This section is from the book "All About Dogs - A Book For Doggy People", by Charles Henry Lane. Also available from Amazon: All About Dogs: A Book For Doggy People.
In these days of progress, when the tendency of everyone, and everything, seems to be to go ahead and try to outdo all that has been done by everyone else, in fact, as we so often see it termed, "to beat the record," I think I am stating only the actual fact, that, in the history of the world, dogs were never so highly thought of as they are now, nor were they ever so catered for, in a variety of ways, nor so generally popular.
And when we consider the many varieties of the species, differing as much as is possible in the members of one family, and the appearance, habits, dispositions, uses and characteristics, just as various, it is not to be wondered at that they enjoy such an amount of public favour, as it must be a strangely constituted human being to whom no breed of dog is acceptable!
The numerous packs of stag and foxhounds, harriers, beagles, and other hounds, kept throughout the United Kingdom, not only are the means of providing an immense amount of sport for our countrymen, but are, also, directly and indirectly the cause of the great improvements which have been effected in the breed of our horses, particularly those suited for hunters and cover hacks, and, therefore, the cause, also, of the circulation of a vast amount of money in our own country every year, especially amongst farmers, millers, saddlers, hay and corn dealers, trainers, keepers, kennel-meri, groons, helpers and a large number of others, more or less connected with hunting and its surroundings.
To take another branch of the same subject, just consider what a large body of men are interested and employed in the breeding, rearing, and training of the vast number of high class greyhounds, which are kept in some parts of the country, not only for the competitions in the important national events, but, even for private owners, who make a hobby of an occasional trial with their dogs. Then again, the great army of keepers, kennelmen, and gillies, kept throughout the kingdom, to look after and, in some cases, to breed, and break, the deerhounds, pointers, setters, retrievers, and spaniels, which add so much to the pleasure of a true sportsman's daily work amongst game of all kinds, from deer-stalking to shooting black-cock, grouse, partridges, pheasants, etc. (although many persons now-a-days seem to go on the principle of getting a big total of the days, or weeks' "shoot," and care little for the real pleasure of seeing the dogs "work," and do credit, or otherwise, to care and attention devoted to their training), obtain employment, and I have found them, as a rule, a highly respectable class of men, often generations of the same family being in the service of one family, and most jealous of the reputation of the master, his dogs, and covers.
To take some of our other utility dogs, those of my readers who have visited the cattle market of any large sized town or city, cannot have failed to notice the dogs which attend the professional drovers there, many of them rough looking enough, in all conscience, but, as for intelligence, why, they are brimful of it, and willing and able to do wonders with the cattle and sheep in the open, or on the road afterwards, understanding the few words said to them, and eager to carry out their orders, and although sometimes erring through excess of zeal, the reverse is seldom the case, and I am pleased to say (as I have known and conversed with many of the men who are acquainted with my love for animals, and know what numbers I have bred and owned), that the greater part of them value their dogs, and appreciate their services, so much so, that what might be considered really big offers, have frequently been refused by them. One of them said to me, "What good, sir, for me to take a ten pound note for 'Bess,' I couldn't do nothing without she, and 'twould take me a doose of a time to make another larn to do like she can, with the beasts, and that, let alone her being such a 'pal,' and my missus, she do think a deal of Bess, to be sure sir".
I have no doubt, that a great many varieties of dog have been pressed into the service of the many and some highly accomplished troupes of performing dogs, which the great increase of music halls throughout the kingdom as well as the continent have brought forward. I have at different times seen Great Danes, Scotch Deer Hounds, Dalmatians, Poodles, and many members of some of the Terrier and Spaniel families and hosts of undoubted mongrels taking part in these entertainments, as well as occasionally Greyhounds and Collies, but these were, I think, exclusively engaged in jumping competitions, when a sort of steeplechase was arranged. These come under the category of "utility dogs," as they assist their owners in gaining a living, and the same may be said of the blind men's dogs, which are a great multitude, and enjoy freedom from taxation, on the ground of their value to their helpless owners.
Another interesting class of utility dogs are those we see at so many of our railway stations and other public places with a small box hanging under their chins, in which may be placed any donations the charitable are disposed to give to the "Railway Servants' Benevolent Association," or some other charitable object, and from the way the animals run up to passengers, to be noticed, and wait, patiently, while a coin is found, and placed in their boxes, gives one the idea they know what is going on, and that the credit of a "good haul" at the end of the day, will be in some measure reflected on the carrier of the collecting box! I have often been surprised to see mentioned, in the newspapers, the large sums a single dog has been the means of gathering, in this way, for some good object, and, for aught I know, there may have been dogs hard at work, during 1898-9, for "The Prince of Wales's Hospital Fund," or other charitable objects!
One use to which dogs were formerly put, as "Turnspits," and another as beasts of burden, I am pleased to say are no longer allowed by law. I have often, when a child, seen them employed in the latter capacity in the West of England, drawing small, usually two-wheeled carts, with not only the usual market stock and trade utensils, but sometimes the owner, in shape of a burly man or woman seated on the top, and not unfrequently racing along country roads with the owners of similar vehicles, often with two or three dogs to each, harnessed in tandem fashion, the noise and excitement of the cavalcade being very great, and announcing their approach long before their coming in sight. I am very pleased that both these abuses of dogs have been abolished here, although as beasts of burden they are still extensively employed on the continent of Europe, and, I am bound to say, I have not seen them ill treated, badly fed, or seeming neglected.
Of course, we know that in the Arctic regions dogs, as carriers, are actual necessaries, and that locomotion, difficult and dangerous enough there under any circumstances, would be simply impossible without the aid of the Esquimaux dogs, of which I have seen a good deal, and handled many. They have a dense double coat, are very wolf-like in expression and shape of head, with small, pointed ears, oblique, sly-looking eyes, rather long, arched necks, and tails with characteristic curl and carriage. I do not consider them very sociable, but they would, I dare say, be all right with persons they knew well. I fancy they are a breed that has never been "made much of," (particularly in their native lands,) by their owners, but usually get what is popularly known as "more kicks than halfpence," and when "off duty," have often to go on short commons, or do a little cadging on their own account, and being thrown on their own resources, we know (on the authority of the late immortal "Mr. Weller, Senr." evidenced in the case of his well known son "Sam!") has a great tendency to sharpen the wits, and it is the same with the Esquimaux dogs, who always struck me as very suspicious of attentions from strangers, however well intentioned they may be.