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A Word About Dogs

Scary Books: Scottish Ghost Stories

We always loved a dog; and it almost broke our little heart, when but a trudging schoolboy, in our first jacket-and-trowsers, our kind mother made us take back the young puppy that had hardly got its eyes open, which we one day brought home, to be kept until it was fit to be taken from its natural nurse. We are now among the boys, John, Tom, and Harry; and intend to give them the benefit of our own experience in this line, as well as to say a few words to the elder brothers,—and fathers, even,
€”if they do not turn up their noses in contempt of our instruction, on a subject so much beneath their notice.

We say that we love dogs: not all dogs, however. But we love some dogs—of the right breeds. There 375 is probably no other civilized country so dog-ridden as this, both in

Mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,

And curs of low degree.

Goldsmith, kind man that he was, must have been a capital judge of dogs, like many other poetical gentlemen. Still, other men than poets are sometimes good judges, and great lovers of dogs; but the mass of people are quite as well satisfied with one kind of dog as with another, so that it be a dog; and they too often indulge in their companionship, much to the annoyance of good neighborhood, good morals, and, indeed, of propriety, thrift, and common justice. Of all these we have nothing to say—here, at least. Ours is a free country—for dogs, if for nothing else. Nor shall we discuss the various qualities, or the different breeds of dogs for sporting purposes. We never go out shooting; nor do we take a hunt—having no taste that way. Perhaps in this we are to be pitied; but we are content as it is. Therefore we shall let the hounds, and pointers, and setters, the springers, and the land and the water spaniels, all alone. The mastiffs, and the bull dogs, too, we shall leave to those who like them. The poodle, and the little lap-dog of other kinds, also, we shall turn over to the kindness of those who—we are sorry for them, in having nothing better to interest themselves about—take a pleasure in keeping and tending them.

We want to mix in a little usefulness, as well as amusement, in the way of a dog; and after a whole life, thus far, of dog companionship, and the trial of 376 pretty much every thing in the line of a dog—from the great Newfoundland, of a hundred pounds weight, down to the squeaking little whiffet, of six—we have, for many years past, settled down into the practical belief that the small ratting terrier is the only one, except the shepherd dog, we care to keep; and of these, chiefly, we shall speak.

There are many varieties of the Terrier. Some are large, weighing forty or fifty pounds, rough-haired, and savage looking. There is the bull-terrier, of less size, not a kindly, well-disposed creature to strangers; but irascibly inclined, and unamiable in his deportment; still useful as a watch-dog, and a determined enemy to all vermin, whatever. Then, again, are the small rat-terriers, as they are termed, weighing from a dozen to twenty pounds; some with rough, long, wiry hair; a fierce, whiskered muzzle; of prodigious strength for their size; wonderful instinct and sagacity; kind in temper; and possessing valuable qualities, bating a lack of beauty in appearance. They are of all colors, but are generally uniform in their color, whatever it be. Another kind, still, is the smooth terrier, of the same sizes as the last; a very pretty dog indeed; with a kinder disposition to mankind; yet equally destructive to vermin, and watchful to the premises which they inhabit, or of whatever else is put under their charge. The fidelity of the terrier to his master is wonderful; equal, if not superior to any other dog whatever. In courage and perseverance, in hardihood, and feats of daring, he has hardly an equal; and in general usefulness, no dog can compare with him.