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About a terrier

Discussion in 'Staffordshire Bull Terriers' started by F.W.K., Oct 16, 2019.

  1. F.W.K.

    F.W.K. Top Dog

    We now come to the very chief of our favourites, our dear dog Tawney. Before he arrived, we only had a setter who lived in his kennel in the yard, and we never petted him much; and once when Papa went away for several months, he took the dog with him, so we were without any guard.

    At this time a great many robberies had taken place, and houses had been broken into in the neighbouring town. There appeared to be a gang of house-breakers going about. And when Mamma was writing to our Grandmamma, she said that she quite expected a visit from this gang, some night, as Papa was away, and no man in the house. Grandmamma replied that the best safeguard was a little terrier, sleeping inside the house, and that she would send her one; and in a few days we received a beautiful terrier, close haired and compact, with such brilliant dark eyes and of a yellowish colour, more the colour of a lion than anything else, so we named him "Tawney." A bed was arranged for him in a flat basket, which was placed every evening near the back door, and we soon found what sharp ears he had, and what a good watch-dog he would prove. If Mamma got up after every one had gone to bed, and opened her own door as softly as possible, Tawney heard the lock turn, and barked instantly. He always gave notice when anybody entered the front gate, or came into the yard, and we felt sure that no housebreaker could approach the house unheard at least.

    Tawney became our constant companion. He took his meals with us, sat under the table during our lessons, walked out with us, joined in all our romps and games; and was really almost as companionable as another child could have been. At hide and seek, running races, leaping over a pole, and blind man's buff, he played as well as any boy, and when we drove in the pony carriage, he amused us excessively. He darted into every door or gate he found open, and in passing through the town he behaved so badly with respect to the cats, that we were obliged to take him into the carriage, until we had quite left the streets. If he saw a poor quiet cat sitting at a door he flew at her; and if the cat took refuge in the house, Tawney followed, barking and yelping, and doing all he could to worry poor puss. Of course this was not at all pleasing to the inmates, and generally Tawney emerged, as quickly as he entered, followed by a flying broom-stick, sometimes by the contents of a pail of dirty water; and often by an angry scolding woman, whom we had to appease as we best could. Then if he saw a little child with a piece of bread, or a mug of milk, he would seize upon the food, knocking down the child by the roughness of his spring; and then we had again to apologise and explain, and regret, and so on; and although all these pranks were done in the joy and delight of his heart, at starting for a good run in the country, that was no comfort to the aggrieved cats and children; and he became so unbearable when in the town, that we used to make a circuit to avoid the streets, or else as I said before, take him inside the carriage.

    Then when we reached the lanes and roads, we gave him his liberty, which he thoroughly enjoyed. How he raced before us, how he sprang over the hedges and walls, sometimes disappearing entirely for a field or two, and then suddenly darting out from some wood or garden! Once or twice he returned to the carriage with his nose bloody; we could not discover what he had been worrying. But it must be confessed that he was a fierce little animal, and had no idea of fearing anything.

    Sometimes he disappeared altogether when running after the carriage, and more than once staid out all night and even two nights; but always returned safely and in good plight, as if he had not been starved.

    We used to wish that he had the power of telling us his adventures on these occasions: where he had slept; what pranks he had played; and in how many scrapes and difficulties he had found himself.

    His greatest delight was when Papa took him with us to hunt a stack for rats. Oh! what a wonderful state of excitement was Tawney in; he used to sit staring at a hole in the stack as if his eyes would spring from his head, and shaking in every limb with delightful expectation. Then, when the rat bolted from his concealment, what a sharp spring did the little fellow make; and having dispatched his victim, would peer up to the top of the stack and seem to examine so carefully all up the side, to discover another hole that looked promising. If none offered, he would run off to another stack, and snuffing all round it, search most carefully for signs of rat holes.

    One of Tawney's most annoying tricks, was his love of fighting; he scarcely ever met with another dog, without flying at him and provoking him to a severe contest, in which torn ears were his usual reward; but this sort of hurt was perfectly disregarded by him.

