This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
I was introduced to another particularly game wire-haired terrier a couple of years ago, whilst on a visit to a friend at Watford. This dog, Jack (Powderham Jack in the Stud Books), running about the house blind and terribly scarred, evidently being a favourite with his owner, Mr. W. H. B. Schrieber, I inquired the history of his wounds, and this was as follows : When six years old, one day in November, Jack was put into a badger earth about 12 o'clock, and as he did not stay very long in one place, seemingly hustling the badger about underground, a bitch was sent in to assist him, with the idea that she might corner the game. As it happened there were two badgers in the earth, the bitch finding one of them not far underground, and near to where a trench was being dug. This badger, however, shifted his position, and when the bitch came out of the earth nothing, for a time, could be detected of the old dog. Then he was heard "baying" a long way in the earth, but as evening approached and it began to grow dark, all was quite quiet again.
Assistance was obtained from the neighbouring village in order that Jack should be reached if possible, and just as a relay of diggers arrived the terrier was faintly heard not far from one of the openings, and here he was found, so terribly exhausted as to be almost incapable of crawling out. He had been underground for six and a half hours, and was of course severely bitten and torn. The nature of his injuries was not however discovered till next day, when, having been taken home, surgical assistance was called in. The veterinarian gave little hopes of recovery, as Jack was so terribly punished through the lower jaw, it being likened to a sieve, so full of open wounds was it, made by the badger's claws. The game dog had made himself a great favourite; he was carefully nursed and well cared for; during three weeks some one sat up with him nightly, and he was fed at intervals with beef tea, etc, administered by the aid of a spoon held far down below the tongue, as anything given in the usual way flowed out through the holes the badger had caused. In due course Jack recovered, but one of his eyes had been bitten through, and the sight of the other went, either through "sympathy" or by the carbolic acid used in dressing the wounds, which for a long time had seemed likely to mortify.
Now comes the extraordinary part of the story. The next day Mr. Schrieber was not able to revisit the earths, which had been duly blocked and stopped with faggots. On the second day he returned; a terrier at once went to ground and marked; spades were requisitioned, and in due course the end of the earth was reached. Here a female badger was found dead and cold; her companion whilst fighting with the terrier was captured. The badger which Jack had doubtless killed weighed 261b., and on being skinned every bone in her chest and all her ribs were found to be broken, though she showed no outer marks excepting such as would be made by the dog's teeth, and where the latter had bruised the flesh. On another occasion Jack found himself in an earth between two badgers, one fighting him in front, the other in the rear, but he did not flinch, and, as the diggers reached their game in less than a quarter of an hour, when they were safely bagged, the terrier was not much the worse for his unequal combat.
Powderham Jack came to Mr. Schrieber from Devonshire, he being purchased from Mr. Damarell, but Mr. P. Gilbert, near Birmingham, was supposed to be the breeder. In his early days he won several prizes on the show bench, and when grown too wide in front for the show, Mr. Schrieber obtained perhaps the gamest terrier he ever owned. During little more than the twelve months, from the time he went to Watford to when he received the terrible injuries which resulted in blindness, Jack did more than his share in the capture of twenty badgers. On his sire's side he was descended from Champion Broom and Jack Terry's Wasp, but his dam's pedigree could never be ascertained. He was never known to give tongue underground unless he had either a fox or badger in front of him.
Some of the earlier wire-haired terriers were remarkably savage and bad tempered, or perhaps it was the writer's unfortunate lot to possess such. However, about seventeen years ago I had one sent me from Shropshire, which originally came from the huntsman of the Albrighton hounds. Anyhow, rare good-looking dog though he seemed, his excellence was sadly marred by his detestable disposition. He was never safe, and always as willing to growl at his owner as to take a piece out of the leg of a tramp or anyone else. Entered for Darlington Show at a few pounds, if he was not sold I had promised him as a present to a friend; as it happened he won the first prize and the special cup, and was at once claimed by a well-known admirer of the breed. Avenger (the dog's name) was a little high on the legs, 181b. weight, straight in front and terrier-like in head, with a hard jacket but not much of it. I need scarcely say he did not need trimming, or "faking," to make him look his best.
Owing to some cause or other, the wire-haired fox terrier has occupied longer in popularising himself than the smooth-coated one. For years he was without a class at any of the shows, and when he became so important as to be honoured by being so provided, he was relegated to the non-sporting division! Birmingham gave him his first class in 1872, nine years subsequent to the time when the smooth variety had been prominently brought forward. Some of the Stud Books have the wire-haired fox terrier entered amongst non-sporting dogs, sandwiched between the Pomeranians and Bedlingtons, and so he continued till 1875, whilst a little earlier the same reference volume mixes the wire-haired fox terriers with the Irish terriers. Here is reason for a delay in popularisation, which undoubtedly arose from the incompetence of some of the judges who were asked to give their opinions of the breed, and whose knowledge thereof was quite on a par with what it might be with regard to white elephants and crocodiles. My nerves never received so severe a shock at any show as they did at Curzon Hall in 1872, when the first prize for wire-haired terriers was withheld through "want of merit," though in the class was that reliable and undoubted specimen Venture, then shown by Mr. Gordon Sanderson, of Cottingham, near Hull. Mr. J. Nisbet, a reputed judge of Dandie Dinmonts, gave this foolish decision, which, however, did not lower the dog one iota in the eyes of those who knew his excellence; and Mr. W. Carrick, of Carlisle, subsequently became his owner, and made him useful in the foundation of a kennel of terriers which for excellence has not yet been surpassed.