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was always in high spirits, and had learned the great lesson of placing confidence in his employer.
We were rather surprised at some of the remarks in H. H.'s book on the use of spaniels for retrieving. For everything, except hares, they make, in our opinion, the best retrievers. Of course, if in cover-shooting we use both spaniels and retrievers, the former should drop or come to heel at shot, leaving the pursuit to others. But we have often seen spaniels heat retrievers all to nothing in finding wounded game. Only last November a friend winged a pheasant in a thick cover, and not one of the retrievers could hit it off. They puzzled about the place where it dropped, but could make nothing of it. We had a little spaniel bitch with us, whom we kept to heel all the time, till the search was about to be given up in despair. Then we let her go, and in a few minutes she went straight away for nearly two hundred yards, then plunged into a little grip, and with a great scuffling and fluttering pulled out the bird, and brought it along in triumph. Or take rabbit-shooting again: you take a snap shot at a rabbit, and can't tell whether you have hit it or not; a spaniel, trained to go in at once, will be quicker on the object than a retriever would be, and can follow all the turnings and twistings of the animal much more nimbly. We have seen many a wounded one saved from a rabbit-hole by spaniels, when retrievers would probably have overrun him, and let him escape to feed the stoats.
Thus we see that in all sporting dogs intended for the gun, the first and great desideratum is to establish a thoroughly good understanding between the dog and his master; and this is why we have so great a partiality for dogs which can be admitted into the house and made one of the family. The purely kennel-dog will, if properly handled, be a willing and cheerful servant; but the house-dog becomes a friend and companion; and more in the long run can be got out of such a dog than out of the best with whom we only associate for business purposes. The one kind of dog is like a first-rate clerk. The other is like a partner. On the breaking of spaniels our author's remarks, if we except what he says about retrieving, are all excellent. Be very careful, he says, of teaching 'tricks' to a spaniel who is intended for the gun. His reason is that you may overtax his brain, and so lead him in time to regard everything as a trick. He is very likely, at all events, to get confused between the two, and when he is told to fetch a bird, to think he is meant to ring the bell. Another reason is that most dogs, except professional performers, regard tricks as play, and if they are used to tricks will fancy you are only playing with them out shooting.
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We have had trouble both with setters and spaniels on this score; and although you cannot pet a dog too much, if it is done judiciously, you must carefully avoid what the stern disciplinarians of the old school call 'making a fool of him.' A sporting dog should know that sport means work-and serious work too-and though he should always be cheerful, we do not like to see him frivolous.
In the breaking of all dogs, and especially spaniels, we should always bear in mind the old proverb, that though one man may take a horse to water a dozen cannot make him drink. Now spaniels, like other dogs, differ among themselves as much as men do. Some, for instance, have a great dislike to pricking their noses, whether with thorns or furze: others don't seem to mind it others again, much as they dislike the process, go through it from a sense of duty. When you have reason to believe that a winged partridge is somewhere at the bottom of a ditch full of brambles, or that there are rabbits in a thick bit of gorse, it is very aggravating, no doubt, to see your dog stand sniffing and wagging his tail, and refusing to go in. But violence is no use, that is certain.
After every sort of endearing inducement you begin to get angry, and perhaps, to begin with, to put him in quietly. Of course he immediately turns out again at the same spot; then, alas! you lose your temper and give him a kick, perhaps. In that case you have done him more harm in that moment than you will probably undo during the whole season. There is no punishment which will make a dog like brambles, and he will never hunt the ditch well unless by his own inclination. I don't say that you cannot make some dogs go in by punishment. All I say is you cannot make them hunt when they get in; they will sneak back or get out the other side, and get into all kinds of shirking vices which can never be cured.'
H. H., however, is here only speaking of forcing a dog to go into a ditch to hunt for unwounded game. We agree with him that this is unnecessary; give the dog the wind, and if there is anything in the ditch, he is sure to find it. But will he go in when he knows that a wounded bird is there? That is the question. We have seen very good spaniels turn back from the stiff thorny barrier which sometimes overhangs a lot of dead leaves and rubbish, either on the bank or in the ditch, under which the bird has ensconced itself. There is no certain cure for this fault. It may be a good plan when you know exactly where the bird is, to hold the dog with his face towards it, and send a man round to stir it up from the other side. If he succeeds in making the bird show itself or flutter, the dog may make a dash at it; and if he catches it, will be less reluctant in
future. Repeat the process every day, and perhaps you may effect a cure.
We have heard many stories of what dogs are capable of learning. But H. H. caps all that we have ever heard by the following anecdotes of Jet, the property of the schoolmaster at a village in Surrey where the narrator was living in the year 1861. The dog was not a sporting dog, and had only been taught tricks, as for instance carrying a penny to the baker's shop and buying a bun with it, and so forth. He also made a capable 'long-stop' at cricket.
'My first acquaintance with Jet was his begging of me one day in the street. I stopped and talked to him, and asked him what he wanted. He immediately started to the baker's shop, and sat up and begged at the door. I opened it, and asked the baker what the dog meant. On learning, I told him to come home with me, and I would give him a penny. This he did promptly, and trotted off highly pleased.