    On one occasion, we went a journey to the sea-shore, and Tawney was put into a dog-box, with several other dogs.

    While the train was in motion the rattle and noise prevented us from hearing them; but at the first station a most tremendous yelping, snarling, and shrieking arose from the dog-box; and, on opening the door, the whole number of dogs were tearing and biting each other; no doubt, having been invited to the contest by our naughty Tawney. The combatants having been separated by dint of dragging at their tails, legs, and bodies, Tawney, with damaged mouth and ears, though wagging his tail and wriggling about with pleasure, was consigned to a solitary prison for the rest of the journey; and the remaining dogs were left to lick their wounds in peace.

    We were anxious to see what Tawney would think of the sea; we had neither river, pond, or lake, near our home in the country, so had never had an opportunity of trying his powers of swimming.

    The first day that we went down to the shingle, the sea was very rough; great tops of white foam rolling over on the beach; and we had no idea that the little fellow would venture into the midst of such a very novel-looking element.

    However, we flung a stick in. "Fetch it, Tawney! Fetch it!"

    And in plunged the bold little animal; the first wave threw him up on the beach again, looking rather astonished; but he did not hesitate to try again. The water being so rough, we did not urge his going in any further, fearing that he might be washed away; but on smooth days, he would swim out a long way, and bring back any floating thing that was thrown in; and he enjoyed his swims as much as any regular water-dog could do.

    He had a habit of paying visits by himself, when we were at home; he used regularly to go down the road to a farmer, at some little distance, every morning about eight o'clock, and quietly return, trotting along the footpath at nine, which, doubtless, he knew to be the breakfast hour.

    Whilst we were at the sea-side, he used to visit a family with whom we were intimate. Running to their gate, he waited till some one rang, and entered with them; if their business was not in the drawing-room, he again waited till some other person opened the door, and then he settled himself on the hearth-rug for about half an hour; after which, he took leave by wagging his tail, and came home again.

    The lodging in which we were, was one on a long terrace, the front looking on the sea, and the back having a long strip of yard opening into a lane. The kitchen being in front, Tawney found that he was not heard when he barked to be let in at the back of the house.

    But the servant did not approve of coming up the steep kitchen stairs to let in Mr. Tawney, when the back door was level with the kitchen, and only a step for her; and, in some way, Tawney comprehended this; for he used to come to the front of the house; and the area of the kitchen-window being close to the front door, he was sure that his bark was heard. Then he raced round the end of the terrace, and through the lane, to the back door; and by the time cook had gone to open it, there was Mr. Tawney ready to enter.

    There being no fear of housebreakers or thieves here, the dog was allowed to sleep in Mamma's bed-room; we provided him with a box and some folds of carpeting at the bottom, and made him, we thought, a soft comfortable bed.

    But Tawney much preferred sheets and blankets, and, my sister sleeping in a little bed in the corner of Mamma's room, he used to wait till she was fast asleep, and then slip himself on to the bed so quietly as not to wake her; and, getting down to the foot of the bed, would remain there till morning.

    But Mamma said he must stay in his box; and forbad my sister to allow him to get on the bed.

    As, however, he never tried to do so until she was asleep, she could not prevent it. So Mamma listened, and when she heard Tawney very softly leave his box and go to the bed, she got up and whipped him, and put him back in his box, ordering him to stay there.

    Several nights this took place; till Tawney had the cunning to wait till Mamma also was asleep, when he crept into the warm resting-place, and staid there in peace till the morning.

    When daylight appeared, he returned to his own bed, in order to avoid the morning whipping, which he knew would come, were he discovered in the forbidden place.

    When we were returning home, we were to make some visits in London; so, thinking it best not to take Tawney, we entrusted him to a man who was going to our own town, with many charges as to feeding and watching him.

    And when we had left London and arrived at home, there was poor Tawney safe and well, and extravagantly delighted to see us.

    When we enquired about his behaviour on the road, of the man who had brought him, he told us that he had been in a terrible fright at the London station, thinking that he had lost Tawney entirely.

