« ForrigeFortsett »
that wolf! But I can't hold these men much longer, so I promised to go after him the day after to-morrow."
(Two days later.)“Dear Doctor-Last night, or rather just before daylight, we heard the wolf in the sheep-corral, and went out to scare him away. He had already killed one sheep and eaten of it freely. At daylight myself and three club members took four of the dogs (Oscar and Meta being still too sore to work) and started after the big fellow. We followed him for at least ten miles before we could show him to the dogs. They went to him very quickly, he depending more on his fighting than running qualities. Colonel and Dan reached him first, and struck him with such force that he went down-never to get up again. They killed him in a short time, and neither of the dogs got a scratch. The Colonel took his old hold at the throat, and never let go until I choked him off. Colonel, you know, is just 30 inches high at the shoulder. We stood this wolf up beside Colonel, and he was just one inch taller than the dog. We brought the wolf home to see what he weighed, and he tipped the beam at 107 lbs. To say the club members were delighted at the dogs is putting it too mild. They were simply crazed. The country is alive with wolves and other game.”
During that season Mr. Porter killed 148 grey wolves and over 300 cayottes. Amongst many letters extolling the wonderful courage of these grand dogs, the following shows what six dogs, well trained to their work, can do:-
“Dear Doctor—To-day I suddenly came upon a pack of fifteen full-grown wolves. I had all six dogs with me, and they were in good form. I was satisfied that unless we did good work, and that quickly, the wolves would kill the dogs. So I jumped amongst them, and as soon as the dogs got one wolf down I stuck my knife into its heart. In this way we killed twelve out of the fifteen ; but I am sorry to say that poor, old, faithful, courageous Dan was killed."
If a tale of derring-do like this does not delight the heart of all deerhound-fanciers, they are hard to please ! I know not which to admire most—the daring of the deerhounds or the prowess, so modestly related, of Mr. Porter.
Turning now to the twentieth century deerhound, I have received the following review of the breed from Mr. Hood-Wright, a learned judge of the fancy, the
breeder and exhibitor of two of the most successful hounds of modern days, and the Honorary Secretary of the Deerhound Club :
It is a pity that the raison d'être of the deerhound, or (as I prefer to hear it called) the Scottish staghound, has vanished. Owing to the subdivision of deer forests, the law that a wounded stag cannot be followed and killed on another man's ground, and last, though by no means least, the use of explosive bullets, that seldom leave a stricken quarry the ability to run away, the deerhound is now scarcely ever entered to his proper sphere of sport, and but very few of the owners or renters of deer forests keep it, or would know the use of it if they did. Thus it happens that the deerhound has come to be kept entirely as a companion or guard in this country, and I dare assert there are more deerhounds kept within a radius of twenty or thirty miles of Birmingham than throughout the whole of Scotland. I am no bigot; there are very few breeds of dogs, especially big dogs, that I have not kept, bred, and shown ; but I must say for a good, honest, all-round pal the deerhound comes first in my opinion. The most remarkable thing about the breed is that it has not become more popular, for considering the numbers that were shown thirty odd years ago and at the present time, they have increased very little, and improved nothing. There were as good, if not better, dogs then than there are now, although at the present time there are more and better bitches. I suppose one reason is that they are not easy to rear, a great percentage dying from distemper-caused, no doubt, by in-breeding. I have tried getting a fresh strain froni the Highlands, but the result has been coarse, thick skulls, want of size, and light eyes-a fault I detest. Again, I have used a bitch bred by Her Grace the Duchess of Wellington, a cross between the Lochiel strain and the celebrated borzoi Ch. Krilutt, which I considered the most perfectly built dog of any breed of his time. This has been more satisfactory, and the whelps, with one-eighth borzoi blood in them, did not show the slightest trace of, and less white than in the ordinary deerhound. Another reason of the deerhound's lack of popularity may be traced, I fancy, to its gaunt and rugged appearance. I suppose it is an acquired taste, but in the eyes of the deerhound-fancier and artist nothing comes up to this breed in point of beauty and symmetry. Of course exceptions prove the rule ; but I have found them most free from vice of any kind--Splendid followers of either bike or carriage, good guards for ladies; and although the quietest dogs living, there are none a tramp has a greater horror of; and if you have a deerhound loose about your place you will be free from the visits of these undesirable gentry.
Deerhounds are especially good followers of the horse, and become almost as much attached to it as to its master; and they will wait, without being shut up, beside a horse. I can drive to any strange town with three dogs following, and leave them unattended for hours, certain to find them where I left them when it is time to go.
Although very intelligent, deerhounds do not pick up tricks like Great Danes, poodles, etc. But they are very acute. As an instance, we have one whose dam died when he was a tiny puppy, and he was brought up entirely in the kitchen ; consequently, very much spoiled. One day I caught his lordship chasing the Alderney cow, so I corrected him with a new whip. The whip disappeared, and was found some days after under a piece of carpet in Master Glen's box.
Of course there is not such a thing as perfection in deerhounds, and they require watching and checking, as their natural instinct makes them inclined to chase all animals. But being firm once or twice with them soon breaks them of any bad habit. In fact no breed is easier taught command.
In conjunction with an old friend, Mr. Hickman of Birmingham, I drew up the points and description of the deerhound years ago; and at the present time I do not see where I can make any alteration with a view to improvement.