'Some days afterwards I saw him sitting up at the baker's door, with a penny in his mouth. Just before I opened the door for him I said, "Why do you not bring me your pence, old fellow, and I will give you some meat?" The dog hesitated when the door was opened, and looked down the street towards my house, but finally entered and bought his bun. The next morning I found him sitting at my doorstep, with a penny in his mouth, which he deposited at my feet, smiled graciously at me, and sat down patiently. I gave him the meat, but as I did not wish either to take the dog's money or to cheat the baker, I returned him the penny, which he would not take for some time, till I told him to take it to the Baker. He did so, but put it down in the shop and ran out without his bun, at least so the baker told me afterwards. After that Jet would sometimes come to me, and sometimes to the baker, with his money, I suppose just as he desired meat or bread.
'One morning I met him close to my gate; he had no money, but I asked him in, and he came and sat with me for an hour. As he was departing I said, "Come and dine with me to-night at seven o'clock sharp, and you shall have a good feed." I forgot all about the circumstance, and was sitting down to dinner with a friend who had dropped in, when there was a deep, prolonged howl at the gate. I never thought anything about my invitation, but went to see what was up. The moment I opened the gate the dog raced in, instead of his usual solemn stalk, and went straight into the dining-room. I had a chair placed for him, and a plate by my side, and he ate what I gave him in the most correct and gentlemanly manner, leaving soon after dinner was ended. Many times after that I asked him to dine. I never knew him to come without an invitation or fail to accept one, except once when he was long-stopping. He left his post suddenly, and begun to walk away, till he was sharply rated by his master, when he returned, but did his work in a very slack way afterwards.'
Spaniels, of course, are not perfect till they have been taught to hunt the other side of the hedge. This is easily done with puppies; but nothing is so difficult with an old dog, who cannot bear to be separated by any obstacle from his master and the gun.
The most inviting description of shooting which H. H. has given us is drawn from his experience in Brittany; where it seems that, if you only go the right way to work, you can get any amount of good shooting-partridge, snipe, woodcock, wild fowl, and a sprinkling of hares. You must not offer the farmers money, but only brandy and tobacco, which, with abundance of politeness, will purchase their good-will at once. Nor is it well to offer them game, since if you kill game enough to enable you to give any away, you must, in their opinion, be sweeping the whole country clean. A few francs bestowed upon their children will be a good investment, but to offer it to Monsieur would be an insult. If, in addition to these expedients, you also ingratiate yourself with the priests and gendarmes, you may practically do what you like. It is also a good plan to shoot every now and then with the native sportsmen, who will only be too delighted to accompany you. They kill nothing, but they show you all the likeliest places, which you can afterwards go and beat by yourself. One reason why a Frenchman kills so little is that he won't allow himself enough powder. H. H. one day asked his Breton companion to allow him to load his gun for him, as he had been missing all day. He put in the proper charge of 3 drams of powder and 1 oz. of shot, and the next two birds fell dead. H. H. explained to him the cause of his previous failures and that he must use more powder. Ah! monsieur,' he exclaimed, 'il n'y'a pas de moyen, c'est trop cher.' He fired away pounds of powder with little or no result, because he would not use enough each time to enable him to kill. A more perfect and literal illustration of the penny-wise and pound-foolish proverb we never remember to have met with.
Our author's bag one day, when he shot very badly, was nine brace of birds, eight couple of snipe, two teal, a mallard, and a hare. He might easily have had double the number of birds, which he got well scattered; but even as it was, the day's sport makes one's mouth water.
We lay down this little volume with a feeling of gratitude to the author for the pleasure which he has afforded us, and the 'visions of long-departed joys' which he has conjured up before us. Before they fade, let us again record our conviction that there is no shooting like shooting over dogs. Perhaps we should add, when you can get it. The noble author, to whom we are
indebted for the chapters on grouse and partridge-shooting in the Badminton Library, is himself of this opinion; but considers that the only conditions, under which pointers and setters can be used to advantage, have so entirely disappeared from England, that the old style may be said to have become practically obsolete. We have already given our reasons for differing from him on this point. There is a great deal of wild, rough country still left in England, where not only is there plenty of room for dogs, but where you cannot do so well without them. And even on highly-cultivated land, if we except regular game farms, where there are nearly as many birds in a turnip field as there are turnips, we are at a loss to understand why dogs should be considered de trop by those sportsmen who shoot alone, or at most in couples.
Let us stand upon this gentle eminence on the 1st of September, and look down on the country below and on both sides of us. We are standing at the top of a long, narrow, sloping wheatstubble, where birds are certain to be found both in the early morning and the afternoon. To the left is a large field of beans, cut, but standing in shocks, with a good thick bottom under foot. To the right are some rough pastures. Below, the ground falls suddenly to a brook, which winds lazily through the willows, and beyond are meadows of the richest and freshest green, covered with the aftermath or eddish, and never touched by the foot of man or beast since the hay was carried. The grass is now halfway up to our knees, and birds will lie in it like stones. Beyond the meadows the ground rises again, and we see a twenty-acre field of swedes and white turnips, and to the left of it nearly as large a field of potatoes. Further away to the left, on the same hill, we see a great dark patch, which we know to be a big field of clover, not to be cut, at all events, for another week or perhaps fortnight; and below these again and nearer to us more meadows, and a long, crooked hedgerow running parallel with the brook, low enough to shoot over, and a rare place, we may be sure, for dropping upon single birds. If we cross over to the brow of the opposite ridge we shall see much the same landscape spread out upon the other side. If we face round towards the spot where we originally stood, we have the little village on our right; the grey church tower just showing through the dark green elms; here and there a gable-ended farmhouse, with its yellow ricks visible among the apple-trees; the blue smoke rising up through the foliage; the waggons bringing home the last loads of wheat; altogether ' a home of ancient peace' with a homely beauty of its own, which touches the heart as well as the head, and is no bad