    He had to cross London from one station to another; and there was an hour or two to spare before the starting of the train from the second station; so, wishing to leave the station for that time, and fearing to risk Tawney in the street, he tied him up, as he thought, safely in a shed belonging to the station. He was also taking with him some luggage belonging to us, among which was a large round packing-case, that usually stood in Mamma's room; these were shut up in a store-house at the other end of the station.

    At the appointed hour our friend returned to the station, and went to claim the dog; but no Tawney was in the shed, only the end of the broken rope which had fastened him. In great anxiety he ran about enquiring of all he met. No one knew anything of the dog, no one had seen him pass out of the station; and after fruitless search in all the waiting and refreshment rooms, and in short through the whole station; he was reluctantly obliged to go for the luggage in order to pursue his journey, when, on opening the door of the store-house, what was his joy on beholding the missing Tawney, seated on the top of the round packing case, that he well knew to belong to his mistress. How he found out that the luggage was in the store-house, and how he got in, we could not of course discover; and it only confirmed us in our opinion of Tawney's intense wisdom. We and Tawney enjoyed ourselves much for some weeks, taking long walks, long drives, and hunting rats in all the neighbours' stacks. We had some fine games in our own field, and a great deal of basking in the sun, as it was a beautiful summer, with constant sunshine.

    I mentioned, that Tawney used to enrage the people in the cottages by trying to worry their cats. On one of these occasions, when he had made a dreadful confusion at the door of a cottage containing children, upsetting a tub of soap-suds, dirtying the clean sanded floor, and frightening an old woman nearly out of her wits, by his reckless endeavour to seize on the cat; a man had come angrily out of the cottage, and coming close up to the carriage, declared with a clenched fist, and a furious countenance, that if Tawney ever approached his door again, he would kill him. Papa, who happened to be with us, said that if he would give Tawney a good beating, it would punish the dog without punishing us; and as he was a great favourite, he begged that he would not think of killing him. Then we drove on, leaving the man standing sulkily in the road.

    Whether Tawney had gone alone to this cottage for the purpose of worrying the cat, or whether the man had taken his revenge for the first offence, or whether he had done any thing in the matter, we shall never know; but we could not help suspecting him when the following sad affair happened.

    It was a very sultry day, too much so to run or to do anything but lie on the grass, which we did during the whole morning. Papa sat reading on a bench placed in the shady side of the house, and we were on the grass beside him; Tawney lay roasting in the sun, and, now and then, panting with heat, came to us in the shade, or even went into the dining-room window and flung himself down under the table; some steps led into the garden from the window, and as the window-sill was not level with the dining-room floor, but raised about two feet above it, we had a stool or sort of step inside the window, as well as outside; Tawney generally sprang through, without troubling himself about the steps.

    Soon after Tawney had entered the house, apparently for the purpose of cooling himself, we heard a tumble, then another, and I got up to see what he was doing. "Why Papa," I cried, "what can be the matter with Tawney, he is trying to jump out of the window and cannot reach the sill, and falls back again." Papa came to see, and again the dog made an ineffectual spring at the low window-sill. Papa lifted him out into the garden, saying he supposed he had half blinded himself with lying so long in the hot sunshine. But we continued to watch him, and presently we saw his limbs twitching in a sort of fit, and he ran wildly about us. Papa called to the gardener, and they took him into the stable, forbidding us to approach him, as they feared he was going mad; they dashed water over him as he lay exhausted on the straw in the stable; but soon the fits became more and more violent, and our poor dog in a few hours was dead.

    A man that examined him by Papa's desire, said there was no doubt that he had been poisoned by strychnine. He might have picked up something so poisoned while running in the roads, or it might have been purposely done by the angry man to whom I alluded. We never found out the manner in which it had been administered, and could only regret most heartily the loss of our dear playfellow. We had not another dog for a very long time, and never shall love one so well as Tawney.

    By Emma Davenport
  2. stickler

    stickler Top Dog

    Damn, I knew this story got an end ... lol

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