Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Rab and his Friends
Our Dogs

I WAS bitten severely by a little dog when with my mother at Moffat Wells, being then three years of age, and I have remained "bitten" ever since in the matter of dogs. I remember that little dog, and can at this moment not only recall my pain and terror — I have no doubt I was to blame — but also her face; and were I allowed to search among the shades in the cynic Elysian fields, I could pick her out still. All my life I have been familiar with these faithful creatures, making friends of them, and speaking to them; and the only time I ever addressed the public, about a year after being bitten, was at the farm of Kirklaw Hill, near Biggar, when the text, given out from an empty cart in which the ploughmen had placed me, was "Jacob's dog," and my entire sermon was as follows: — "Some say that Jacob had a black dog (the o very long), and some say that Jacob had a white dog, but I (imagine the presumption of four years!) say Jacob had a brown dog, and a brown dog it shall be."

I had many intimacies from this time onwards —Bawtie, of the inn; Keeper, the carrier's bull terrier; Tiger, a huge tawny mastiff from Edinburgh, which I think must have been an uncle of Rab's; all the sheep dogs at Callands — Spring, Mavis, Yarrow, Swallow, Cheviot, etc.; but it was not till I was at college, and my brother at the High School, that we possessed a dog.


Was the most utterly shabby, vulgar, mean-looking cur I ever beheld: in one word, a tyke. He had not one good feature except his teeth and eyes, and his bark, if that can be called a feature. He was not ugly enough to be interesting; his color black and white, his shape leggy and clumsy; altogether what Sydney Smith would have called an extraordinarily ordinary dog; and, as I have said, not even greatly ugly, or, as the Aberdonians have it, bonnie wi' illfauredness. My brother William found him the centre of attraction to a multitude of small blackguards who were drowning him slowly in Lochend Loch, doing their best to lengthen out the process, and secure the greatest amount of fun with the nearest approach to death. Even then Toby showed his great intellect by pretending to be dead, and thus gaining time and an inspiration. William bought him for twopence, and as he had it not, the boys accompanied him to Pilrig Street, when I happened to meet him, and giving the twopence to the biggest boy, had the satisfaction of seeing a general engagement of much severity, during which the twopence disappeared; one penny going off with a very small and swift boy, and the other vanishing hopelessly into the grating of a drain.

Toby was for weeks in the house unbeknown to any one but ourselves two and the cook, and from my grandmother's love of tidiness and hatred of dogs and of dirt I believe she would have expelled "him whom we saved from drowning," had not he, in his straightforward way, walked into my father's bedroom one night when lie was bathing his feet, and introduced himself with a wag of his tail, intimating a general willingness to be happy. My father laughed most heartily, and at last Toby, having got his way to his bare feet, and having begun to lick his soles and between his toes with his small rough tongue, my father gave such an unwonted shout of laughter that we — grandmother, sisters, and all of us — went in. Grandmother might argue with all her energy and skill, but as surely as the pressure of Tom Jones' infantile fist upon Mr. Allworthy's forefinger undid all the arguments of his sister, so (lid Toby's tongue and fun prove too many for grandmother's eloquence. I somehow think Toby must have been up to all this, for I think he had a peculiar love for my father ever after, and regarded grandmother from that hour with a careful and cool eye.

'Toby, when full grown, was a strong, coarse dog; coarse in shape, in countenance, in hair, and in manner. I used to think that, according to the Pythagorean doctrine, he must have been, or been going to be a Gilmerton carter. He was of the bull terrier variety, coarsened through much mongrelism and a dubious and varied ancestry. His teeth were good, and lie had a large skull, and a rich bark as of a dog three times his size, and a tail which I never saw equaled — indeed it was a tail per se; it was of immense girth and not short, equal throughout like a policeman's baton; the machinery for working it was of great power, and acted in a way, as far as I have been able to discover, quite original. We called it his ruler.

When he wished to get into the house, he first whined gently, then growled, then gave a sharp bark, and then came a resounding, mighty stroke which shook the house; this, after much study and watching, we found was done by his bringing the entire length of his solid tail flat upon the door, with a sudden and vigorous stroke; it was quite a tour de force or a coup de queue, and lie was perfect in it at once, his first bang authoritative, having been as masterly and telling as his last.

