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All About Dogs

( Originally Published Early 1900's )[an error occurred while processing this directive]

(Canis familiaris)

Dogs are, and since long before the beginning of history, must have been the friends and companions of man, and figures of these animals are found among the earliest stone-cuttings and paintings of the ancient Egyptians. Even at that distant day, many different varieties of dogs were known, and certain ones are easily distinguished upon their sculptures, the Grey-hound, in particular, being unmistakable. This animal was used then as now, for coursing, or running down, small game, which it was easily able to do on account of its extraordinary speed. At present there are several varieties of that species, and among them the Russian Greyhound, having long silky hair, and the Scotch Deerhound, a rough-coated type, are especially noteworthy.

A prominent variety of dog, the Foxhound, has for many years been kept in large packs, both in England and the United States, for the purpose of running foxes to earth. Much time and money are spent on their education, and great rivalry exists between different packs to determine which is superior. In this country both English and American hounds are used, the latter being simply a longer-legged and more slender animal than the old English hound.

The Bloodhound is a well-known variety about which much interest centres owing to the custom of using it to track criminals. While it bears an evil reputation, it is in reality not savage and will not often attack the person pursued, but merely tracks him as it would any other game. The Bloodhound's power of scent is extraordinary, and it can follow a trail that is several days old.

The large and handsome St. Bernard originated in Switzerland in the monasteries of that name. These huge dogs, closely resembling the Newfoundlands, are trained by the monks of that country to rescue travellers lost in the snow while crossing the steep mountain passes in various parts of Switzerland. A small box containing food and drink is fastened to the dog's neck and he is sent out on these expeditions. When a half-frozen traveller is found by this intelligent animal, it approaches, digs away the snow, and allows him to take from its neck the food and drink which have been provided, then, returning at top speed to the monastery, leads men who are on the watch back to the traveller, who is thus rescued and taken care of until the storm abates. In other countries, the St. Bernard is simply a canine aristocrat, his duties consisting merely in allowing himself to be admired. As a rule these dogs are not particularly tractable, and, owing to their large size and some-what disagreeable disposition, are apt to be rather dangerous.

The Dingo, found in Australia, is a small but handsome wild dog, reddish-brown in colour, carrying its tail tightly curled over its back. When settlers first introduced sheep into that country, the Dingo proved a terrible enemy to them and destroyed so many that a bounty was put upon its head, and consequently of late years they are not nearly so numerous.

The Eskimo dog resembles in general form and colouring the grey wolf, of whom it is no doubt a descendant. It differs from that animal, however, in that it has a long, curly tail, while that of the wolf is straight and stands stiffly out from the body. This dog is of great use to the Eskimos and white men living in the cold countries of the North, where it is trained to drag sledges, sometimes for hundreds of miles, over the ice and frozen snow. It is rather snappy and disagreeable in disposition, probably as a result of harsh treatment and lack of food, but those brought to the United States have proved perfectly gentle, although a little wild and shy. A wolf-like trait is their habit of howling instead of barking. The amount of cold these animals can endure without freezing to death is truly remarkable, and travellers in the North often tell of digging them out from snow-drifts in the morning after a terribly cold night. As long as their food-supply is ample they seem able to stand the very low temperature, but their lot is altogether a hard one. These dogs have been of much service to prospectors and miners in opening up the Klondike region of our own country.

In some European countries several varieties of domestic dog are used as beasts of burden, particularly in Holland, Belgium, and some parts of Germany. The lot of these poor creatures is miserable in the extreme, as the little wagons they are obliged to draw are very heavy for them and they are often roughly treated and ill-used generally.

Of recent years many interesting articles have appeared describing the training of dogs for military use as carriers of messages, sentries, aiders of the wounded, and so on. This use of the animals is said to have begun in Algiers by the French, and after-wards adopted in Prussia, Italy, Austria, and throughout the world. For carrying despatches, the dogs have a small pack attached to the collar, and the dog is trained to attack any who attempt to re-move it except the proper officers. To shoot these dogs while carrying messages is extremely difficult, as they are taught to take advantage of cover, sneaking through tall grass and finding shelter behind fences or rocks, or fallen trees.

For sentry duty a species of dog having keenness of scent is used, as this makes them particularly valuable for keeping watch after dark. Since they can discover the approach of the enemy at a very great distance, these dogs are trained to call attention by low growls, rather than barking.

With the modern rapid-fire rifles, it is difficult to keep the firing-line supplied with ammunition, and dogs are used as ammunition carriers with great success, some of them carrying as much as three hundred cartridges in a sort of pack-saddle. At the firing-line the dogs run up and down to distribute their supply, going after new cartridges as soon as their load is taken from them.

As assistants to the Red Cross service, dogs are especially useful in finding the wounded and guiding the men of the ambulance corps to their aid. At night these hospital dogs carry little lanterns attached to their backs so they can be easily followed.

