Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Notes and Notions: Forest and Stream v. 36, 1891

A distinct gain to kennel Interests everywhere is the return of Mr Vero Shaw to kennel matters in his papers contributed to the London Stock-Keeper. We are too apt rush ahead on our own abstract notions, relying on our intuition (if on anything) for the safety and wisdom of courses, and that there is such a thing as experience, or it can guide us, is almost lost and forgotten, and the recital of the experiences of as old a hand in "fancy" as Mr Shaw, should open our eyes to a good many things. The last suggestion of his that has impressed itself upon me as of importance is that of the great value of the professional dog breeder to dogs at large. This is worth taking home and thinking over. It is all very well to prate about "gentlemen" and gentlemanly dealings, and abstractly there is something in it, but in practical application, the man who breeds and sells dogs as a business is apt to breed better ones than the gentleman who does it as a diversion, and not uncommonly the gentleman who goes into breeding as au amusement finally gets to be as commercial as anybody. I am not aspersing the character of our gentleman breeders, their personal characters need no defense, but certainly they cannot and will not breed with the practical skill of the professional, and it should not be lost sight of, that many of the revivers, almost creators of breeds, bred professionally for the money to be made out of it. The Yorkshire terrier owes his development and his wonderful variation from his original stock almost wholly to English workingmen, whose wives and daughters expended the time on their coats that has made them such marvels. The whippet is as well defined a breed, and as far as my observation goes, breeds as true as any breed, and they owe their existence to the same class of English workingmen. In fact, but a few years since, whippet racing was looked upon as a shady diversion, both here and in England, and entirely on account of the men fostering it.

The world moves nowadays, and men who are fond of excitement have begun to interest themselves in this little racer, and surely we have a precedent for the better class sportsmen to take this sport up, when we remember fox terrier coursing, which has been aptly named a "bastard" sport, finds its most strenuous supporters on the other side among the same class of men who foster whippet racing. Fox-terrier coursing on Long Island has received stamp of fashion, then why should not the harmless amusement of whippet racing afford the same excitement to our leisure class that horse racing does, with this advantage, that the most squeamish person can find nothing in it to oppose on the score of cruelty.

Forest and Stream v. 36
By Charles Hallock, William A. Bruette
Feb. 1891 - July 1891

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