With all this inbred vulgar air, he was a dog of great moral excellence — affectionate, faithful, honest up to his light, with an odd humor as peculiar and as strong as his tail. My father, in his reserved way, was very fond of him, and there must have been very funny scenes with them, for we heard bursts of laughter issuing from his study when they two were by themselves; there was something in him that took that grave, beautiful, melancholy face. One can fancy him in the midst of his books, and sacred work and thoughts, pausing and looking at the secular Toby, who was looking out for a smile to begin his rough fun, and about to end by coursing and gurrin' round the room, upsetting my father's books, laid out on the floor for consultation, and himself nearly at times, as he stood watching him — and off his guard and shaking with laughter. Toby had always a great desire to accompany my father up to town; this my father's good taste and sense of dignity, besides his fear of losing his friend (a vain fear':, forbade, and as the decision of character of each was great and nearly equal, it was often a drawn game. Toby ultimately, by making it his entire object, triumphed. He usually was nowhere to be seen on my father leaving; he however saw him, and lay in wait at the head of the street, and up Leith Walk he kept him in view from the opposite side like a detective, and then, when he knew it was hopeless to hound him home, he crossed unblushingly over, and joined company, excessively rejoiced of course.

One Sunday he had gone with him to church, and left him at the vestry door. The second psalm was given out, and my father was sitting back in the pulpit, when the door at its back, up which he came from the vestry was seen to move, and gently open, then, after a long pause, a black shining snout pushed its way steadily into the congregation, and was followed by Toby's entire body. He looked somewhat abashed, but snuffing his friend, he advanced as if on thin ice, and not seeing him, put his forelegs on the pulpit, and behold there he was, his own familiar chum. I watched all this, and anything more beautiful than his look of happiness, of comfort, of entire ease when he beheld his friend, — the smoothing down of the anxious ears, the swing of gladness of that mighty tail, — I don't expect soon to see. My father quietly opened the door, and Toby was at his feet and invisible to all but himself; had he sent old George Peaston, the "minister's man," to put him out, Toby would probably have shown his teeth, and astonished George. He slunk home as soon as he could, and never repeated that exploit.

I never saw in any other dog the sudden transition from discretion, not to say abject cowardice, to blazing and permanent valor. From his earliest years he showed a general meanness of blood, inherited from many generations of starved, bekicked, and down-trodden forefathers and mothers, resulting in a condition of intense abjectness in all matters of personal fear; anybody, even a beggar, by a Bowl and a threat of eye, could send him off howling by anticipation, with that mighty tail between his legs. But it was not always so to be, and I had the privilege of seeing courage, reasonable, absolute, and for life, spring up in Toby at once, as did Athene from the skull of Jove. It happened thus:-

Toby was in the way of hiding his culinary bones in the small gardens before his own and the neighboring doors. Mr. Scrymgeour, two doors off, a bulky, choleric, red-haired, red-faced man — torvo vultu — was, by the law of contrast, a great cultivator of flowers, and he had often scowled Toby into all but nonexistence by a stamp of his foot and a glare of his eye. One day his gate being open, in walks Toby with a huge bone, and making a hole where Scrymgeour had two minutes before been planting some precious slip, the name of which on paper and on a stick Toby made very light of, substituted his bone, and was engaged covering it, or thinking he was covering it up with his shoveling nose (a very odd relic of paradise in the dog), when S. spied him through the inner glass door, and was out upon him like the Assyrian, with a terrible goal. I watched them. Instantly Toby made straight at him with a roar too, and an eye more torve than Scrymgeour's, who, retreating without reserve, fell prostrate, there is reason to believe, in his own lobby. Toby contented himself with proclaiming his victory at the door, and returning finished his bone-planting at his leisure; the enemy, who had scuttled behind the glass-door, glaring at him.

