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The Terrier Tattler

The Terrier Tattler
October 2004
September was a ball. Wes and I competed in our first Earth Dog competition.  It was
kind of fun and we got to see lots of Westies (it was sponsored by the Westie club of
Northern Illinois).   We both entered into the Intro to Quarry (beginner level).  In the intro
competition you have go into a 9” tunnel (in the ground!), it’s 10 feet long, with a right
angle turn.  Both Wes and I went into the hole in the ground – but failed on the 2nd
part….  ‘working’ the rat at the end of the tunnel.  Some of our friends are more
experienced and did better (see AbFabs and Hole-ly Terrors articles below).  

I prefer events where I get to RUN!!  My Iowa Fan club had the chance to see me RUN in
September at the Des Moines Obedience Training Club’s agility trial.  It was 3 fun filled
days in Des Moines, with family and friends.  We had a ball – big thanks to my fans –
Big thanks to Abby, Rocky & Gus’ mom Susan Ririe for writing us this great article about real-life earth dogs!  
Calling all costumes!  I’ve seen some pretty cool Halloween costumes over the years.  This year is your big
chance to win.  Send your photos to me at – you can even enter multiple times if you’re
like my brother and have multiple outfits!  You can even enter if you’re not a dog – yes, even cats can participate!
Here's Wes and I in our 'Royal Family' costumes!  

I’ll announce the winners in next month’s Tattler!!  Send your photos by Nov 1 (next month’s Tattler will be
delayed to allow adequate judging time).  
they got a chance to see me run in 6 competitions, but I waited until my last run on Sunday to show them how
perfect I can be – I finally got an Open Standard leg and 1st place! It was also really fun to see my Westie
friend, Cricket.  Cricket and I met at this trial a year ago and it was nice to see her and her handler, Mary Lou.  

October will be fun too…  I’m going to an Agility Workshop – 3 days with some World Champion Agility
experts!  I’ll let you know how it goes.     
Princess Bianca
This description calls for the Terrier to be a barking dog, one bred not only to fight the fox and badger, etc., but
also “to give notice” where they reside.  Thus, the Terrier, when he went to ground, was expected to bark
constantly to tell the hunter where he was going so that the earth could be dug and the prize captured and
killed.  Sportsmen for many years have had little care for a Terrier without “good voice,” and one who is so
deficient is no terrier at all.  For these reasons, we can expect today’s Terrier to enjoy a lusty bark when
conditions demand; it is his heritage.
As their name implies, Terriers were originally bred to destroy ground animals, and, for this pursuit, they are still
adept.  They kill rats, foxes, otters, badgers, and all other vermin that have the temerity to cross their path.
All members of the Terrier family have the instinctive desire to enjoy a good frolic or fight.  This should not be
taken as a condemnation that all Terriers are fighters; they are not.  Some Terriers will be less argumentative
than others.  However, no Terrier has ever been known to back away from a fight or act the coward—it is just not
breed character.  In fact, the courage indigenous to all Terrier breeds can best be traced to early training and
environment.  It has been retold many times that “keepers” of kennels for the Scotch gentry would test the young
dogs for gameness.  This test frequently consisted of dropping the dog into an upended barrel in which a
young  badger, or other equally ferocious foe, was waiting.  If the dog killed or mortally wounded his adversary,
he was considered a worthy addition to the pack.  If not, few tears were shed.
This method of determining gameness seems “extreme” today, but it was a realistic approach in the days when
the main purpose of the Terrier was to rout out or kill the game in its earth.  It is also the reason why today’s
Terriers are so fearless, for with the test outlined above, few that were not game survived to father descendants.

