The Bactrian Terier is descended from Alexander the Great's smallest dogs which hunted Tarvag and helped discover rich seams of gold along the Afghanistan and Tajikistan border. The Bactrian gold horde is named after this breed of dog as well as the region from which it originates.
|These two small Bactrian Terriers gave the Bactrian Gold Horde their name. Source.|
|Notice the small dog on the camel saddle. Small chest size was important to be able to squeeze down the narrow guartz and sand passages.Source|
A dozen Bactrian Terriers were brought to Colorado during the gold and silver strikes of the mid- 19th Century, and were used to locate and dig out Rocky Mountain marmots which also had a fondness for gold dust (aka "Misto" in the Dari language of Afghanistan).
Around the turn of the 20th Century, however, black rats came to Colorado and brought with them Bubonic Plague, which is now endemic in the prairie dog colonies of the state.
The first few waves of plague that swept through Colorado prairie dog towns also hammered the few Bactrian Terriers that remained, while decades-long wars in Afghanistan, coupled with a rise of fundamentalist Islam, which proscribes dog ownership unless it is for herding, guarding, or hunting, wiped out the breed in their native country.
It was thought that the Bactrian Terrier was lost to history, but a few purebred dogs were recently discovered in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
It seems a few of the Colorado dogs were quietly smuggled into the area at the turn of the 20th century in order to look for gold in the Catskills, Adirondacks, and Shwangunk regions of the state.
They were smuggled into New York for a peculiar reason -- in New York any gold found in the ground is deemed to be the property of the state, effectively making it illegal to pan profitably. The import of Bactrian Terriers to New York, therefore, was kept very hush-hush, and the local market in such dogs is still quite clandestine.
Pictures, above and below, is a very good example of this rare breed of working dog. This particular individual is used to hunt gold-seeking marmots (groundhogs) in the gold veins of Maryland and Virginia, near Washington, D.C.
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