From this moment Toby was an altered dog. Pluck at first sight was lord of all; from that time dated his first tremendous deliverance of tail against the door which we called "come listen to my tail." That very evening he paid a visit to Leo, next door's dog, a big, tyrannical bully and coward, which its master thought a Newfoundland, but whose pedigree we knew better; this brute continued the same system of chronic extermination which was interrupted at Lochend, — having Toby down among his feet, and threatening hint with instant death two or three times a day. To hire Toby paid a visit that very evening, down into his den, and walked about, as much as to say "Come on, Macduff!" but Macduff did not come on, and henceforward there was an armed neutrality, and they merely stiffened up and made their backs rigid, pretended each not to see the other, walking solemnly round, as is the manner of dogs. Toby worked his new-found faculty thoroughly, but with discretion. He killed cats, astonished beggars, kept his own in his own garden against all comers, and came off victorious in several well-fought battles; but he was not quarrelsome or foolhardy. It was very odd how his carriage changed, holding his head up, and how much pleasanter he was at home. To my father, next to William, who was his Humane Society man, he remained stanch. And what of his end? for the misery of dogs is that they die so soon, or as Sir Walter says, it is well they do; for if they lived as long as a Christian, and we liked them in proportion, and they then died, he said that was a thing he could not stand.

His exit was miserable, and had a strange poetic or tragic relation to his entrance. My father was out of town; I was away in England. Whether it was that the absence of my father had relaxed his power of moral restraint, or whether through neglect of the servant he had been desperately hungry, or most likely both being true, Toby was discovered with the remains of a cold leg of mutton, on which he had made an ample meal; this he was in vain endeavoring to plant as of old, in the hope of its remaining undiscovered till to-morrow's hunger returned, the whole shank bone sticking up unmistakably. This was seen by our excellent and Rhadamanthine grandmother, who pronounced sentence on the instant; and next day, as William was leaving for the High School, did he in the sour morning, through an easterly haur, behold him "whom he saved from drowning," and whom, with better results than in the case of Launce and Crab, he had taught, as if one should say, "thus would I teach a dog," dangling by his own chain from his own lamp-post, one of his hind feet just touching the pavement, and his body preternaturally elongated.

William found him dead and warm, and falling in with the milk-boy at the head of the street, questioned him, and discovered that he was the executioner, and had got twopence, he — Toby's every morning crony, who met him and accompanied him up the street, and licked the outside of his can — had, with an eye to speed and convenience, and a want of taste, not to say principle and affection, horrible still to think of, suspended Toby's animation beyond all hope. William instantly fell upon him, upsetting his milk and cream, and gave him a thorough licking, to his own intense relief ; and, being late, he got from Pyper, who was a martinet, the customary palinies, which he bore with something approaching to pleasure. So died Toby ; my father said little, but he missed and mourned his friend.

There is reason to believe that by one of those curious intertwistings of existence, the milk-boy was that one of the drowning party who got the penny of the twopence.


Our next friend was an exquisite shepherd's dog; fleet, thin-flanked, dainty, and handsome as a small grayhound, with all the grace of silky waving black and tan hair. We got him thus. Being then young and keen botanists, and full of the knowledge and love of Tweedside, having been on every hill-top from Muckle Mendic to Hundleshope and the Lee Pen, and having fished every water from Tarth to the Leithen, we discovered early in spring that young Stewart, author of an excellent book on natural history, a young man of great promise and early death, had found the Buxbaumia aphylla, a beautiful and odd-looking moss, west of Newbie heights, in the very month we were that moment in. We resolved to start next day. We walked to Peebles, and then up Haystoun Glen to the cottage of Adam Cairns, the aged shepherd of the Newbie hirsel, of whom we knew, and who knew of us from his daughter, Nancy Cairns, a servant with Uncle Aitken of Callands. We found our way up the burn with difficulty, as the evening was getting dark; and on getting near the cottage heard them at worship. We got in, and made ourselves known, and got a famous tea, and such cream and oat cake! — old Adam looking on us as "clean dementit" to come out for "a bit moss," which, however, he knew, and with some pride said he would take us in the morning to the place. As we were going into a box bed for the night, two young men came in, and said they were "gaun to burn the water." Off we set. It was a clear, dark, starlight, frosty night. They had their leisters and tar torches, and it was something worth seeing — the wild flame, the young fellows striking the fish coming to the light — how splendid they looked with the light on their scales, coming out of the darkness — the stumblings and quenchings suddenly of the lights, as the torchbearer fell into a deep pool. We got home past midnight, and slept as we seldom sleep now. In the morning Adam, who had been long up, and had been up the "Hope " with his dog, when he saw we had wakened, told us there was four inches of snow, and we soon saw it was too true. So we had to go home without our cryptogamic prize.

