Anecdotes of Loyalty and Affection in Terriers by Edward Jesse 1858
Terriers, more than any other breed of dogs, live so much in our rooms, and are so generally our companions during our walks and rides, that they naturally imbibe a great degree of sensibility of the least look or word of their master. This very sensibility makes them extremely jealous of any preference or attention shown by their master to another dog. I had an old terrier who never could bear to see me do this. He showed it not only by his countenance in a remarkable way, but would fall upon any dog be saw me caress. Mons. Blaze gives an instance of a dog having killed a young child, who had been in the habit of fondling a dog belonging to the same owner, and showing fear and dislike of him. Another dog was so strongly attached to his master that he was miserable when he was absent. When the gentleman married, the dog seemed to feel a diminution of affection towards him, and showed great uneasiness. Finding, however, that his new mistress grew fond of him, he became perfectly happy. Somewhat more than a year after this they had a child. There was now a decided inquietude about the dog, and it was impossible to avoid noticing that he felt himself miserable. The attention paid to the child increased his wretchedness; he loathed his food, and nothing could content him, though he was treated on this account with the utmost tenderness. At last he hid himself in the coal-cellar, and every means were used to induce him to return, but all in vain. He was deaf to entreaty, rejected all kindness, refused to eat, and continued firm in his resolution, till exhausted nature yielded to death.
I have seen so much of the sensitiveness and jealousy of dogs, owing to their unbounded affection for their masters, that I cannot doubt the truth of this anecdote, which was related by Mr. Dibdin. A lady had a favourite terrier, whose jealousy of any attentions shown to her by strangers was so great, that in her walks he guarded her with the utmost care, and would not suffer any one to touch her. The following anecdote will prove the unchanging affection of these dogs. It was communicated to me by the best and most amiable man I have ever met with, either in public or private life.
He had a small terrier, which was much attached to him. On leaving this country for America, he placed the dog under the care of his sister, who resided in London. The dog at first was inconsolable, and could scarcely be persuaded to eat anything. At the end of three years his owner returned, and upon knocking at the door of his sister's house, the dog recognised the well-known knock, ran down-stairs with the utmost eagerness, fondled his master with the greatest affection; and when he was in the sitting-room, the faithful animal jumped upon the piano-forte, that he might get as near to him as possible. The dog's attachment remained to the last moment of his life. He was taken ill, and was placed in his master's dressing-room on one of his cloaks. "When he could scarcely move, his kind protector met him endeavouring to crawl to him up the stairs. He took the dog in his arms, placed him on his cloak, when the dog gave him a look of affection which could not he mistaken, and immediately died. There can, I think, be no doubt but that this affectionate animal, in his endeavour to get up the steps to his master, was influenced by sensations of love and gratitude, which death alone could extinguish, and which the approach of death prompted him to show. How charming are these instances of the affection of dogs to a kind master! and how forcibly may we draw forth the strongest testimonials of love from them, by treating them as they deserve to be treated! Few people sufficiently appreciate the attachment, fidelity, and sagacity of these too often persecuted animals, or are aware how much they suffer from unkindness or harsh treatment.
The following affords proof of the sagacity of these dogs as well:—
A respectable farmer, residing in a village near Gosport, had a terrier dog who was his constant companion. His business frequently led him across the water to Portsmouth, to which place the dog regularly attended him. The farmer had a son-in-law, a bookseller at Portsmouth, to whose house he frequently went, taking the dog with him. One day, the animal having lost his master in Portsmouth, after searching for him at his usual haunts, went to the bookseller, and by various gesticulations gave him to understand that he had lost his master; his supplications were not in vain, for the bookseller, who understood his language, immediately called his boy, gave him a penny, and ordered him to go directly to the beach, and give the ferryman the money for his passage to the opposite shore. The dog, who seemed to understand the whole proceeding, was much pleased, and jumped directly into the boat, and when landed at Gosport, immediately ran home. He always afterwards went to the bookseller, if he had lost his master at Portsmouth, feeling sure that his boat-hire would be paid, and which was always done.
The same dog, when he was wet or dirty, would go into the barn till he was clean and dry, and then scratch at the parlour-door for admittance.