I have received the following criticisms of presentday type and general observations on the breed :
DR. LYCETT BURD.-I feel strongly that we are getting the deerhound too big, and consequently that they tend towards coarseness, and are lacking in true deerhound character and expression, which should be essentially aristocratic, gentle, and full of quality. With increase of size we are also, in some degree, losing activity and grace of movement- due partly to the prevalence of small, ill-shaped cow-hocks and straight stifles. I think the values of the points wrong in several particulars—e.g., too much is given to height, feet, and tail, whilst 2 for nails is absurd. Too little is given for substance and girth, and to give the same value practically for tail as for eyes appears to me wrong. I should assign the values thus :—Head, 10; ears, 4 ; beard, 3 ; eyes, 8 ; coat, 8; neck, 8 ; tail, 2 ; nails, I ; teeth, 7;
height, 7; girth, 10; length and symmetry of body, 9; loins and hocks, 10; fore legs, 8; and feet 5—total, 100.
MRS. M'INTYRE.—The deerhound seems to me to be getting more of the wolf-hound type- too big and clumsy, with heavy heads. If owners would breed for quality instead of size it would help to improve the breed. A deerhound should be bred for speed, and therefore should be graceful and elegant. The one idea now appears to be to breed for size, and in so doing the elegance is lost, and they are far too heavy to show much speed. I have kept both deerhounds and borzois ; the former I much prefer, both for looks and affection ; I find them so unselfish, whereas the borzoi always thinks of itself first, and so long as it is happy and comfortable cares nothing for any one else. But unfortunately I find the deerhounds harder to rear than borzois, so I have very few in my kennels. I think the deerhound the most faithful and almost the most intelligent dog there is, and, as a general rule, it is most unselfish.
MRS. H. ARMSTRONG. — The type of the breed to-day is inclined to become too large and coarse, leaning to that of the Irish wolf-hound. In my opinion a deerhound standing 30 inches at shoulder is quite big enough ; and with this size the quality and refinement so essential to the breed are more readily obtained. A deerhound, for his size, is perhaps the most gentle of all breeds. Remarkably faithful and affectionate, easily trained, and most obedient; intelligent, as a rule, and quiet and not easily exciteable, as some breeds are.
MR. HOOD-WRIGHT.-There has been no improvement during the last forty years, nor yet deterioration ; but no doubt in-breeding has made them much more difficult to rear than they were a score of years ago. They are the most refined and best pals of any of the big breeds, having the cuteness of disposition of the collie, without being treacherous. They easily adapt themselves as household pets, and do not take up more room than a collie.
MRS. BEDWELL. — I am not satisfied with modern type, except in a very few specimens. Prizes are given to great, coarse giants, with no true deerhound character about them. The breed is being ruined by crossing the deerhound with the borzoi and Irish wolf-hound. The over-long, badly-shaped heads of the present day are truly appalling. If judged by the points as laid down by the club, deerhounds would soon improve and the bad specimens be weeded out. But judges appear to differ so greatly in what they consider the true type that it is quite hopeless to try
and breed dogs to please all. I consider the deerhound, if a true deerhound, the most elegant and graceful of any breed of dog, and as a sporting companion it cannot be surpassed. It is most intelligent, wonderfully docile, and a clean house-guard.
The Deerhound Club's publication (which appears in a tartan cover that is redolent of north of the Tweed) shows it to be a remarkably flourishing institution of nearly fifty members, with a very strong committee, and Mr. Hood-Wright for Honorary Secretary. The subscription is a guinea per annum. The club owns a couple of fifteen-guinea pieces of challenge plate for the best dog and best bitch in the breed, and is generous in its apportionment of special prizes in the pleasing form of silver medals. It has a very full list of sixteen specialist judges. The following are the points of the breed as adopted by the club :
STANDARD OF POINTS OF THE SCOTTISH DEERHOUND
HEAD.-Should be broadest at the ears, tapering slightly to the eyes, with the muzzle tapering more decidedly to the nose. The muzzle should be pointed, but the teeth and lips level. The head should be rather long, the skull flat rather than round, with a very slight rise over the eyes, but nothing approaching a stop. The skull should be coated with moderately long hair, which is softer than the rest of the coat. The nose should be black, though in some blue-fawns the colour is blue, and slightly aquiline. In the lighter-coloured dogs a black muzzle is preferred. There should be a good moustache of rather silky hair, and a fair beard..
Ears. Should be set on high, and, in repose, folded back like the greyhound's, though raised above the head in excitement, without losing the fold, and even in some cases semi-erect. A prick ear is bad. A big, thick ear, hanging fat to the head, or heavily coated with long hair, is the worst of faults. The ear should be soft and glossy, and like a mouse's coat to the touch, and the smaller it is the better. It should have no long coat or long fringe, but there is often a silky, silvery coat on the body of the ear and the tip. Whatever the general colour, the ears should be black or dark-coloured.
NECK AND SHOULDERS.—The neck should be long-that is, of the length that befits the greyhound character of the dog. An over-long neck is not necessary or desirable, for the dog is not required to stoop to his work like the greyhound, and it must be remembered that the mane, which every good specimen should have, detracts from the apparent length of the neck. Moreover, a deerhound requires a very strong neck to hold a stag. The nape of the neck should be very prominent where the head is