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Marlborough House, where their Royal Highnesses complimented him for the action he had taken in the matter in trying to save the life of the poor creature. These dogs of Mr. Pratt's were for the most part drop-eared specimens, had hard coats, not too profuse, and when shown won pretty well all before them on the show bench, and I do not think we have better terriers than his at the present time. Some time later Mr. Pratt was honoured by several interviews with the Queen, whose partiality for Skye terriers and, indeed for other dogs, was well-known as one of the many favourable traits in Her Majesty's character, who graciously accepted one of Mr. Pratt's best dogs, which for many years was the most favoured, as he was certainly the most valuable, animal in the kennels at Windsor.
These Skye terriers of Mr. Pratt's included the strains from the Duke of Argyll ; Mackinnon's, of Cory ; Cameron's, of Lochiel, and from the Lord Macdonald's kennels.
Skye terriers were included in the first volume of the Kennel Club Stud Book, and the best of the early dogs were such as Mr. Pratt showed, including Dunvegan, Gillie, and others; Mr. J. Bowman's (Darlington), Dandie ; Mr. Russell England's Laddie; and Mr. Macdona's Rook. Mr. A. Boulton, of Accrington, and Mr. M. Gretton, Hull, about the
same time showed some excellent specimens. Mr. D. Pattison, then of Lancaster, had a first-class dog called Tar, and some others; whilst Mr. D. W. Fyfe, of the same town, has from time to time owned excellent specimens, a fawn dog of his called, I believe, Novelty, being particularly choice. Indeed, this was the best dog of the colour I have seen for some time. It seems the fawn-coloured specimens are gradually becoming extinct, for no reason whatever; so far as beauty is concerned, they are handsomer than the dark greys, which approach almost to blackness. All other points being equal, I would rather have a fawn-coloured Skye terrier, or a light grey or blue one, than one of the darker hue, which some judges prefer to all others. I think the clubs might do a little in this matter of colour.
A few years ago a majority of the Skye terriers had drop ears; now we find the erect ears the more popular, and why the former have been almost displaced is one of those things which no one can understand. Perhaps it is accident, perhaps a freak of the fancy. As we are now, nine judges out of ten would give the preference to a dog with erect ears, but at shows where a complete classification is provided, the two varieties compete separately, and I need scarcely say that such as have drop ears
appear in fewer numbers than is the case with the more popular cousin. Jack is as good as his master, one form of ear is as good as the other, and each should be on an equal footing. I know this opinion is not held by Scottish fanciers who have only terriers with erect ears in their kennels; still, even at the risk of offending them, I asked Mr. Wardle to sketch one of each variety, and how he has done so his illustrations are given in evidence.
There are two Skye Terrier Clubs, one for Scotland, the other for England, but neither appears to be doing much towards the popularisation of the breed. Indeed, one leading exhibitor has resigned his membership from both on account of the type of dog they appear to favour, which he thinks ought to be called the Edinburgh terrier rather than the cognomen he does bear.
Be this, however, as it may, the classes for Skye terriers are, as a rule, fairly well filled at our shows, whatever difference of opinion may be rife as to the value and excellence of such animals as appear in the prize lists. Still, the number nowadays does not reach such a total as was the case at a London show in 1862, when there were fifty-one entries, 'and although recent Scottish shows have had a favourable return, the average per class is not equal to what it used to be before there were so many sub-divisions.
Desiring to give as comprehensive an idea as possible as to the Skye terrier, in addition to my own opinion I have the pleasure of publishing the following from the Rev. D. Dobbie, honorary secretary to the Skye Terrier Club for Scotland but at the same time I do not endorse all his opinions, especially where he alludes to a broad, massive chest and shoulders :
“ Although the description and points of the Skye terrier are as distinctly defined and as extensively agreed upon as those of any breed of dogs, yet the specimens exhibited on the show bench and the awards there made are frequently more inconsistent with the recognised standard, and more conflicting with each other than in the case of any other breed.
"To estimate the importance of such detailed description and points as are given at the end of this chapter, it is necessary to bear in mind the position of this dog in the sporting world. He forms the connecting link between the ferret, weasel, &c., and the canine race. He takes up the work of the former, and carries it beyond what they are able to accomplish. His formation, therefore, more largely corresponds to them than does that of any other breed. His function is to take to earth, and to bolt from their burrows, cairns, crevices, &c., the vermin which infest them. For
this purpose his primary qualifications are small size, low set, great length of body, and exceptional strength of head and fore quarters—fitting him to enter, to perform his task, and to extricate himself where others differently formed would fail. His coat, too, of hard, lanky hair-sufficiently long (averaging 52in.) to cover head, eyes, and body, but not so long as to impede him in his work—serves as protection against weather and foes. While the undercoat gives warmth, the overcoat serves like the thatch of a cottage—to carry off the rain ; and I have seen the hair of the forehead torn, the flesh lacerated, and the blood flowing over the face in encounters with vermin on the Tweedside, when I fully expected to find my dog blind, but I have never seen the eyesight injured.
But, instead of a dog possessed of these qualifications, we often find on the show bench and in the prize list a spurious counterfeit, large, leggy, and short-bodied, with weak head, jaw, and chest, and covered with an inordinate length of soft, flowing hair.
By such the typical Skye terrier is largely displaced by many breeders and judges.
“ The explanation of this to a large extent is not difficult. A number of years ago--but still within the memory of many living—a fierce conflict raged in England and in Scotland as to what constituted