Download for a limited time: Researches into the History of the British Dog, from ancient laws, charters, and historical records. With original anecdotes, and illustrations of the nature and attributes of the dog. From the poets and prose writers of ancient, medieval, and modern times by George R. Jesse
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A French writer has boldly affirmed, that with the exception of women there is nothing on earth so agreeable, or so necessary to the comfort of man, as the dog. This assertion may readily be disputed, but still it will be allowed that man, deprived of the companionship and services of the dog, would be a solitary and, in many respects, a helpless being. Let us look at the shepherd, as the evening closes in and his flock is dispersed over the almost inaccessible heights of mountains; they are speedily collected by his indefatigable dog--nor do his services end here: he guards either the flock or his master's cottage by night, and a slight caress, and the coarsest food, satisfy him for all his trouble. The dog performs the services of a horse in the more northern regions; while in Cuba and some other hot countries, he has been the scourge and terror of the runaway slaves. In the destruction of wild beasts, or the less dangerous stag, or in attacking the bull, the dog has proved himself to possess pre-eminent courage. In many instances he has died in the defence of his master. He has saved him from drowning, warned him of approaching danger, served him faithfully in poverty and distress, and if deprived of sight has gently led him about. When spoken to, he tries to hold conversation with him by the movement of his tail or the expression of his eyes. If his master wants amusement in the field or wood, he is delighted to have an opportunity of procuring it for him; if he finds himself in solitude, his dog will be a cheerful and agreeable companion, and maybe, when death comes, the last to forsake the grave of his beloved master.
There are a thousand little facts connected with dogs, which many, who do not love them as much as I do, may not have observed, but which all tend to develop their character. For instance, every one knows the fondness of dogs for warmth, and that they never appear more contented than when reposing on the rug before a good fire. If, however, I quit the room, my dog leaves his warm berth, and places himself at the door, where he can the better hear my footsteps, and be ready to greet me when I re-enter. If I am preparing to take a walk, my dog is instantly aware of my intention. He frisks and jumps about, and is all eagerness to accompany me. If I am thoughtful or melancholy, he appears to sympathise with me; and, on the contrary, when I am disposed to be merry, he shows by his manner that he rejoices with me. I have often watched the effect which a change in my countenance would produce. If I frown or look severe, but without saying a word or uttering a sound, the effect is instantly seen by the ears dropping, and the eyes showing unhappiness, together with a doubtful movement of the tail. If I afterwards smile and look pleased, the tail wags joyously, the eyes are filled with delight, and the ears even are expressive of happiness. Before a dog, however, arrives at this knowledge of the human countenance, he must be the companion of your walks, repose at your feet, and receive his food from your hands: treated in this manner, the attachment of the dog is unbounded; he becomes fond, intelligent, and grateful. Whenever Stanislas, the unfortunate King of Poland, wrote to his daughter, he always concluded his letter with these words--"Tristan, my companion in misfortune, licks your feet:" thus showing that he had still one friend who stuck to him in his adversity.