This section is from the book "A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland. (Sporting Division)", by Rawdon Briggs Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: Sporting Division.
"With ears erect and nose in the air, this fine dog seemed to take as much interest in the sport as any of us. Though the barking and baying hounds in the coverts came nearer every second, he never moved a muscle nor made a sound. Suddenly a big, black wolf rushed out of the scrub, gave one glance around, then started off for the next covert a mile away.
"All the dogs tugged at their leashes; but not till the wolf had a clear start of two hundred yards did the head chasseur's bugle ring out. It was Dimitri's call; and as he was loosed, he gave one fierce howl and then bounded silently away.
"With such tremendous energy did he start that his feet hardly seemed to touch the ground. Every leap seemed longer than the last; and as he grew smaller in the distance, he looked like a big rubber ball bouncing over the plain. In less than a minute he had overtaken the wolf and seized him by the neck under the right ear. A cloud of dust flew up as dog and wolf rolled over and over; but when it cleared away, we saw that Dimitri had brought the beast to a standstill. His chasseur had followed him as quickly as his horse would run. On coming up the man jumped down, and, getting astride of the wolf, fastened a strong muzzle over its jaws, secured a chain round round its neck and dragged the now skulking animal back to where the cage stood.
"In the meantime other wolves had been started, and several of the dogs were hard at work. When two were loosed in pursuit of one wolf, they ran alongside of him, one on each side, until a favourable opportunity offered, when, with a sudden snap, one would seize the creature. As the wolf turned to try to free himself, the other would get a grip that prevented him from moving at all.
"So surely and neatly did these dogs do their work that not one was bitten, although no animals can do quicker or more damaging work with their jaws than wolves.
"Seven wolves were driven out of that covert, but only two were thought to be worth keeping. They were put in the cage, and we moved on to the next likely spot. In the course of the day the dogs caught sixteen wolves, not one got away when fairly out of cover, and we returned to the lodge with five fine live wolves.
"While discussing the ways of wolves that evening after dinner, one of us ventured to express a doubt whether even Dimitri could successfully face a wolf at bay. The speaker was satisfied that the dog could seize and hold a running wolf, but did not believe he could avoid the savage attack such an animal makes when cornered. Before we left next morning he was convinced of his error. The largest captured wolf was turned loose in an inclosed yard, and Dimitri was set on him. Seeing himself trapped, the wolf did not wait for the dog to attack, but rushed straight at him.
"The two animals met and closed, rolling over and over; but when the struggles ceased, Dimitri had the wolf securely by the neck, and had not received a scratch. Our friend, the chasseur en chef, offered to bring out other hounds that could do this feat as well as Dimitri; but we were convinced.
As our time was up, we departed, regretting that we could not take a few of the Czar's wolfhounds away with us."
Following the publication of Mr. Lowe's article some correspondence ensued, and Colonel Wellesley forwarded an interesting communication he had received from Prince Obolensky on the subject. His Royal Highness, who has a famous strain of Borzoi of his own, and may be taken as a leading authority on the breed, says :
"The dogs that have been catalogued at various shows in England for the last three years are pure Borzoi, and have come originally from the best kennels in Russia. For instance, Krilutt, Pagooba, Sobol, Zloeem, and others were not ordinary working hounds, but dogs that were admired in their native country, both on the show bench and in the field. Pagooba, for example, who is of exceptional size for a bitch, has several times pinned wolves single-handed.
"The English traveller mentions the size - viz., 32m. - of the dogs he saw as tremendous. There are exceptional cases where the Borzoi has stood very near that height. At the dog show in Moscow this year a dog called Pilai measured 31½ in., or 80 centimetres; but the average height is from 28m. to 29½ in. It often proves to be the case, however, that, for working purposes, the smaller dog shows itself to excel in speed, pluck, and tenacity.
"For wolf hunting I personally prefer the English greyhound, acclimatised here (i.e. born in Russia from English parents); but I am also a great admirer of the Russian rough-coated Borzoi. I may claim to know something about the latter, because for many years I have bred and hunted them, and my dogs are the lineal descendants of those bred by my grandfather, General Bibikoff, who was himself renowned for his sporting proclivities, and for the excellence of his breed of dogs. So valued is that strain now, that it can be found in most of the best kennels in Russia."