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France swarms with chasseurs; hence, it may be readily imagined that several persons in each locality gain their living by instructing dogs in this particular. In several French towns where I have resided there were three or four persons who devoted their time and ingenuity, " a faire dresser les chiens a bien rapporter a terre et a l'eau." The price for this instruction, when completed, was 50 francs, or 21., besides 5 or 6 francs a month pour la nourriture. A dog can be taught to bring by land at any season of the year, but to bring from the water the summer is the only suitable time. It requires about two months to complete a dog's education in both qualifications. A good hand will break half a dozen dogs in the same period of time but not more, as he must devote two hours a day to each dog.
I have made use of the term chien d'arret, which literally means pointer, but is applied in France to all dogs that point their game: it would have been a misnomer, in our sense of the word, to have made use of the term pointer, as we understand by it a particular breed of dog, whereas the chien d'arret of France is almost a nondescript. It is true he points ; but he embodies and combines every species of dog, and it is difficult to say to which breed he bears the closest resemblance and affinity,—something of the chien griffon, pointer, sheep-dog, setter, and poodle being occasionally discernible. Some few French gentlemen chasseurs, who are particular as to their dogs, have English pointers and setters, but les bourgeois, who form the greater portion of the French sporting community, possess this mixed race of dog.
To point game is, however, in the chasseur's estimation, a secondary consideration to the fetching and carrying perfectly,—as these dogs are valuable for the winter's sport, being used for duckshooting, and, from being taught with the spike collar, never refuse water in the coldest weather.
The next virtue in the chien d'arret is speed; one, therefore, that can catch a wounded hare by chasing, however long he may be absent, is considered invaluable: hence every dog of this description is taught to chase, especially hares, and "down charge" is an unknown virtue.
On my first going to France many years since, having taken up my abode in a part of the country suitable for sporting, I was desirous of purchasing a dog or two, to commence operations. A Frenchman brought me one for trial, which he stated to be a chien d'arret de la premiere qualite. The dog appeared to combine the three breeds of pointer, setter, and sheep-dog, and was very long in the legs; he had been dresse for both Varret et le rapport. We went out into the open country in quest of game, to put the dog's virtues
to the test: he worked tolerably well, but I thought him rather slow, and made this remark to the owner. His reply was, "attendez un moment, Monsieur, je vous en prie, jusqu'a nous trouvons un lievre, et vous verrez s'il peut courir ou non." We very soon found a hare, and the chien (Tarret did certainly surprise me by his speed, and was soon out of sight, the Frenchman continually exclaiming, "vous voyez a present." He however returned in about ten minutes, when the Frenchman remarked that if the hare had only been a trois quart, instead of an old one, the dog would certainly have caught it and brought it back; and he appeared delighted at the opportunity which had occurred of the dog's giving proof of this valuable qualification. He was, however, rather surprised, when I told him that a pointer in England would either be shot or hung who acted in this manner. This dog, however, pointed remarkably well, and was very good at snipes, which abounded. I therefore purchased him for the sum asked, sixty francs, and found him very useful,—his chasing propensities not being very detrimental to my sport, as hares were very scarce; and I stopped him from chasing birds by giving him a small dose of snipe shot when in flagrante delicto, and I have seldom found this remedy fail, a second dose being rarely necessary: of course care must be taken never to shoot at a dog obliquely, but when he is proceeding directly from you, so as to hit him in the hind quarters, and with small shot, at about sixty yards. I must now return from this short digression to the method of instruction adopted pour le rapport.
The dog-breakers like the dogs to be about ten or eleven months old before they commence instructing them. The man in the first instance makes the dog thoroughly acquainted with him, and leads him about with the spike collar on for several days before he gives him one lesson. There are two cords to this collar, — one to lead the dog by, the other to inflict punishment, when necessary, by tightening the collar, by which operation the spikes are forced into the dog's neck. The man is provided with a piece of wood about 9 or 10 inches in length, and 6 inches in circumference, round like a rolling-pin, with two small pegs through each end, crossing one another, and projecting about an inch, so that the round part does not touch the ground when the ensemble is thrown down, thereby admitting of being easily taken up by the dog's teeth when he is disposed to do so. The first lesson consists in placing this piece of wood in the dog's mouth, the cord from the collar being brought round it in such a manner that he cannot easily eject it from his mouth; but on every occasion, of his making the attempt, he receives a sharp jerk from
the collar, and if the wood has fallen, it is replaced, and the man leads the dog about with it in his mouth.
After having taught him to carry this implement about without attempting to drop it, he next places it on the ground, and endeavours to make him pick it up. To accomplish this the dog receives a considerable quantity of severe pricks with the collar, and the man's patience and assiduity are put to the test: but, after succeeding in this point, the progress is more easy and rapid; the implement is first thrown a short distance, the interval being gradually increased, — the dog's energy, activity, and disposition to obey being constantly stimulated with the spike collar. At first he obeys with reluctance, but subsequently with alacrity, from fear of punishment, as a moment's hesitation is rewarded with an instantaneous jerk of the collar; and this correction is invariably administered to all dogs who hesitate in picking up the bit of wood, or who, after having secured it, do not instantly return. The advantage of this well-timed punishment is found subsequently in a dog's never mouthing or dwelling upon his game after he has picked it up, but returning instantly,—the impression never being effaced.
I had several English setters of a first-rate breed, broken by one man, — and they all brought their game perfectly, without even disturbing a feather, N