Posts Tagged ‘Jack Russell’

Cammie is visiting! Not quite as warm as Baton Rouge.

2015 2 14 030

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One of the few stories on the blog in which he have real photographic evidence. This was in the November of 2007, when my uncle decided to turn  my grandpa’s land into a game bird preserve. (All photos courtesy of Laura Westfall Atkinson).

pheasant stocking

Nice cock!

pheasant stock with maddie

“I want to kill them!”


maddie wants the bird

She would be on it like white on rice.

Maddie's owners, Jeanne and Doug Westfall. Doug bought the birds in Ohio the day before.

Maddie’s owners, Jeanne and Doug Westfall. Doug bought the birds in Ohio the day before. 

Willie doesn't think much of the damn birds.

Willie doesn’t think much of the damn birds.


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Maddie has gone to ground

16-year-old Madeleine has passed.  She was a Jack Russell belonging to my aunt and uncle in North Carolina.


She was born in Arizona to English parents.

And she was the mother of three litters of pups, and she was a great surrogate mother to both Cammie and Rhodie and to Willie.

And she was good dog.

When she would come to West Virginia to visit, she could be trusted off-lead, and she was very close friends with Kizzy, the golden boxer. I remember watching young Maddie follow the big black dog around as if she were something to be admired and emulated.

I also remember stocking pheasants with Maddie. I couldn’t get them out of the quail cages fast without her trying to grab the bird as it came out.

She was a good dog. She was generally gentle and well-behaved, but if another dog trifled with her or one of the puppies she was caring for, she would fight like a small grizzly bear. I remember when Willie was a small puppy, another Jack Russell tried to pick on him, but Maddie would have nothing of it. She sailed on the other dog, who was a male JRT and somewhat larger than she, and soon had him routed.

I will miss her.

She is the last of that dynasty of Jack Russells that I came to know in my teenage years. They were not these hard-driving, game dogs of the JRTCA-type, which are much more common around here. These were dogs that were scrappy, but they were still good companions.

She is sort of the end of an era.


Many Jack Russells from England have a bit of other blood in them. I’ve always suspected that she had a bit of border terrier in her– just from her head shape and her hard, thick coat. When she was younger, she had the border terrier’s markings, too.

That’s the thing about “Jack Russells,” there is still of lot of anarchy among them.

But even now, they are slowly turning into closed registry breeds.

Both Cammie and Rhodie are technically “Russell terriers,” a breed that didn’t even exist until just a few years ago. In the 1990’s, they would have both been called Jack Russells.

Maddie lost her eye to glaucoma a few years ago, which made her look particularly vicious.

But I will always remember her gentle face and tenderness with young puppies.

maddie smiling

It doesn’t matter if they live to be 16 years old.

Dogs just don’t live long enough.

Please keep my aunt and uncle and their two daughters in your thoughts this week.

This is absolutely devastating.


Maddie’s final resting place will be next to her mate, the much celebrated and perhaps legendary Timmy.







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Sniffing out the woods

Rhodie and Spike sniffing out the woods.

This was about how far they will go.

They were too afraid to go much deeper.

These two dogs have the same (wire-haired and dwarf) father. Rhodie is a broken-coated, cheetah-legged dog. Spike has shorter, Queen Anne legs and a true wire coat.

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It’s so funny to watch two dogs of very different sizes play keep away with a toy.

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Cammie got muddy today.

Just a little.

From what I’ve heard Willie bayed up a squatch in the backyard.

They all got after it, but poor Cammie tried to hold onto him as he jumped into a mud hole.

That’s my cousin Catie, Cammie’s doting caregiver and trainer.



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Rhodie is growing up. She’s all legs.

She shows a lot of the Italian greyhound blood that was put into the old fox terrier.


Alphonse De Lamartine by Decaisne. Mostly white Italian greyhounds.

Willie and Rhodie juxtaposed. She's that much taller than him already. I couldn't get a better photo of them standing together.

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The Rev. John Russell was a parson in the Church of England. He had studied at Oxford and was given a parish in North Devon.

He was a fox terrier enthusiast and a founding member of the Kennel Club– yes. he was in the fancy.

But he was never fully comfortable there. Even though he helped write the standard for the smooth fox terrier, he never showed his own dogs.

He just wanted a good little fox bolter.