It turned out that Adam, who was an old man and frail, and had made some money, was going at Whitsunday to leave, and live with his son in Glasgow. We had been admiring the beauty and gentleness and perfect shape of Wylie, the finest colley I ever saw, and said, "What are you going to do with Wylie?" "'Deed," says he, "I hardly ken. I can na think o' sellin' her, though she's worth four pound, and she'll no like the toun." I said, "Would you let me have her?" and Adam, looking at her fondly, — she came up instantly to him, and made of hint, — said, "Ay, I wull, if ye'll be gude to her;" and it was settled that when Adam left for Glasgow she should be sent into Albany Street by the carrier.

She came, and was at once taken to all our hearts, even grandmother liked her; and though she was often pensive, as if thinking of her master and her work on the hills, she made herself at home, and behaved in all respects like a lady. When out with me, if she saw sheep in the streets or road, she got quite excited, and helped the work, and was curiously useful, the being so making her wonderfully happy. And so her little life went on, never doing wrong, always blithe and kind and beautiful. But some months after she came, there was a mystery about her: every Tuesday evening she disappeared; we tried to watch her, but in vain, she was always off by nine P. M., and was away all night, coining back next day wearied and all over mud, as if she had traveled far. She slept all next day. This went on for some months and we could make nothing of it. Poor dear creature, she looked at us wistfully when she came in, as if she would have told us if she could, and was especially fond, though tired.

Well, one day I was walking across the Grass-market, with Wylie at my heels, when two shepherds started, and looking at her, one said, "That's her; that's the wonderfu' wee bitch that naebody kens." I asked him what he meant, and he told me that for months past she had made her appearance by the first daylight at the "buchts" or sheep-pens in the cattle market, and worked incessantly, and to excellent purpose in helping the shepherds to get their sheep and lambs in. The man said with a sort of transport, "She's a perfect meeracle; flees about like a speerit, and never gangs wrang; wears but never grups, and beats a' oor dowgs. She's a perfect meeracle, and as soople as a inaukin." Then he related how they all knew her, and said, "There's that wee fell yin; we'll get them in noo." They tried to coax her to stop and be caught, but no, she was gentle, but off; and for many a day that "wee fell yin" was spoken of by these rough fellows. She continued this amateur work till she died, which she did in peace.

It is very touching the regard the south-country shepherds have to their dogs. Professor Syme one day, many years ago, when living in Forres Street, was looking out of his window, and he saw a young shepherd striding down North Charlotte Street, as if making for his house; it was midsummer. The man had his dog with him, and Mr. Syme noticed that he followed the dog, and not it him, though he contrived to steer for the house. He came, and was ushered into his room; he wished advice about some ailment, and Mr. Syme saw that he had a bit of twine round the dog's neck, which he let drop out of his hand when he entered the room. He asked him the meaning of this, and he explained that the magistrates had issued a mad-dog proclamation, commanding all dogs to be muzzled or led on pain of death. "And why do you go about as I saw you did before you came in to me?" "Oh," said he, looking awkward, "I did na want Birkie to ken he was tied." Where will you find truer courtesy and finer feeling ? He did n't want to hurt Birkie's feelings.

Mr. Carruthers of Inverness told me a new story of these wise sheep dogs. A butcher from Inverness had purchased some sheep at Dingwall, and giving them in charge to his dog, left the road. The dog drove them on, till coming to a toll, the toll-wife stood before the drove, demanding her dues. The dog looked at her, and, jumping on her back, crossed his forelegs over her arms. The sheep passed through, and the dog took his place behind them, and went on his way.