The African Wild Dog, or Cape Hunting-Dog (Lycaon pictus), is a distinct genus and species, but in character and habits is much like the true dog or wolf. It is a singular-looking animal, the colour being a curious mixture of white, black, and yellow, irregularly spotted over the body and legs; the tail, which, like a wolf, it holds out stiffly, bearing the same colours. The legs are long and muscular, the body very light in build, head broad, muzzle short, and the ears thick, round and enormously large. This animal shows extraordinary persistence in running down large game, usually hunting in packs. A single specimen, however, has been seen pursuing a sable antelope, one of the larger and more powerful species, running as close as possible, giving it a bite at the belly, and then dropping back for a little distance, repeating these attacks until the animal fell. Large packs will run down big game of various kinds, but they will not, so far as we know, attack man. In captivity the African Wild Dog exhibits an immense amount of reserve strength, trotting back and forth in its cage with untiring energy. One that I saw in Paris, some years ago, displayed great fondness for the puppies of a dingo in an adjoining cage, and it was pitiful to see her anxiety to get possession of the little creatures. A fine male specimen that lived for some years in the Bronx Zoological Park showed the same restless activity as the one just mentioned. These dogs are very intelligent, and could no doubt easily be tamed.

Most interesting of the canine family are the wild dogs, or Dholes (Cyon Dukhuensis) of Asia. There are several varieties, chief being the Red Dogs of the Deccan, one of the provinces of India. These are really wild dogs, and not wolves. They hunt in large packs, and are said to be so fierce and relentless in attack as often to drive even tigers away from their prey. This particular variety is well name, the animal be a reddish-fawn colour. In Kipling's " Jungle Book" is a very interesting, though some-what fanciful, account of a battle between a pack of these wild dogs and some wolves, in which these dogs are vividly described.

Throughout the United States several species of wild dogs and foxes are found, among them the enormously large Maned Wolf (Canis jubatus) of South America. Although called a wolf, this animal is evidently a fox with extremely long legs, standing as high as two and a half to three feet at the shoulder and in colour much like the red fox. It is said to be a solitary animal and of rather vicious disposition, but is comparatively little known. The remarkably long legs give it an unusual appearance, almost as if it were walking on stilts. The Azara (Canis azarae) is an interesting species found in South America and extending over a very wide range of country. It is a small animal, about the size of a grey fox, and has many of the characteristics of the jackal. The Raccoon-like Dog (Canis procyonides) is so named on account of its superficial resemblance to a raccoon, and at first glance one might easily mistake it for a member of that family. It does not walk on the soles of its feet, however, as does the raccoon, but stands up well on its toes like any other dog. It has the extremely bushy tail of the raccoon, but its back is not so much arched in walking.

Of the numerous breeds of Dog we have figured three as examples.

The Black Pomeranian Dog may be taken as a type of the shaggy dogs with pointed muzzles and pointed ears which are usually called Poodles. See Plate 9, Fig. 47a.

The Collie, or Shepherd Dog, has a shaggy coat and large bushy tail, and is an indispensable assistant to the shepherd who has to look after sheep in the open country, especially in mountainous districts. See Plate 9, Fig. 47b.

The Bulldog is of various sizes and colours, being frequently black and white, and sometimes brown above and white below, as in our figure. The muzzle is short, the jaws drooping, and the whole aspect of the animal fierce and forbidding. See Plate 9, Fig. 47c.

Wolf (Canis lupus)

This animal is found in all the northern countries of the world, including Siberia, Russia, and northern Europe in general, as well as in the forests and mountains of our own country. From time immemorial the Wolf has been regarded with fear and distrust by man, and probably in earlier days was one of his greatest enemies. Owing to its habit of travelling in large packs, usually in a half starved condition, man had good reason to dread this powerful and aggressive animal, and many stories are told by travellers and hunters of desperate encounters with these beasts, which—particularly in Russia—have been known to run down sledges and devour the horses and occupants. When not pressed by hunger, however, the Wolf, like other wild animals, is shy of man. In America, on account of the more abundant food. supply, it is not so much dreaded as in European countries, although it is a terrible foe, particularly in winter, to the cattle and horses of the Western plains, and even to this day large bounties are paid in many States for its destruction. Wolves of the Hudson Bay region grow to an enormous size and are covered with a splendid coat of bushy hair.

In character the Wolf is singularly dog-like, and if taken young it may be tamed so that it often be-comes an affectionate pet, though the wolf can hardly be said to be as trustworthy as the domestic dog, which has had centuries of training. One specimen that had been brought up by a Russian lady and afterwards presented by her to the Zoological Garden in Paris, showed a most affectionate disposition. She learned to know me, and on my approach would thrust her feet as far as possible through the bars of her cage and try to draw me towards her. When patted, she would exhibit all the marks of ecstasy shown by a domestic dog, and it was sad indeed to see this intelligent and docile animal behind the bars of a cage.

In form the Wolf somewhat resembles the collie dog, but is much longer-legged and more powerful in build. The pointed ears remain upright at all times, and the head is very broad between them, owing to the enormous muscles which cover the top and give the terrible biting power for which it is noted, the teeth and jaws also being eminently constructed to destroy. The bite differs from that of the domestic dog in that the Wolf does not seize and hold its food, but endeavours to dispose of it by a series of rapid snaps. The tail is one of the chief characters wherein it differs from the dog, this member being always carried out perfectly straight from the body, raised or lowered in fear or anger, but never curled over the back. See Plate 1o, Fig. 5o. Wolves have a number of young in a litter, and the mother is very careful of the puppies, taking great pains with their education and training until they are able to care for themselves. These animals exhibit a great degree of cunning in avoiding traps and poison placed for their destruction.

