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.
They brought the bread, meat, or cards, as commanded, but did not attempt to eat any of the two former, unless ordered to do so. Philax was then desired to fetch a piece of meat and give it to Brac, and then Brac was told to give it back to Philax, who was to return it to its place. Philax was next told he might bring a piece of bread and eat it, but before he had time to swallow it, his master forbade him and desired him to show he had obeyed orders, and the dog instantly protruded the crust between his lips. While some of these feats were being performed, Mr. Leonard loudly cracked a whip occasionally, to prove that the animals were so completely under discipline that they would give no heed to any noises or interruptions.
After many other performances Mr. Leonard invited Mr. Blanc, a gentleman present, to play a game of dominoes with one of his dogs, which he consented to do. The younger dog, Brac, seated himself on a chair at the table and Messrs. Leonard and Blanc seated themselves opposite. Six dominoes were placed on their edges, in the usual way, before the dog and the same number before Mr. Blanc. The dog having amongst its numbers a double number, took it up in its mouth and dropped it in the centre of the table, Mr. Blanc added a single number to one side of it, the dog at once played another correctly, and so on, till all the pieces were used up. A fresh lot of six dominoes were then served out to each competitor and Mr. Blanc (just to test the dog) intentionally put a wrong number in the course of the game. The dog looked surprised and excited, stared hard at Mr. Blanc, growled, and finally barked loudly. Finding no notice taken of his remonstrances, he then pushed away the wrong domino, with his nose, and put a right number, from amongst his own, in its place. Mr. Blanc afterwards continued the play correctly and the game was won by the dog. Not the slightest hint or information appeared to be given by Mr. Leonard to the dog.
This method of playing a game of dominoes must have been entirely the result of his individual observation and judgment. The performance was strictly private throughout, the owner of the dogs was a gentleman of independent fortune, and had taken up the instruction of his dogs merely as a curious and amusing investigation as to the cultivated intelligence of animals.
Plutarch relates that, at the Theatre of Marcellus, a dog was exhibited before the Emperor Vespasian so well taught, as to perform the figures and steps of every (then) known kind of dance. He afterwards feigned illness in a most singular manner, so as to strike the spectators with astonishment. He first exhibited various symptoms of pain, then fell down as if dead, afterwards seemed to revive, gradually, as if waking from a profound sleep and then frisked and sported about, giving meanwhile various demonstrations of joy and delight.
It is surprising the antipathy which sometimes exists between inmates of the same kennels, I have had several instances of it in the course of a long experience with most breeds. I remember some years ago I had a Skye Terrier bitch, called "Wasp," and a Pepper Dandie bitch, known as "Hornet," which we generally characterised as "The Insects," and very stinging insects they were, if they happened to meet. One day when I was driving in the dog cart to the railway station, at that time about a six-mile drive to the nearest town to where I was living, and as we were going along, I thought I heard a humming sound, and said to my kennelman who was with me, "Jump down, Hale, I believe those Insects are at it!" and I was right. They had eaten through the sides of their baskets, and got at each other, through the holes, and were fairly enjoying themselves on the journey. We managed to keep them apart the rest of the way to the show they were bound for. I cannot recall what the place was, but I well remember that "Hornet," who although quite a little creature, was a perfect demon with others of her own race, though sweet tempered, and most engaging with human beings, broke three chains I bought there, two of them new ones, in order to get again at "Wasp," before they left the show to return home.
Their portraits appear in one of my pictures with pony, my children and dogs, and are very like them.
In these days, when so much has been attempted and done, in connection with expeditions to the Arctic regions, the following account by the late Captain Parry, R. N. in the Journal of his second voyage, may be interesting as giving a lively and accurate description of the manner in which Esquimaux Dogs are managed in the sleighing operations in those inclement climes.
"When drawing a sledge," says he, "the dogs have a simple harness of reindeer or seal skin, going round the neck of one bight and another for each of the fore legs, with a single thong leading over the back, and attached to the sledge, as a trace.
"Though they appear, at first sight, to be huddled together without any regard to regularity, there is, in fact, considerable attention paid to their arrangement, particularly in the selection of a dog of peculiar spirit and sagacity, who is allowed by a longer trace, to precede all the rest, as Leader, and to whom, in turning to the right or left, the driver usually addresses himself.
"This choice is made without regard to age or sex, and the rest of the dogs take precedency according to their training or sagacity, the least effective being put nearest the sledge.
"The leader is, usually, from eighteen to twenty feet from the fore part of the sledge and the hindmost dog about half that distance, so that, when ten or twelve are running together several are nearly abreast of each other.
"The driver sits quite low on the front part of the sledge, with his feet overhanging the snow on one side, and having in his hand a whip, of which the handle is plaited a little way down to stiffen it, and give it a spring, on which much of its use depends, and that which composes the lash is chewed by the women to make it flexible in frosty weather.