Of Rab I have little to say, indeed have little right to speak of him as one of "our dogs;" but nobody will be sorry to hear anything of that noble fellow. Ailie, the day or two after the operation, when she was well and cheery, spoke about him, and said she would tell me fine stories when I came out, as I promised to do, to see her at Howgate. I asked her how James came to get him. She told me that one clay she saw James coming down from Leadburn with the cart; he had been away west, getting eggs and butter, cheese and hens for Edinburgh. She saw he was in some trouble, and on looking, there was what she thought a young calf being dragged, or, as she called it, "haurled," at the back of the cart. James was in front, and when lie came up, very warm and very angry, she saw that there was a huge young dog tied to the cart, struggling and pulling back with all his might, and as she said "lookin' fearsom." James, who was out of breath and temper, being past his time, explained to Ailie, that this "muckle brute o' a whalp" had been worrying sheep, and terrifying everybody up at Sir George Montgomery's at Macbie Hill, and that Sir George had ordered him to be hanged, which, however, was sooner said than done, as "the thief " showed his intentions of dying hard. James came up just as Sir George had sent for his gun, and as the dog had more than once shown a liking for him, lie said he "wad gie him a chance;" and so lie tied him to his cart. Young Rab, fearing some mischief, had been entering a series of protests all the way, and nearly strangling himself to spite James and Jess, besides giving Jess more than usual to do. "I wish I had let Sir George pit that charge into him, the thrawn brute," said James. But Ailie had seen that in his foreleg there was a splinter of wood, which he had likely got when objecting to be hanged, and that he was miserably lame. So she got James to leave him with her, and go straight into Edinburgh. She gave him water, and by her woman's wit got his lame paw under a door, so that he could n't suddenly get at her, then with a quick firm hand she plucked out the splinter, and put in an ample meal. She went in some time after, taking no notice of him, and lie came limping up, and laid his great jaws in her lap; from that moment they were "chief," as she said, James finding him mansuete and civil when he returned.

She said it was Rab's habit to make his appearance exactly half an hour before his master, trotting in full of importance, as if to say, "He 's all right, he'll be here." One morning James came without him. He had left Edinburgh very early, and in coming near Auchindinny, at a lonely part of the road, a man sprang out on him, and demanded his money. James, who was a cool hand, said, "Weel a weel, let me get it," and stepping back, he said to Rab, "Speak till him, my man." In an instant Rab was standing over him, threatening strangulation if he stirred. James pushed on, leaving Rab in charge; he looked back, and saw that every attempt to rise was summarily put down. As he was telling Ailie the story, up came Rab with that great swing of his. It turned out that the robber was a Howgate lad, the worthless son of a neighbor, and Rab knowing him had let him cheaply off; the only thing, which was seen by a man from a field, was, that before letting him rise, lie quenched (pro tempore) the fire of the eyes of the ruffian, by a familiar Gulliverian application of Hydraulics, which I need not further particularize. James, who did not know the way to tell an untruth, or embellish anything, told me this as what he called "a fact positeevely."


Was a dark brindled bull terrier, as pure in blood as Cruiser or Wild Dayrell. She was brought by my brother from Otley, in the West Riding. She was very handsome, fierce, and gentle, with a small, compact, finely-shaped head, and a pair of wonderful eyes, — as full of fire and of softness as Grisi's; indeed she had to my eye a curious look of that wonderful genius — at once wild and fond. It was a fine sight to see her on the prowl across Bowden Moor, now cantering with her nose down, now gathered up on the top of a dyke, and with erect ears, looking across the wild like a moss-trooper out on business, keen and fell. She could do everything it became a dog to do, from killing an otter or a polecat, to watching and playing with a baby, and was as docile to her master as she was surly to all else. She was not quarrelsome, but "being in." she would have pleased Polonius as much, as in being "ware of entrance." She was never beaten, and she killed on the spot several of the country bullies who came out upon her when following her master in his rounds. She generally sent them off howling with one snap, but if this was not enough, she made an end of it.

But it was as a mother that she shone; and to see the gypsy, Hagar-like creature nursing her occasional Ishmael — playing with him, and fondling him all over, teaching his teeth to war, and with her eye and the curl of her lip daring any one but her master to touch him, was like seeing Grisi watching her darling "Gennaro," who so little knew why and how much she loved him.

Once when she had three pups, one of them died. For two days and nights she gave herself up to trying to bring it to life — licking it and turning it over and over, growling over it, and all but worrying it to awake it. She paid no attention to the living two, gave them no milk, flung them away with her teeth, and would have killed them, had they been allowed to remain with her. She was as one possessed, and neither ate, nor drank, nor slept, was heavy and miserable with her milk, and in such a state of excitement that no one could remove the dead pup.

Early on the third day she was seen to take the pup in her mouth, and start across the fields towards the Tweed, striding like a race-horse — she plunged in, holding up her burden, and at the middle of the stream dropped it and swain swiftly ashore; then she stood and watched the little dark lump floating away, bobbing up and down with the current, and losing it at last far down, she made her way home, sought out the living two, devoured them with her love, carried them one by one to her lair, and gave herself up wholly to nurse them; you can fancy her mental and bodily happiness and relief when they were pulling away — and theirs.

