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.
And to show what a fine judge he was as to the strains to breed, I remember an instance he gave me from his extensive experience. He met a friend one day to whom he had sold a Bloodhound bitch puppy, who said, "Mr. Nichols, I wish you would take back that puppy I had from you, it is always doing mischief in the garden, etc., and I wish to get rid of it." Mr. Nichols said, "I really don't want it, I have a lot of dogs of all ages, and I am more a seller than a buyer at present." To make a long story short, he eventually took back the young bitch for £10, afterward mating her to one of his best dogs, and he told me that he sold that litter, which produced two if not three champions, for over one thousand pounds. I say, that a man who could do such a thing, proved himself a consummate judge, and I have not the slightest doubt of the truth of the story, and, when he named the dogs in the litter to me, I knew what grand specimens of the breed they were.
I have mentioned the "Warwick Shows" of days gone by, and what charming re-unions they were. I think the incident which follows must have been at the first of them, for although I had known Mr. Nichols by sight and name, I did not think I was known to him.
I remember I had reached Warwick in the afternoon, engaged a bed at the Globe Hotel (where they told me mine was a double bedded room, and I stipulated that the other bed should not be occupied without my consent), and went to the show, and meeting with many friends there, it was late when I got back. I then found Mr. Nichols waiting to see who I was, as it seemed the other bed in my room was the only one unoccupied in the town. I had not left my name, and the hotel people's description did not enlighten him, but he said,
"Whoever it is, if he knows anything about dogs, or doggy men, he will know me!" and so it proved. We had, as always afterwards whenever we met, a long talk on subjects congenial to us both, and he secured the "last bed of Warwick!"
Amongst the many weaknesses to which I plead guilty, is a devoted admiration of the works of the late Charles Dickens, some of which came out in their green coloured numbers, while I was a schoolboy, and it was the delight of my brothers and self, to sit and listen to them being read out to us by our dear mother, who had a gift in that direction. I hope my readers will pardon my giving here, a very short doggy story, from Pickwick Papers, in the pithy, disjointed sentences of "Mr. Alfred Jingle," as I wish to give something, however slight, about nearly every breed, and the anecdotes about Pointers are not very numerous. "Ah! you should keep dogs, fine animals, sagacious creatures. Dog of my own once, Pointer, surprising instinct, out shooting one day, entering enclosure, whistled, dog stopped, whistled again, Ponto! no go; stock still, called him,'Ponto, Ponto,' no go, stock still, wouldn't move, dog transfixed, staring at a board, looked up, saw an inscription, ' Gamekeeper has orders to shoot all dogs found in this enclosure,' wouldn't pass it, wonderful dog, valuable dog that, very. 'Singular circumstance that,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'Will you allow me to make a note of it? ' ' Certainly, sir, certainly, hundred more anecdotes of the same animal.' "
At the risk of its being considered "a chestnut," I will here recount the story of the dogs of Oldacre, so well told by the late William Howitt, in his "Boys' Country Book" (one of the prime favourites of my boyhood). "This story brings to my recollection, those two noble dogs at Oldacre, two grand Setters that Squire Mills used always to have at his heels, whether it was shooting season or not, just one the picture of the other, as like as pin to pin or pear to pear!
Well, Squire Mills had an estate in Oxfordshire, a hundred miles off at least; and there he used to go twice a year to receive his rents, and he never went, while he had those dogs, without taking one of them with him. When the dog was tired he let him go up into his chaise and ride, and when he was tired of riding, the dog leaped out and jogged along again till he was tired again.
Squire Mills always stopped at the Mitre Inn at Oxford, and it so happened, on one occasion, that as his Setter followed him up the stable yard, a great mastiff, which was chained to a kennel, suddenly rushed out, seized on the Setter, and before he could be beaten off, had very severely worried him. Squire Mills was very angry, and the innkeeper made many apologies, but that did not cure the dog's wounds, and the Squire, who said he would rather have given five pounds than the dog had been so used, set off homeward in no very good humour.
The dog, which seemed very much hurt, lay whining and appearing very uneasy, in the bottom of the chaise, all the way home, and when they got there the keeper was ordered to pay every attention to him, and do all that he could for him. But the dog lay in his kennel for more than a week, and seemed in a very poor way, indeed. He would not eat, and the keeper was very doubtful what would be the upshot of it, when, one morning he was very much surprised to find, both he and his fellow dog missing.
All inquiries were made, but nothing could be heard of them and it was concluded they were stolen. The squire immediately offered five and twenty guineas for the discovery of the thief; but no thief was heard of, or the dogs either, till a week afterwards, when they again entered the yard, but two such poor jaded, worn-down creatures as never were seen.
They were, apparently, starved to the very point of death, covered with dust, and in fact, in such a condition that notwithstanding all that could be done, they both died in the course of a few days. On examining them after death, they appeared to have been shot at, various shot-corns being found in their skins.
Nothing, however, came to light about it; and on the next rent day the Squire made his journey into Oxfordshire without either of his favourite dogs.