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Practical Management








Many people are deterred from keeping dogs by the belief that the
hobby is expensive and that it entails a profitless amount of trouble
and anxiety; but to the true dog-lover the anxiety and trouble are far
outbalanced by the pleasures of possession, and as to the expense,
that is a matter which can be regulated at will. A luxuriously
appointed kennel of valuable dogs, who are pampered into sickness,
may, indeed, become a serious drain upon the owner's banking account,
but if managed on business principles the occupation is capable of
yielding a very respectable income. One does not wish to see
dog-keeping turned into a profession, and there seems to be something
mean in making money by our pets; but the process of drafting is
necessary when the kennel is overstocked, and buying and selling are
among the interesting accessories of the game, second only to the
pleasurable excitement of submitting one's favourites to the judgment
of the show-ring. The delights of breeding and rearing should be their
own reward, as they usually are, yet something more than mere
pin-money can be made by the alert amateur who possesses a kennel of
acknowledged merit, and who knows how to turn it to account. A
champion ought easily to earn his own living: some are a source of
handsome revenue.

Occasionally one hears of very high prices being paid for dogs
acknowledged to be perfect specimens of their breed. For the St.
Bernard Sir Belvidere sixteen hundred pounds were offered. Plinlimmon
was sold for a thousand, the same sum that was paid for the Bulldog
Rodney Stone. For the Collies Southport Perfection and Ormskirk
Emerald Mr. Megson paid a thousand sovereigns each. Size is no
criterion of a dog's market value; Mrs. Ashton Cross is said to have
refused two thousand pounds for her celebrated Pekinese Chu-Erh, and
there are many lap-dogs now living that could not be purchased for
that high price. These are sums which only a competent judge with a
long purse would dream of paying for an animal whose tenure of active
life can hardly be more than eight or ten years, and already the dog's
value must have been attested by his success in competition. It
requires an expert eye to perceive the potentialities of a puppy, and
there is always an element of speculative risk for both buyer and
seller. Many a dog that has been sold for a song has grown to be a
famous champion. At Cruft's show in 1905 the Bulldog Mahomet was
offered for ten pounds. No one was bold enough to buy him, yet
eighteen months afterwards he was sold and considered cheap at a
thousand. Uncertainty adds zest to a hobby that is in itself engaging.

Thanks to the influence of the Kennel Club and the institution of dog
shows, which have encouraged the improvement of distinct breeds, there
are fewer nondescript mongrels in our midst than there were a
generation or so ago. A fuller knowledge has done much to increase the
pride which the British people take in their canine companions, and
our present population of dogs has never been equalled for good
quality in any other age or any other land.

The beginner cannot easily go wrong or be seriously cheated, but it is
well when making a first purchase to take the advice of an expert and
to be very certain of the dog's pedigree, age, temper, and condition.
The approved method of buying a dog is to select one advertised for
sale in the weekly journals devoted to the dog. A better way still, if
a dog of distinguished pedigree is desired, is to apply direct to a
well-known owner of the required breed, or to visit one of the great
annual shows, such as Cruft's, Manchester, The Ladies' Kennel
Association, The Kennel Club (Crystal Palace, in October), The
Scottish Kennel Club, or Birmingham, and there choose the dog from the
benches, buying him at his catalogue price.

In determining the choice of a breed it is to be remembered that some
are better watchdogs than others, some more docile, some safer with
children. The size of the breed should be relative to the accommodation
available. To have a St. Bernard or a Great Dane galumphing about a
small house is an inconvenience, and sporting dogs which require
constant exercise and freedom are not suited to the confined life of a
Bloomsbury flat. Nor are the long-haired breeds at their best
draggling round in the wet, muddy streets of a city. For town life the
clean-legged Terrier, the Bulldog, the Pug, and the Schipperke are to
be preferred. Bitches are cleaner in the house and more tractable than
dogs. The idea that they are more trouble than dogs is a fallacy. The
difficulty arises only twice in a twelvemonth for a few days, and if
you are watchful there need be no misadventure.

If only one dog, or two or three of the smaller kinds, be kept, there
is no imperative need for an outdoor kennel, although all dogs are the
better for life in the open air. The house-dog may be fed with
meat-scraps from the kitchen served as an evening meal, with rodnim or
a dry biscuit for breakfast. The duty of feeding him should be in the
hands of one person only. When it is everybody's and nobody's duty he
is apt to be neglected at one time and overfed at another. Regularity
of feeding is one of the secrets of successful dog-keeping. It ought
also to be one person's duty to see that he has frequent access to the
yard or garden, that he gets plenty of clean drinking water, plenty of
outdoor exercise, and a comfortable bed.

For the toy and delicate breeds it is a good plan to have a dog-room
set apart, with a suitable cage or basket-kennel for each dog.

Even delicate Toy dogs, however, ought not to be permanently lodged
within doors, and the dog-room is only complete when it has as an
annexe a grass plot for playground and free exercise. Next to
wholesome and regular food, fresh air and sunshine are the prime
necessaries of healthy condition. Weakness and disease come more
frequently from injudicious feeding and housing than from any other
cause. Among the free and ownerless pariah dogs of the East disease
is almost unknown.