On one occasion my brother had lent her to a woman who lived in a lonely house, and whose husband was away for a time. She was a capital watch. One (lay an Italian with his organ came — first begging, then demanding money — showing that he knew she was alone and that he meant to help himself, if she did n't. She threatened to "lowse the dowg;" but as this was Greek to hint, he pushed on. She had just time to set Wasp at him. It was very short work. She had him by the throat, pulled him and his organ down with a heavy crash, the organ giving a ludicrous sort of cry of musical pain. Wasp, thinking this was from some creature within, possibly a whittret, left the ruffian, and set to work tooth and nail on the box. Its master slunk off, and with mingled fury and thankfulness watched her disemboweling his only means of an honest living. The woman good-naturedly took her off, and signed to the miscreant to make himself and his remains scarce. This he did with a scowl; and was found in the evening in the village, telling a series of lies to the watchmaker, and bribing him with a shilling to mend his pipes -"his kist o' whussels."


Was insane from his birth; at first an amabiLis insania, but ending in mischief and sudden death. He was an English terrier, fawn-colored; his mother's name VAMP (Vampire), and his father's DEMON. He was more properly daft than mad; his courage, muscularity, and prodigious animal spirits making him insufferable, and never allowing one sane feature of himself any chance. No sooner was the street door open, than he was throttling the first dog passing, bringing upon himself and me endless grief. Cats lie tossed up into the air, and crushed their spines as they fell. Old ladies he upset by jumping over their heads; old gentlemen by running between their legs. At home, lie would think nothing of leaping through the tea-things, upsetting the urn, cream, etc., and at dinner the same sort of thing. I believe if I could have found time to thrash him sufficiently, and let him n be a year older, we might have kept him; but having upset an Earl. when the streets were muddy, I had to part with him. He was sent to a clergyman in the island of Westray, one of the Orkneys; and though he had a wretched voyage, and was as sick as any dog, He signalized the first moment of his arrival at the manse by strangling an ancient monkey, or "puggy," the pet of the minister, — who was a bachelor, — and the wonder of the island. Jock henceforward took to evil courses, extracting the kidneys of the best young rams, driving whole hirsels down steep places into the sea, till at last all the guns of Westray were pointed at him, as he stood at bay under a huge rock on the shore, and blew him into space. I always regret his end, and blame myself for sparing the rod. Of


I have already spoken; her oddities were endless. We had and still have a dear friend,—"Cousin Susan" she is called by many who are not her cousins, —a perfect lady, and, though hopelessly deaf, as gentle and contented as was ever Griselda with the full use of her ears; quite as great a pet, in a word, of us all as Duchie was of ours. One day we found her mourning the death of a cat, a great playfellow of the Sputchard's, and her small Grace was with us when we were condoling with her and we saw that she looked very wistfully at Duchie. I wrote on the slate, "Would you like her?" and she through her tears said, "You know that would never do." But it did do. We left Duchie that very night, and though she paid us frequent visits, she was Cousin Susan's for life. I fear indulgence dulled her moral sense. She was an immense happiness to her mistress, whose silent and lonely days she made glad with her oddity and mirth. And yet the small creature, old, toothless, and blind, domineered over her gentle friend — threatening her sometimes if she presumed to remove the small Fury from the inside of her own bed, into which it pleased her to creep. Indeed, I believe it is too true, though it was inferred only, that her mistress and friend spent a great part of a winter night in trying to coax her dear little ruffian out of the centre of the bed. One day the cook asked what she would have for dinner: "I would like a mutton chop, but then, you know, Duchie likes minced veal better! " The faithful and happy little creature died at a great age, of natural decay.

But time would fail me, and I fear patience would fail you, my reader, were I to tell you of CRAB, of JOHN PYM, of PUCK, and of the rest. CRAB, the Mugger's dog, grave, with deep-set, melancholy eyes, as of a nobleman (say the Master of Ravenswood) in disguise, large visaged, shaggy, indomitable, come of the pure Piper Allan's breed. This Piper Allan, you must know, lived some two hundred years ago in Cocquet Water, piping like Homer, from place to place, and famous not less for his dog than for his music, his news, and his songs. The Earl of Northumberland, of his day, offered the piper a small farm for his dog, but after deliberating for a clay Allan said, "Na, na, ma Lord, keep yir ferum; what wud a piper do wi' a ferum?" From this dog descended Davidson of Hyndlee's breed, the original DandieDinmont, and Crab could count his kin up to him. He had a great look of the Right Honorable Edward Ellice, and had much of his energy and wecht; had there been a dog House of Commons, Crab would have spoken as seldom, and been as great a power in the house, as the formidable and faithful time-outof-mind member for Coventry.