In spite of this early training, Terriers are proud, friendly, affectionate, and intelligent.  They make wonderful pets
and companions, and few who have ever owned a Terrier will consider any other breed as a replacement when
that sad need arises in their lives.
The Highlands of Scotland were once a plateau rising from the North Atlantic.  They have suffered much erosion
and fairly recently, geologically speaking, have subsided into the ocean.  In the coastal regions, the eroded
valleys have become submerged and are now fiords, or firths, leaving the rocky eminences remaining.  In this
rugged, craggy countryside, small, short-legged Terriers were needed for hunting game.  The game made their
lairs in the rocks, between the rocks, and under the rocks.  The dogs had to be able to follow the animal
wherever it went—into narrow passages, between roots, and between rocks that could not be budged—and
often totally in the dark.  The dogs usually worked in packs, barking when they sighted game and bringing their
quarry to ground.  The dogs needed the intelligence to outwit a crafty opponent quickly and decisively.
About five years ago,  I became aware of a sport sponsored by the American Kennel Club known as Earthdog
Testing.  The AKC describes Earthdog Tests as follows: the purpose of non-competitive earthdog tests is to
offer breeders and owners of small Terriers and Dachshunds a standardized gauge to measure their dogs
natural and trained hunting and working abilities when exposed to a hunting situation.  The noncompetitive
program begins with a basic introduction to den work and quarry and progresses through gradual steps to
require the dog to demonstrate that it is capable of being trained to follow game to ground and work its quarry.
I have had terriers for over 17 years now.  There was another set before Rocky and Gus and all four of them
have displayed true terrier behavior.  The Scotties are grumpy, little, old men with an Eeyore outlook on life.  The
Westies are very charming.  They both do what they want, when they want.  They are obedient to a point and it
appears that I’m in charge, but only because they let me.  They have my family and me trained very well.
Some of the dogs’ favorite pastimes are chasing rabbits, squirrels, birds or even just leaves that have the
audacity to flit across their yard.  One of their absolutely favorite things to do when out for a walk to the park is
chase geese.  (If you’re a game warden reading this, please forget I said that part.)  Border Collies get paid for
doing the same thing at golf courses.  We provide this service free of charge.  To a frugal Scotsman, that’s very
important.  Everytime I reach down to unclip the leash, I’m reminded of the line from “Lady and the Tramp”
where Tramp says to Lady “did you ever chase chickens, Pidge?”  Inside the house, they have a myriad of
mostly terrier proof toys but some are not, as evidenced by the stuffing that can be found every where. Most of
Rocky and Gus’ toys look like they have been to hell and back.  
Hmmm, Earthdog Test, this should be a piece of cake.   I have two ferocious earthdogs.  They love to chase
things.  This should be easy.  They go in agility tunnels.  After all, it’s instinct isn’t it?  The answer is “no” on all
Me: “Gus, I want you to go in that 9” by 9” tunnel under the ground and get the rat.”
Gus: “You expect me to go into that tunnel, get dirty, and bark my fool head off at that caged, fat rat when I can
just as easily walk right over to the judge who’s pretending that I can’t see her behind that bale of hay, and get
the rat.  Whatever!  Maybe my stupid little brother will do it.”
Terrier n. any of several small, lively dogs, as the Scottish
terrier, fox terrier,etc.
Terrier comes from the French term chein terrier, meaning
“hunting dog.”  
Terrier was a word for “burrow.”  These small
dogs were taught to burrow into the earth after small game
such as rabbits.
All modern breeds of dogs are hybrids—crosses of various
breeds and strains to obtain the desired characteristics.  
When these, through selection and several generations of
reproductions, breed true, the characteristics of the breed
may be termed “set” and a new breed is established.  Today’
s recognized distinct breeds of dogs have all attained this
station.  They are “set” in their characteristics and
The British Isles was the birthplace of that grouping of dogs
known as “Terriers”.  Terriers, as evidenced by their Group
name (derived from the Latin, “Terra,” meaning earth), are
all earth dogs, going to ground after their prey.  They are of
special temperament, have high intelligence and
unquestioned courage.  They will fight to the death rather
than yield ground or give quarter.  And, above all, they
respect man.  
An interesting description of a “Terrier” was written in 1774
by Oliver Goldsmith, who said: “The terrier is a small kind of
hound, with rough hair, made use of to force the fox and
badger out of their holes; or rather to give notice by their
barking, in what part of their kennel the fox or badger
resides, when the sportsmen intend to dig them out.”
King Wesley
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Earth Dog Rocky
I mentioned that Wes & I didn’t do so great at the Earth Dog trial, but
Rocky is an Earth Dog natural.  Not only did he go into the tunnel and
find the rat, he was barking, digging and whining trying to get the darn
rat.  He was one of the few dogs to earn an Intro to Quarry ribbon!  He
and his assistant, Susan, are posing in the photo at the right.  You can
read about the beginning of Rocky's Earth Dog career in the
article below!
Agility Westies!  
Westies Rule at UKC Smack Dabs Trial!!!

There were 5 Westies competing on Sept
11!  My friends Murphy, Rocky and Abby.  
Murphy (his photo was in last month’s
newletter too) had a perfect run in this first
trial at Smack Dabs.  Rocky and Abby both
had fabulous runs too – each with a 2nd
place in their classes!   Congrats to their
teammates - Linda Czuba and Susan
Ririe.   Check them out with all their pretty
MacKenzie Gets AX Title!
MacKenzie (one of the Super Persky Cairns) earned her AX std title with
a 1st place run. We were figuring that  Murray was 33 months old when
he entered  EX B and she is JUST 18 mo.
Pup Pics!!
This month I have photo shots of two pups that have 'parents' that works with my assistant, Tracy.  Thanks
for sharing!!!  Send your faviorite photos to me at
Very Bella!
Bella (above) is a young Italian Greyhound (IG for
short).  Of course, Bella, Italian for beautiful and
the name sure fits - what a cutie.  Very glad I don't
have to run against her in agility - she has long
Carney's a cutie!
The shot below shows another cutie pie - Carney.  Carney
is a princess too  - she gets the food she likes the most
and she gets to snuggle up  on pillows on her 'parents'
bed.  Of course, she absolutely deserves it all!