For the kennels of our British-bred dogs, perhaps a southern or a
south-western aspect is the best, but wherever it is placed the kennel
must be sufficiently sheltered from rain and wind, and it ought to be
provided with a covered run in which the inmates may have full
liberty. An awning of some kind is necessary. Trees afford good
shelter from the sun-rays, but they harbour moisture, and damp must be
avoided at all costs. When only one outdoor dog is kept, a kennel can
be improvised out of a packing-case, supported on bricks above the
ground, with the entrance properly shielded from the weather. No dog
should be allowed to live in a kennel in which he cannot turn round at
full length. Properly constructed, portable, and well-ventilated
kennels for single dogs are not expensive and are greatly to be
preferred to any amateurish makeshift. A good one for a terrier need
not cost more than a pound. It is usually the single dog that suffers
most from imperfect accommodation. His kennel is generally too small
to admit of a good bed of straw, and if there is no railed-in run
attached he must needs be chained up. The dog that is kept on the
chain becomes dirty in his habits, unhappy, and savage. His chain is
often too short and is not provided with swivels to avert kinks. On a
sudden alarm, or on the appearance of a trespassing tabby, he will
often bound forward at the risk of dislocating his neck. The
yard-dog's chain ought always to be fitted with a stop link spring to
counteract the effect of the sudden jerk. The method may be employed
with advantage in the garden for several dogs, a separate rope being
used for each. Unfriendly dogs can thus be kept safely apart and still
be to some extent at liberty.

There is no obvious advantage in keeping a watch-dog on the chain
rather than in an enclosed compound, unless he is expected to go for a
possible burglar and attack him. A wire-netting enclosure can easily
be constructed at very little expense. For the more powerful dogs the
use of wrought-iron railings is advisable, and these can be procured
cheaply from Spratt's or Boulton and Paul's, fitted with gates and
with revolving troughs for feeding from the outside.

Opinions differ as to the best material for the flooring of kennels
and the paving of runs. Asphalte is suitable for either in mild
weather, but in summer it becomes uncomfortably hot for the feet,
unless it is partly composed of cork. Concrete has its advantages if
the surface can be kept dry. Flagstones are cold for winter, as also
are tiles and bricks. For terriers, who enjoy burrowing, earth is the
best ground for the run, and it can be kept free from dirt and buried
bones by a rake over in the morning, while tufts of grass left round
the margins supply the dogs' natural medicine. The movable sleeping
bench must, of course, be of wood, raised a few inches above the
floor, with a ledge to keep in the straw or other bedding. Wooden
floors are open to the objection that they absorb the urine; but dogs
should be taught not to foul their nest, and in any case a frequent
disinfecting with a solution of Pearson's or Jeyes' fluid should
obviate impurity, while fleas, which take refuge in the dust between
the planks, may be dismissed or kept away with a sprinkling of
paraffin. Whatever the flooring, scrupulous cleanliness in the kennel
is a prime necessity, and the inner walls should be frequently
limewashed. It is important, too, that no scraps of rejected food or
bones should be left lying about to become putrid or to tempt the
visits of rats, which bring fleas. If the dogs do not finish their
food when it is served to them, it should be removed until hunger
gives appetite for the next meal.

Many breeders of the large and thick-coated varieties, such as St.
Bernards, Newfoundlands, Old English Sheepdogs, and rough-haired
Collies, give their dogs nothing to lie upon but clean bare boards.
The coat is itself a sufficient cushion, but in winter weather straw
gives added warmth, and for short-haired dogs something soft, if it is
only a piece of carpet or a sack, is needed as a bed to protect the
hocks from abrasion.

With regard to feeding, this requires to be studied in relation to the
particular breed. One good meal a day, served by preference in the
evening, is sufficient for the adult if a dry dog-cake or a handful of
rodnim be given for breakfast, and perhaps a large bone to gnaw at.
Clean cold water must always be at hand in all weathers, and a drink
of milk coloured with tea is nourishing. Goat's milk is particularly
suitable for the dog: many owners keep goats on their premises to give
a constant supply. It is a mistake to suppose, as many persons do,
that meat diet provokes eczema and other skin troubles; the contrary
is the case. The dog is by nature a carnivorous animal, and wholesome
flesh, either cooked or raw, should be his staple food. Horseflesh,
which is frequently used in large establishments, is not so fully to
be relied upon as ordinary butcher meat. There is no serious objection
to bullocks' heads, sheeps' heads, bullocks' tripes and paunches and a
little liver given occasionally is an aperient food which most dogs
enjoy. But when it can be afforded, wholesome butcher's meat is
without question the proper food. Oatmeal porridge, rice, barley,
linseed meal, and bone meal ought only to be regarded as occasional
additions to the usual meat diet, and are not necessary when dog cakes
are regularly supplied. Well-boiled green vegetables, such as cabbage,
turnip-tops, and nettle-tops, are good mixed with the meat; potatoes
are questionable. Of the various advertised dog foods, many of which
are excellent, the choice may be left to those who are fond of
experiment, or who seek for convenient substitutes for the
old-fashioned and wholesome diet of the household. Sickly dogs require
invalid's treatment; but the best course is usually the simplest, and,
given a sound constitution to begin with, any dog ought to thrive if
he is only properly housed, carefully fed, and gets abundant exercise.





Next: Breeding And Whelping

Previous: The Miniature Breeds



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