JOHN PYM was a smaller dog than Crab, of more fashionable blood, being a son of Mr. Somner's famous SHEM, whose father and brother are said to have been found dead in a drain into which the hounds had run a fox. It had three entrances: the father was put in at one hole, the son at another, and speedily the fox bolted out at the third, but no appearance of the little terriers, and on digging, they were found dead, locked in each other's jaws; they had met, and it being dark, and there being no time for explanations, they had throttled each other. John was made of the same sort of stuff, and was as combative and victorious as his great namesake, and not unlike him in some of his not so creditable qualities. He must, I think, have been related to a certain dog to whom "life was full o' sairiousness," but in John's case the same cause produced an opposite effect. John was gay and light-hearted, even when there was not "enuff of fechtin," which, however, seldom happened, there being a market every week in Melrose, and John appearing most punctually at the cross to challenge all comers, and being short-legged he inveigled every dog into an engagement by first attacking him, and then falling down on his back. in which posture he latterly fought and won all his battles.

What can I say of PUCK [In The Dog, by Stonehenge, an excellent book, there is a woodcut of Puck, and "Dr. Wm. Brown's celebrated dog John Pym" is mentioned. Their pedigrees are given —here is Puck's, which shows his "strain" is of the pure azure blood -- "got by John Pym, out of Tib; bred by Purves of Leaderfoot; sire, Old Dandie, the famous dog of old John Stoddart of Selkirk — dam, Whin. "How Homeric all this sounds! I cannot help quoting what follows:" Sometimes a Dandie pup of a good strain may appear not to be game at an early age ; but he should not be parted with on this account, because many of them do not show their courage till nearly two years old, and then nothing can beat them; this apparent softness arising, as I suspect, from kindness of heart" — a suspicion, my dear "Stonehenge," which is true, and shows your own "kindness of heart," as well as sense.] the thoroughbred - the simple-hearted — the purloiner of eggs warm from the hen — the flutterer of all manner of Volscians — the bandy - legged, dear, old, dilapidated buffer? I got him from my brother, and only parted with him because William's stock was gone. He had to the end of life a simplicity which was quite touching. One summer day — a dog-day — when all dogs found straying were hauled away to the police-office, and killed off in twenties with strychnine, I met Pack trotting along Princes Street with a policeman, a rope round his neck, lie looking up in the fatal, official, but kindly countenance in the most artless and cheerful manner, wagging his tail and trotting along. In ten minutes he would have been in the next world; for I am one of those who believe dogs have a next world, and why not? Puck ended his days as the best dog in R,oxburghshire. Placide quiescas!


Still lives, and long may he live? As he was never born, possibly he may never die; be it so, he will miss us when we are gone. I could say much of him, but agree with the lively and admirable Dr. Jortin, when, in his dedication of his Remarks on Ecelesiastical History to the then (1752) Archbishop of Canterbury, he excuses himself for not following the modern custom of praising his Patron, by reminding his Grace "that it was a custom amongst the ancients, not to sacrifice to heroes till after sunset." I defer my sacrifice till Dick's sun is set.

I think every family should have a dog; it is like having a perpetual baby; it is the plaything and crony of the whole house. It keeps them all young. All unite upon Dick. And then he tells no tales, betrays no secrets, never sulks, asks no troublesome questions, never gets into debt, never coining down late for breakfast, or coming in through his Chubb too early to bed — is always ready for a bit of fun, lies in wait for it, and you may, if choleric, to your relief, kick him instead of some one else, who would not take it so meekly, and, moreover, would certainly not, as he does, ask your pardon for being kicked.

Never put a collar on your dog -- it only gets him stolen; give him only one meal a day, and let that, as Dame Dorothy, Sir Thomas Browne's wife, would say, be "rayther under." Wash him once a week, and always wash the soap out; and let him be carefully combed and brushed twice a week.

By the bye, I was wrong in saying that it was Burns who said Man is the God of the Dog — he got it from Bacon's Essay on Atheism.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus