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MODERN DOGS OF GREAT BRITAIN.
MANY of the varieties of the terrier we possess at the present time, as a group the most popular of the canine race, are of quite modern origin, although no doubt there was a dog of similar appearance to the terrier co-existent with the original dog, whatever the latter may have been.
Our earliest writers on the subject have acknowledged the terrier, an animal so named because it was occasionally employed underground in the earth, to force the fox, badger, and otter from their lairs, and it has been said to have been used for the purpose of driving rabbits from their burrows, in the manner ferrets do at the present time. The bolting of rabbits is, no doubt, a fable, and, although we now have terriers more diminutive than any that were kept three or four centuries ago,
they are not sufficiently small to do the work of a ferret or of a mongoose.
The original terrier was used as an assistant to hounds and to destroy the rats and weasels and foulmarts which infested the country, when it was less highly cultivated than is the case at present.
One of the earliest illustrations of the terrier is given in Strutt's “Sports and Pastimes.” This is an engraving, from a fourteenth century MS., which represents a dog, assisted by three men with spades, engaged in unearthing a fox. The colour of the dog is not ascertainable, nor can I make sure that it has been underground, for the fox is only in part out of the hole, and the terrier is springing on to his prey from a little rising ground immediately behind. Possibly a second terrier is out of sight in the earth. Two of the hunters are in the act of digging, whilst the third is vigorously blowing a horn.
a horn. It may be interesting to state that in the original engraving this terrier possesses a long, narrow head, not unlike that of the greyhound in shape, his tail is long and uncut, he is smooth-coated, and has erect ears. Blaine in his “Rural Sports ” reproduces the picture, and, with a liberty that is quite inexcusable, converts the terrier into a wire-haired or long-coated one, white in colour, and with a dark patch over one
eye. He also attempts to make the original manuscript of greater antiquity than is actually the case, by describing the picture as Saxons bolting a fox.”
I have no doubt this terrier record the learned Strutt has given us is the oldest upon which any reliance can be placed, so far as this country is concerned. Some may say that the dog given is not a terrier, but I believe it is intended to represent such a terrier as might be the common dog at that time. It is little bigger than the fox upon which it would like to seize, and the general surroundings of the quaint picture are altogether in favour of my supposition.
Later than this, Dr. Caius, at the instigation of Gesner, wrote the book on English Dogs," which, being translated from the Latin, was in 1576 published, this being the first book in English concerning dogs. Of the terrier, Dr. Caius says there is one " which hunteth the Fox and the Badger or Greye onely, whom we call Terrars, because they (after the manner and custome of ferrets in searching for Connyes) creep into the grounde, and by that meanes make afrayde, nyppe and bite the Foxe and the Badger in such sorte that eyther they teare them in pieces with theyr teeth, beying in the bosome of the earth,