Sunday, April 5, 2009

Patrick was right

As usual.

If you don't read his blog - He's the Terrierman.

If you haven't heard, we gave up Murphy, my patterdale terrier to a nice couple who seem to be loving her to death. We've seen them out and about and both dog and owners seem thrilled with each other.

But now I'm feeling a void. I would like to get a dog to work under my hawks. I'm in no hurry, and I'm researching what is out there. On the other hand, I did get my little terrier out doing some groundhog work with Patrick, and I had a blast. So I have specific requirements for a dog.

Most importantly, it needs to get along with other dogs, and kids, and strangers. It needs to have some prey drive. The wife insists that it not shed. And I would like to continue to have a dog that will go to ground after the occasional groundhog.

I'm leaning towards dachshund, but the misses doesn't like them. I'm still working on her.
Anyway, I'm perusing my options.

We spent the weekend in Charlotte doing kid tournament stuff. The weather was gorgeous, and he had some time to check out the surroundings on Saturday afternoon.

We ended up at the home of a Cairne terrier breeder. What a great little dog. The kids were instantly enamored of them, and I have to admit, the puppies were awfully cute. the coats were rough and nonshedding, and they were gamey.

The breeder guessed that the parents were around 12 pounds and thought that they should go to ground just fine.

It was believable, seeing the puppies. So I asked to see the parents.

Good looking little dogs. They were friendly and frisky. They loved to be petted. But there was no way those dogs would fit in a groundhog hole.

I tried to span them, but my fingers were a good two inches from touching. The dogs had to weigh close to twenty pounds. I don't think the breeder, who assured me of their AKC registry, realized why they wouldn't work.

So what is it that Patrick says?

The Cairn Terrier, on the other hand, seems to have the basic physical requirements needed for work. Sure, some dogs are big in the chest, but some smaller dogs seem right sized. The coat is generally fine, if a little long for serious brush and mud.

So is there some other defect? Is there a weakness of noise or voice? Is there a timidity of character that becomes pronounced when the dog faces something larger than a rat?

Perhaps. In truth, however, the real problem is as likely to reside up the leash as down.

The most important requirement of a working terrier is not found in a Kennel Club conformation standard; it is having an owner that will take it out in the field and give it the opportunity to work. This, above all, appears to be the missing part of a Cairn Terrier.

She was a nice lady, who loved her dogs, but her dogs just won't work.

I'll keep looking.

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