instead of a Rolls-Royce. It's the exact same car without the grille, you know. They're so wealthy they don't have to worry about impressing anybody."

Not sure a Bentley is the right comparison.

If you are looking to head off into forest, farm or field, you want something that can go off-road. You want something fit for function.

It's not about the hood ornament; it's about the engine, the suspension, the cooling system, the axles, and the road clearance. It's about getting the JOB done.

Shiner, a 1940 Ford Coupe rally car that raced from Paris to Peking.

And no, a Jack Russell Terrier is NOT the exact same thing as any other breed of terrier, but with a different grille. What a ridiculous statement!  Of course, Captain Arthur Haggerty would not know that, as he had never dug on a terrier in his life. He was an enormous fellow (350 pounds) who trained dogs to do tricks. He did not hunt, and I doubt he had ever even seen a fox in the wild. His opinion on working terriers is about as meaningful as his opinion -- or mine -- on yoga mats.

1 comment:

seeker said...

I'd compare a Jack to a British Land Rover. Go anywhere to get the job done. Or if you'll allow, a Jeep Wrangler w/o the top used for mudding, elking or just running around the pasture haying the cows.

Debi and the TX Jack Rats.