And he would later describe how he would create a fox bolting terrier, and this strongly suggests that the fox terriers, including the terriers which would eventually be given his name are partially derived from the bull-and-terrier types– pit bulls, if you will.

Russell describes the best way to create a fox terrier in this fashion:

“The process,” replied Russell, “is simply as follows: they begin with a smooth bitch terrier; then, to obtain a finer skin, an Italian greyhound is selected for her mate. But as the ears of the produce are an eyesore to the connoisseur, a beagle is resorted to, and then little is seen of that unsightly defect in the next generation. Lastly, to complete the mixture, the bulldog is now called on to give the necessary courage; and the composite animals, thus elaborated, become, after due selection, the sires and dams of the modern fox-terriers. This version of their origin,” continued he, “I received from a man well qualified to speak on the subject.”

The bulldog blood thus infused imparts courage, it is true, to the so-called terrier; he is matchless at killing any number of rats in a given time; will fight any dog of his weight in a Westminster pit; draw a badger heavier than himself out of his long box; and turn up a tom-cat possessed even of ten lives, before poor pussy can utter a wail. But the ferocity of that blood is in reality ill suited—nay, is fatal—to fox-hunting purposes; for a terrier that goes to ground and fastens on his fox, as one so bred will do, is far more likely to spoil sport than promote it; he goes in to kill, not to bolt, the object of his attack (A memoir of the Rev. John Russell and his out-of-door life, , by Edward William Lewis Davies, 1902 ed., pg. 54-55.)

So Jack Russells and other fox terriers likely do have some bulldog and bull-and-terrier blood.

And when you see someone who loves Jack Russells excoriate “pit bulls,” keep in mind that the acorn didn’t fall that far from the tree.

Who knows how much a Jack Russell is actually a bred down “pit bull’?

See related post:

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The Sealyham terrier is a breed on the brink of extinction. Adelaide Now reports that the Kennel Club registered only 49 puppies last year:

Sealyham Terriers, which were initially bred for pest control, are now rarer than endangered species like giant pandas and tigers.

Their popularity soared in the 1920s, when the Kennel Club – the UK’s largest dog organisation – registered more than 2000 puppies every year.

The dogs, often described as intelligent and loyal, were favorites with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock.

Their gregarious personalities and boundless energy, meant they remained sought after for decades, and in 1959 a Sunday newspaper reported, “A notice has been posted in Clarence House and Windsor Castle giving explicit instructions that when Princess Margaret has breakfast in bed, her two Sealyhams must be brought to the room along with her breakfast tray.”

But last year only 49 were bred in the UK, putting them on the Kennel Club’s top three most endangered native breeds list.

The dramatic change is attributed to new fashions, the availability of a greater number of breeds and the decline of ratting as a form of vermin control.

Sealyham Terriers are believed to be a mix of the now extinct English White Terrier combined with Dandie Dinmont, the Fox Terrier, the West Highland and the Corgi.

I don’t know how many are registered within the United States, but it’s far from a common breed.

There are so-called terrier experts who jump up and down about why this breed went extinct– and that there are no “working forms” of this breed left.

The show breeders hold onto this breed’s purity, and they don’t give a straight answer about its origins. Note the discussion about the origins are “believed to be.”  This breed was supposedly founded from stock that was kept by a Captain John Edwardes who owned Sealyham House in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The dogs were used to kill rabbits and rats, and they were also used to flush pheasants.

However, I don’t think that this breed was entirely derived from established breeds.

Throughout the British Isles, especially in southern England and Wales, there were always small predominantly white terriers. Some of these dogs had short legs, and some had long legs. The long-legged ones became the fox terriers and the JRTCA/Parson Jack Rusell-type. The Jack Russell with the long legs is actually the old fox terrier. Jack Russell didn’t found them. It was just that an early fox terrier fancier named the Rev. John Russell preferred these dogs. Russell used his dogs to drive foxes from dens during mounted fox hunts, and according to story, the dogs needed long legs to keep up with the hounds, even though I think most of these terriers were actually carried on horseback to the dens. A little dog will have a very hard time keeping up with a pack of foxhounds, whether its legs are long or not.

And the short-legged ones, which the so-called terrier experts hate, even though they will often write about how wonderful worked dachshunds are, became short-legged Jack Russells– also known as puddin’s.  In some quarters, these puddin’ dogs are hated with an almost religious fervor. A so-called terrier expert hates puddin’ JRT, but will write wonderful things about working dachshunds and breeding experiments that cross terriers and dachshunds. The dwarfism in these terriers and dachshunds is dominant, so you will produce dogs with short legs. My dad had a standard dachshund that could hunt anything, but this dog was often laid up with slipped discs. I have never heard of puddin’ JRT having any problems with its back.  (And no, I don’t know the origin of the term “puddin’.”

But I think the puddin’ JRT’s are something important.

As I implied earlier, I’m a bit skeptical of the traditional theory on the Sealyham’s origins.

I think that it isn’t derive from a mixture of “improved” Kennel Club breeds.

I think it is an “improved” puddin’ Jack Russell.

Now, this is a bit controversial, but as I noted earlier, these short-legged dogs are very common. When most British people think of Jack Russells, they think of these dogs.

I think that all Captain Edwardes did was improve the short-legged Jack Russell into something a bit fancier.  At the time, his dogs were probably not called Jack Russells.  They were probably called “English white terriers,” which is not be confused with a dog with the same name that resembled the white Manchester terrier and was the ancestor of the Hinks’s strain of bull terrier.

The so-called terrier expert thinks that there are no working forms of Sealyhams and even laments Sir Jocelyn Lucas’s attempt to create a working form of Sealyham, but because he’s in the puddin’ haters camp, he can’t see that the working Sealyham might have some connection to these dogs.

I think the dog that led most led me to this possibility is Willie’s predecessor.

Willie’s predecessor was Timmy.  Timmy was born to long-legged JRTCA mother and a puddin’ father. I wish I had a good photo of him for the blog, but he resembled a smooth-coated Sealyham. He had the same legs and body shape as Sealyham, and he was roughly the same size. He was all white, except for some tan on his head and ears. (I don’t have a photo of him for the computer.)

Now it”s possible that some of these short-legged Jack Russells derive from crossing Sealyhams with the short-legged Jack Russell-type, but I think it would have been quite bizarre if these short-legged dogs didn’t exist prior to the popularity surge that the Sealyham terrier experience during the 1920’s.

In either scenario, the working form of Sealyham would be within the short-legged Jack Russell type.

And if we are willing to accept this possibility, saving the Sealyham and creating a working form is actually quite simple.

Outcross to short-legged Jack Russells.

It’s that simple.

The two dogs share so many traits in terms of phenotype, and if one wanted to produce smaller ones for going to ground, there are small, short-legged Jack Russells all over the British Isles that can do the job.

It would be very easy to selectively breed for a dog that more strongly resembled Sealyham.

This isn’t my idea. It’s actually been done– at least in part.

As I noted earlier, Jocelyn Lucas did create his own form of working Sealyham, but he used a simple outcross to the Norfolk terrier.  Then Brian Plummer, the old breeding maven, decided to cross the Lucas terriers with his own version of the working fox/Jack Russell terrier.  The result was the sporting Lucas terrier.  There is a major cleavage between Lucas terrier and sporting Lucas terrier people, which just as bad as the cleavage between the short-legged and long-legged Jack Russell people.

A dog like a sporting Lucas terrier could also be used in a Sealyham preservation program.

Of course, this would require some relaxation of the closed registries that exist for this breed.

Sealyham terriers are essentially doomed.

However, the short-legged  Jack Russells are more popular than ever. They are much more common than the other form of Jack Russell, and yes, although it is far from universal,  they have been bred for a more docile temperament.

Cammie's kind could help save the Sealyham terrier.

The Sealyham terrier could be saved if we go back to the root stock that produced it or the stock that eventually absorbed it.

Whatever the Sealyham terrier’s relationship to the puddin’  Jack Russell, I don’t think it takes much imagination to see that the breeds are definitely related.

But the long-legged Jack Russell zealots and the show Sealyham people aren’t likely to see it. The show people want to keep the Sealyham pure at all costs, and the long-legged Jack Russell zealots just hate puddin’s.

Once again, the truth is caught between two dogmas, and a reasonable way of solving the Sealyham terrier’s problems cannot be considered.



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New dogs

Two new Jack Russells have been added to the extended family. They are both female, and they are both litter mates. (Names subject to change.)

This one is named Cammy. She will be living with Catie at Virginia Tech for the spring semester.

This one is named Rhodie (right now). Rhodie was my grandpa's favorite foxhound. She will be living with Willie.

Willie just converted to the nineteenth century LDS Church. So he could marry both of them.

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