Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tales That Dog Dealers Tell

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 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 working dog dealers that do not seem to own a locator collar or a decent shovel and digging bar.

Like parents who have sent their children off to Lake Wobegone Summer Camp, every dog dealer wants to believe their dogs are "above average." To do that, they think 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?

Just asking...

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 they?


jeffrey thurston said...

It's funny- I love your blog and I kind of see it as the "Larousse Gastronomique" of terrier information on the internet- deep and accurate and wide-ranging. You speak for a very specific traditional sport which reminds me of tweedy England of the first half of the 20th century- and for a little dog which is both humble and tony. Farmer's mutt and barn dog of the rich and famous. Being a terrierman traditionally has meant the sport as you describe it- hunting with a little dog in the earth. (I guess). But I have to say that there are many people using terriers here in the US for many hunting uses. As you say- "To each his own." There are people using Jagds and JRTs to hunt wild hogs and coyotes- getting up there towards "big game" category. And here in California we have professional terriermen who exterminate rodents. I wish I could use my little guys to actually go to ground after a groundhog- when I visit my parents in upstate New York I see perfect places to find the critters but the dogs aren't with me! As far as mangled faces- my previous little JRT had her face and ears mangled by a big cat- she couldn't help herself but to try and hold it at bay. So I appreciate your blog- I live vicariously through it- but I also realize that in real life I'll never use my dogs for what they were really bred for. I appreciate their scrappiness and game just fantasy hunting squirrels in the neighborhood.

jeffrey thurston said...

I also meant to include cougars in the list of animals hunted with jagds- hogs, cougars ,coyotes...

5string said...

Let me tell y'all about the adrenaline soaked big game take-down my Ratties managed a few days ago. You should have seen it; a place where the sun never shines (under my shed), the wood so thick a snake would have trouble negotiating (spare lumber pile),
The prey so fierce, his sleek gray hair, his dark eyes, his nimble-footed attempt to escape the deadly wrath of my baying terriers failed in the end and my two Ratties just about tore that mouse in two fighting over possession!

PBurns said...

I am composing an opera about it, and I am going to cast that mouse in bronze to preserve the memory. In the interim, a joke:

A Scotsman was invited for a visit to the home of his Canadian friend. Soon after the Scotsman arrived, he glanced out the window to see a huge beast just outside. He pointed, and asked his Canadian friend, "Och, lad, what's that?" The Canadian replied, "Oh, that's a moose." The Scotsman stared in disbelief, and replied, "That's a moose?! Good lard, I don wan to see yer rrrrats!!"