Wolves hunt either singly or in packs, but in North America do not run in as large numbers as in Europe, the packs usually varying from six to eight. The ordinary gait is a long, swinging stride, quite different from the step or walk of the domestic dog, and in pursuing prey wolves fall into a tireless gallop, and will follow a track for miles.

In North America, found throughout the Western and Southern States, is a smaller form known as the Coyote, or Prairie Wolf (Canis latrans), particularly detested by Western travellers for its disagree-able habit of howling at night. A number will approach near to a camp, and, sitting on their haunches, will utter for hours at a time the most discordant wails possible to imagine. While not so powerful nor so courageous as its larger cousin, the wolf, the Coyote is nevertheless a terrible foe to smaller domes-tic animals, such as sheep and poultry. Its speed is considerable, though a good greyhound is often used to run it down. This animal may be easily domesticated, but it has an unpleasant trick of snapping with-out provocation.

Jackal (Canis aureus)

The Jackal is a more southern animal than the wolf, and has a considerable range, different species being found in northern Africa, western Asia, India, and adjacent islands. It is a much smaller animal, measuring from two to two and a half feet in length, without the tail, and varies much in colour from yellowish-grey to a mixture of grey and black, the melanistic, or black, form and the albinistic, or white, also occasionally being seen. See Plate io, Fig. 48. Like the coyote, to whom it is allied, this animal is cowardly, and even when hard driven by hunger will not attack man, but preys upon small animals and carrion. The howl, or cry, that it emits while prowling about towns in Eastern countries, is said to be penetrating and nerve-racking in the extreme.

Fox (Canis vulpes)

The Fox is easily distinguished from its allies, the dogs and the wolves, by its eyes, the pupils of which are vertical instead of circular, by its large, pointed ears, long slender muzzle, and extremely bushy tail. It is found in many parts of the Old and the New World, and makes its home in burrows which it digs in the earth—though it is said sometimes to appropriate those of the badger, when more convenient.

North America is particularly rich in varieties of the common Red Fox (Vulpes fulvus), the usual colour of which is reddish-fawn. See Plate 10, Fig. 51. Closely allied, if not of the same species, are the Cross Fox and the Silver Fox, inhabiting the north-ern part of this country, both much larger than the commoner form, and from the fact that they live in colder climate throughout the year, having much longer and denser fur. The Cross Fox received its name from the fact that there are two distinct marks forming the shape of a cross on its shoulders. The main colour of the fur in this variety is pale yellow, the stomach and under parts being black instead of white, as in the Red Fox. Several large and beautiful varieties are found in Alaska, among them the comparatively rare Silver Fox, which is also simply a phase of colour of the Red Fox. The skin of this animal is very valuable, fine specimens costing several hundred dollars. The upper parts are black or very dark grey, tipped with white, giving the pelt a beautiful silvery or frosted appearance.

The Grey Fox (Vulpes cinereo-argentatus) is a well-marked species found in the northern part of the United States, a smaller animal, and differing from the Red Fox in many ways. It is not nearly so swift of foot, and the colour and texture of the fur are quite different. The back and sides are a silver-grey, with a darker streak down the middle of the back and extending along the tail, the under parts are white, and just behind the ears and down the sides of the neck the colour is deep rufous, or reddish, while the hair is coarser and more bristly in character. The ears also are smaller, and the nose is not so sharply-pointed.

The Grey Fox is seldom hunted with dogs, as is the Red Fox, from the fact that it runs at once to its hole and does not give the hounds a long chase. In habits it is similar to the others, feeding on nearly all the small mammals and birds it is able to catch, but is not so destructive to domestic animals, nor does it display so much cunning as its larger relative. A small but very beautiful Fox found in the western parts of the United States is the Kit, or Swift Fox, of a delicate yellowish-grey on the back and pure white underneath. The fur is extremely fine and soft in texture, and the little animal is most graceful and pleasing in appearance.

Arctic Fox (Canis lagopus)

Inhabiting the extreme north of Europe, Asia, and North America, is the Arctic Fox, a smaller form than the common red fox, and having long, thick hair that covers even the soles of the feet. In summer it is a bluish-grey colour, when it is sometimes called the Blue Fox, but in winter the fur becomes perfectly white, a case of a change in colour that helps to protect the animal from being plainly seen against the snow—a " protective colouration."

Arctic Foxes at one time were common in the Pribylov Islands, off the coast of Alaska, and now are protected there by the United States Government and bred for their skins. They feed on the dead seal-pups, which are found in considerable numbers at certain seasons of the year on the islands, and upon the various fish and crabs washed up on the shores. The ears are very much shorter than those of the Red Fox, and the eyes are darker brown, so that the animal has not the acute and cunning, so-called " foxy," expression of its southern relatives. The claws are very long and sharp, probably because it lives on soft and yielding ground and snow. See Plate to, Fig. 49.



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