Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 27, 1976 · Page 100
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 100

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 27, 1976
Page 100
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Page 100 article text (OCR)

Scottish Terrier was bred to be a miniature fighting machine, and he's still that, but his popularity is now strangely diminishing. By Paul Akers In his cic.y. alone and unaided, ho laced the bared, deadly tangs of fox. otter, s i o a t . b a d g e r -- e v e n wildcat--waging his silent, mortal f i g h t in the very l a i r of his t o e . underground or within the crevices nl the highland cairns. And usually he won. either killing his quarry mil right or dragging it from its den into the reach of waiting huntsmen. And when he did not win. he died. But today, c l e a r l y , is not the Scoltist terrier's, when a f i c k l e public taste in dogs threatens the indomitable Scottie far more gravely than did the most savage of his wild antagonists of yesteryear. Indeed. American Kennel Club ( A K C ) registration figures for 1975 show that the Scottish terrier--in 1940 one of the five most popular dogs in the country--has plunged to 34th in the canine ratings. And, what's more, the attrition shows no signs of slackening; in 1975 only 7.380 of the breed were registered with.the club--down 1.420 from the previous yean. Xtnti- \1(i!azin: -h/ni'27. lf7ll. Courageous Scot Are there really 33 better breeds ofdogtharitheScoltie' Poodles paced all dogs in 1975 AKC registrations, and Mrs. Donna Hill, owner-operator of the Village Pet Shop in K a n a w h a City affirmed: , "I could sell 10 Poodles i n a week, hut I could never sell Id Scutt i e s in a week." But she a d d e d . "Once somebody buys a Scottie. they'll never have a n y t h i n g else. W it'll some dogs, t h a t isn't so." Like Mrs. Hill, Olora Murdico of flora's Pet Shop of St. Albans. says she receives Scottie litters only a few times a year. ··Usually a litter is gone in two or three days." Mrs. Murdico said. noting that her Scotties come from the Midwest because there are no local breeders of the dog. Historically, terriers were bred by the poor. "country people of the British Isles to rid their meager f a r m s of e n c r o a c h i n g v e r m i n . Hounds proved too large to go to ground a f t e r the v a r m i n t s , who could kill tiny, timid dogs. So terriers emerged as the ideal compromise--miniature fighting machines, able to slip through the angles of a q u a r r y ' s cave, t a k e grievous punishment unflinchingly, and dispatch the opponent between powerful, ripping jaws. The many different terrier types that evolved had one common trait--fearlessness. Even today, along with the animal's absolute loyalty to its master, the Scottie's battling instinct is what many fanciers find most ingratiating. "Any t e r r i e r type is more aggressive," Mrs. H i l l says, " b u t that's what people like in them." In upstate New Y o r k , in f a c t , t e r r i e r trials r e q u i r e dogs to scramble down artificial tunnels a f t e r caged game. Such testing keeps a l i v e the t e r r i e r ' s m e n t a l characteristics by reuniting him with his original sporting role, contends Patricia Adams Lent, founder of the American Working Terriers Assn. "The terrier is more than a showdog" Mrs. Lent says. And the Scottie. in many ways, is the terrier's terrier, symbolic of the group's fighting spirit. The breed's gameness, in fact, has earned it perhaps the singular honor a m o n g dogs of b e i n g the namesake of a British regiment. George, fourth Earl of Dumbarton, owned a pack of Scotties so tough he c a l l e d them "Diehards." the name he later applied to his outfit. The Royal Scots, Dumbarton's Diehards. Mrs. Hill, who sells many breeds of dogs, says such traits still abide within the Scottie's breast. "They'll take on a Great Dane, A St. Bernard, or a Doberman pinscher and probably w h i p h i m , " she said, "because in a Scottie's mind he thinks he can't be outfought." "If you bred a Scottie as big as a St. Bernard." she continued, "it would be as strong and as dangerous as a bear. A Scottie is the biggest little dog you can have." With courage and devotion at a, ,,-J premium, even in many human relationships, canine illuminati in the valley are at a loss to explain the Scottie's meteoritic fortunes. Theories are few and inconfident. "The temperament of some Scotties is not entirely dependable-they're sometimes a bit irritable," offered Dr. Gordon F. Phillips of Phillips Animal Hospital, Inc. Other vets noted the type's breeding difficulty and moderate incidence of skin disease. But fadism seems to provide the most adequate solution to the Case . of the Disaooearini; Scottie. "Everybody has a Poodle, so everybody wants one," Mrs. Mill said. "If everybody had a Scottie,·every- body would gel one of those. "in Charleston, people only want common dogs--there's no demand for a Lhasa Apso or a Shili T/.u," she said. Nancy McClung. Mrs. Hill's assistant, interjected an example: "Somebody complemented me on my Welsh Corgi the o t h e r d a y -they called him a cute mutt!" Wedded to a local "beans-and- cornbread" level of canine sophistication is a nationwide trend U/ buy large, fierce dogs for protection of person and property, making the Scottie only one of many smaller breeds burglars and muggers have nudged from the limelight, an AKC spokeswoman said. But Scottie owner Mrs. Robert F. Robertson, of 1018 V a l l e y Road, q u i c k l y touts her M a c G r c g o r ' s watchdog capabilities. "He barks at anybody who comes near," she said. Unlike Mrs. Robertson and most Scotlie owners. Mrs. Hill's praise of the plucky pet springs from tragedy. Jealous of Iwo Boxers they had j u s t a c q u i r e d , the M i l l s ' l e m a l e Scotlie. MacTavish, attacked her rivals while the family was away f r o m home. W h e n she r e t u r n e d . Mrs. H i l l found MacTavish bleeding and in shock, "just laying and staring." The Scottie died minutes later. The Boxers, whose ancestors wen: bred b y r i f f r a f f f o r d e a t h matches in the pits and for bnllbait- i n g . e a c h w e i g h t e d a b o u t 7 0 pounds: Die Scotlie, 2(1. Outsi/ed. outnumbered, pitted against tradi- t i o n a l lighting dogs, the terrier had s t i l l managed to crush one of the boxer's lorepaws and shred the other's ear before she fell. £ . "lie n e v e r stood m u c h o f a' chance against two," Mrs. Hill said sorrowfully. If, as the Indians believed, a warrior's courage was his passport to p a r a d i s e , then Scotlie owners agree that while there are not so many of the breed around now as once, still, somewhere, in endless, j/,- fenceless fields of green where varmints abound, there are Scotties. A lot of them. CHARLESTON. WVA.Mm

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