Wednesday, November 21, 2018

D Brian Plummer - Lone Furrow Documentary

I like Brian Plummer's books, though there is barely a single scrap of useful information in all of them combined.

These are dog stories, and he's a good story teller.

The stories are about dog histories, dog controversies, dogs that work, and the people who live and love all that. Nothing much is useful, but it's all a pretty enjoyable read. 

Is it all perfectly correct?  Not always.  For example, in this video we hear of Plummer's monstrous breeding practices to create the Plummer Terrier, and how Omega was the product of Vampire mated to his own daughter, mated to his own daughter, mated to his own daughter.  Yow! And then we are told that rats brought the plague and "came from Mongolia," which is pretty far from the truth.  The Norwegian or brown rats that Plummer hunts are from the Middle East and North Africa, and it was these rats that drove out the black rat and the black rat flea, which did indeed come from Mongolia. But black rat fleas don't live on brown rats, and black rats were driven out of England by the brown rat over 250 years ago.

There seems to be common agreement that Brian Plummer himself was a little odd. Right. Did I mention he liked dogs? A lot? Yeah, we're all considered odd for that. Let's carry on then, shall we?

Plummer liked to bait others into intemperance, and he was said to lift stories from others and present them as his own.  That's the rumor, but it should be said no one has ever pointed to a solid example of theft or lie. Did I mention he was not universally liked and sometimes baited people who took it personal and slated him for it?  True!

Plummer wrote an entire book under a pseudonym, in which he variously quoted and criticized his own books -- a decidedly odd thing to do, but one I actually admire him for. Dogs are not all cut-and-paste no matter that most dog books are written that way.  Time, experience, and more information can actually inform you about the weakness and the prejudices that underpin positions you might have once held.  Imagine that!

While he was alive, Plummer was drowning in dogs -- Bearded Collies, Alaunts, Lurchers, Plummer Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, fell terriers, and White German Shepherds, to name just a few. He could not possibly have had time to work so many dogs.

Plummer suffered from both depression (a true illness) and very marginal finances, and cranked out Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for cash even as he dabbled in recreating "lost" breeds like the Lucas Terrier and the Alaunt -- breeds that had slid into extinction in generations past because they no longer had a rational reason for existence or preservation. Today Plummer's "Lucas Terrier" is a scruffy show ring or pet dog for the most part, while his "Alaunt" appears to be little more than a variation of the pig-working Pit Bull so common across the American South.

In the end, however, we are left with quite a lot from Brian: Plummer Terriers and Plummer books.

One is a good looking ratting (and sometime dirt) dog, and the other is a recommended read.

Are you new to Brian Plummer's books? I recommend starting here.


LRM said...

Fascinating. There are a number of pet (classic) Lucas Terriers around, but as they aren't recognized by the major kennel clubs, they aren't found in the show ring (except the UK specialty show). Which really is sort of the point. Since their creation by Jocelyn Lucas in the 1940s, recognition by the KC or AKC has not been sought or desired, in keeping with his wishes. And Plummer's Sporting Lucas Terrier is a distinct animal from the breed Lucas created; although the two are conflated all of the web (including the UKC's website, which hosts a weird, combined breed standard that contains much error).

In the 1990s, Plummer sold the Lucas Terrier Club chairwoman a dog represented as a traditional Lucas Terrier--a Norfolk Terrier/Ilmer Sealyham Terrier cross. Problems began when subsequent progeny of this animal didn't resemble Lucases, so much as one of his favorite fell terriers. I know nothing about Plummer the man, but I know that takes real chutzpah. Regrettably, the owners of these pups wanted the classic, little tan Sealyham type, and nothing to do with these "scruffy" interlopers. Now, of course, they are kind of popular, or as popular as the market for an unrecognized dog can be. One might even suggest that, in a way, Plummer was ahead of his time. Now, there are Ilmer Terriers out in the world, thanks to Harry Parsons, pushing the envelope even more. Everybody--even pet owners--is beginning to want them smaller.


Unknown said...

That sled dog bit is priceless