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.
The natural love of fun and inclination for being taught almost anything of the Irish Water Spaniel is well known, so that I think the following account by Mr. Lindhoe, R. E., at one time a keen fancier and exhibitor, of his Rake and Blaeney, may be interesting to my readers.
He writes: "Rake is a very clever dog and can be taught almost any trick. He is very tender-mouthed and can dive and bring up an egg, unbroken, from a depth of twelve feet or more. It is very amusing also to see him take sixpence out of a bucket of water, as he sometimes has his head under nearly two minutes before picking it up. I taught him a very clever trick which used to cause much amusement at the shows. Whenever he was disturbed by any one poking at him with a stick to make him rouse up and show himself, he would rise gently, put his fore paws on the shoulders of the disturber of his rest, and before it was guessed what idea he had in view, seize and take off the man's hat and deposit it in the pan of water, or on the straw in his pen. Blaeney also is wonderfully clever, and a splendid hand at sport on land or in water. After a game of croquet is finished, she invariably brings in the hoops, mallets, balls, etc., and places them in their proper box in the hall. Once when I was engaged in separating four large Mastiffs who were fighting, she came to my rescue, and considering the best way of rendering assistance, seized the most stubborn of the combatants by the tail and held on till the fight was stopped.
She would retrieve very long distances and often surprised people by seizing some stick or other article, which had been put down on purpose for her to fetch, and they had unknowingly picked up. I have frequently known both these dogs jump into the water from a distance of nearly thirty feet".
I remember, on a recent occasion, when I had promised to judge at one of our largest London shows, having the impression the show opened on the Tuesday, I went up on the Monday, and did not discover my mistake until I got to the hotel I usually patronised for any show in that part of the metropolis, but as I have always any amount of places and people to see, I own I did not trouble about the matter, and had nearly forgotten it until at the show I met a gentleman also hailing from the same part of England and a well-known light in the Beagle world, who said: "I did an unusual thing this time, came up a day too soon, and I shall get a pretty 'roasting ' over it." I replied: "I also did the same for the first time, in a long experience of Dog shows, but do not expect any 'roasting.' " He said, "Oh, but my wife will know it, if no one else does, and she will never forget it." I answered, "Neither my wife, nor any one else, will know it, from me,as I don't believe (any more than the late Mr. Sam Weller) in telling matters against myself." But as I see the gentleman referred to has followed the example of the late Mr. Silas Wegg (in Our Mutual Friend) and "dropped into poetry," in the pages of a well known fancier's paper, it may amuse some of our mutual friends if I quote the lines here:
Two L's went up, a Lordly Lane.
To visit Cruft, his Show And scorning both the wind, and rain,
Were early, "on the go".
They both hail from the Sunny West,
And, both, their locks, are grey, But spite of this, may I be blessed,
They, both, mistook the day!
The one, a Judge, of well-known fame,
But not, a Judge, of days, The other, but, a Judge of Game,
In all its gamey ways.
So eager were they for the fray,
To be in time, for Sport, They both arrived, upon the day,
The day, before, they ought!
Many of the older exhibitors will remember the late Mr. I. H. Murchison, F. R. G. S., whose large and successful kennel of St. Bernards, Dandies, and Fox Terriers, was for so many years in the front rank at all the leading shows? As I was much mixed up in the two last named varieties, I used constantly to be in his company, and that of his son, also a keen and capable fancier. I remember on one occasion meeting him at a show, I forget where it was, now, I think in the London district, but amongst the dogs he had there was a young and very promising Fox Terrier, called "Cracknel," with which he had carried all before him, and he showed me a letter he had received from a gentleman then, as now, in the front rank of Fox Terrier breeders, and exhibitors, offering him £270 for the dog, and he said, since receipt of the letter, the writer had offered to make it "even money" (£300), at that time, quite a fancy price for a specimen of that breed. He said, "What would you advise me to do about it?" I said, "Why take it, without hesitation, it is a tempting price, the life of all dogs is uncertain, and show dogs, especially, and it will do your kennel more good to have sold a dog from it, at such a figure, than anything you can gain, in any other way." However, he refused the offer, and Cracknel not long afterwards rushed into a hayfield after a rabbit, or rat, and so cut himself with a scythe hidden in the long grass that he had to be sewn up and was long in the veterinary surgeon's care and was never in the front rank again!
I have known many such cases of good offers being refused to the prejudice of the dog's owners. I remember a well-known lady exhibitor coming up to me at a show with a telegram she had just received from America, offering her £150 for a prize winning pug she had, and asking my advice. I strongly advised her to take it, as it was far more than the market value of the dog, but, in the end, she sent back a refusal. Other dogs came forward, and put her dog into the rear rank, and she afterwards sold it for, I think, about £20.
Mr. Edwin Nichols, of whom I have spoken in relation to several large breeds, was one of the first men to get large prices for his dogs, as it must be quite twenty years or more since he received so he told me, £900 for two dogs, one of them being the well known Mastiff, "Turk," one of the grandest specimens of his day, and the other a high class Bloodhound.