The Rev. Leonard Jenyns, in his "Observations in Natural History," records the following.—
"A lady, [Mrs Grosvenor] living in the neighbourhood of my own village, had some years back a favourite Scotch terrier, which always accompanied her in her rides, and was also in the habit of following the carriage to church every Sunday morning. One summer the lady and her family were from home several weeks, the dog being left behind. The latter, however, continued to come to church by itself for several Sundays in succession, galloping off from the house at the accustomed hour, so as to arrive at the time of service commencing. After waiting in the churchyard a short time, it was seen to return home quiet and dispirited. The distance from the house to the church is three miles, and beyond that at which the ringing of the bells could be ordinarily heard. This was probably an instance of the force of habit, assisted by some association of recollections connected with the movements of the household on that particular day of the week."
An old house being under repair, the bells on the ground-floor were taken down. The mistress of the house had an old favourite terrier, and when she wanted her servants, sent the dog to ring the bell in her dressing-room, having previously attached a bit of wood to the bell-rope. When the dog pulled at the rope, he listened, and if the bell did not ring, he pulled till he heard it, and then returned to the room he had left. If a piece of paper were put into his mouth, with a message written on it, he would carry it to the person he was told to go to, and waited to bring back the answer.
Mr. Laing, who was steward to General Sharp, of Houston, near Uphall, had a terrier dog which gave many proofs of his sagacity. Upon one occasion his wife lent a white petticoat to a neighbour in which to attend a christening; the dog observed his mistress make the loan, followed the woman home who borrowed the article, never quitted her, but accompanied her to the christening, and leaped several times on her knee: nor did he lose sight of her till the piece of dress was at last fairly restored to Mrs. Laing. During the time this person was at the christening she was much afraid the dog would attempt to tear the petticoat off her, as she well knew the object of his attendance.
One of the most extraordinary terriers I ever met with belonged to a man named T____y, well known for many years in the neighbourhood of Hampton Court. The father of this man had been in a respectable way of life, but his son wanted steadiness of character, and, indeed, good conduct, and had it not been for the kindness of his late Majesty, King William the Fourth, he would have been reduced to poverty long before he was. T____y, through the interest of the king, then Duke of Clarence, was tried in several situations, but failed in them all. At last he was made a postman, but was found drunk one evening with all his letters scattered about him, and, of course, lost his situation. He then took up the employment of ratcatcher, for which perhaps, he was better qualified than any other. His stock-in-trade consisted of some ferrets and an old terrier dog, and a more extraordinary dog was seldom seen. He was rough, rather strongly made, and of a sort of cinnamon colour, having only one eye; his appearanee being in direct contrast to what Bewick designates the genteel terrier. The other eye had a fluid constantly exuding from it, which made a sort of furrow down the side of his cheek. He always kept close to the heels of his master, hanging down his head, and appearing the personification of misery and wretchedness. He was, however, a wonderful vermin-killer, and wherever his master placed him, there he remained, waiting with the utmost patience and resignation till an unfortunate rat bolted from the hole, which he instantly killed in a most philosophical manner. The poor dog had to undergo the vicissitudes of hard fare, amounting almost to starvation, of cold, rain, and other evils, but still he was always to be seen at his master's feet, and his fidelity to him was unshaken. No notice, no kind word, seemed to have any effect upon him if offered by a stranger, but he obeyed and understood the slightest signal from his owner. This man was an habitual drunkard, at least whenever he could procure the means of becoming one. It was a cold, frosty night in November, when T____y was returning from a favourite alehouse, along one of the Thames Ditton lanes, some of which, owing to the flatness of the country, have deep ditches by their sides. Into one of these the unfortunate man staggered in a fit of brutal intoxication, and was drowned. When the body was discovered the next morning, the dog was seen using his best endeavours to drag it out of the ditch. He had probably been employed all night in this attempt, and in his efforts had torn the coat from the shoulders of his master. It should be mentioned that this faithful animal had saved his master's life on two former occasions, when he was in nearly similar circumstances.
It may interest some of the readers of this little story to be informed, that a few years before the event which has been related took place, the unhappy man's wife died, leaving four very young children. She was a most industrious woman, of excellent character, and her great misery on her death-bed was the reflection that these children-—two boys and two girls—-would be left to the care of her drunken husband. She was comforted, however, in her dying moments, by one whose heart and hand have always been ready to relieve the distressed, with the assurance that her children should be taken care of. So when the excellent Queen Adelaide heard of the circumstance, she immediately sent for the four children, placed them under the charge of a proper person, educated and maintained them, placed them in respectable situations in life, and continued to be their friend till her death. This is one of numerous instances which could be related by the author of her Majesty's silent, but unbounded benevolence.