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Our Four-footed Friends Big And Little

[Nov. 8, 1873.]

May I be permitted to question, in the most friendly way, the assumption
of "Lucy Field," in your last issue, that the lives of small dogs are in
constant jeopardy from "a race of giant dogs, and exceptionally large
dogs," at Muswell Hill? If it be so, then, surely the "giant dogs" of
that region are exceptions. My experience goes to confirm the truth
taught by Sir Edwin Landseer's "Dignity and Impudence," a fine print of
which adorns my portfolio. I had a broken-haired friend, weight about
eight pounds, learned in two languages, canine and English, who rejoiced
in the name of Teens, given him by babes with whom he condescended to
play, because he was a "tiny, teeny dog." I must confess that my late
friend--alas! that I should say late--who was chivalrically brave in
killing rats and carrying on war with cats, was a very bully, a kind of
Ancient Pistol towards big dogs. To see him meet a Newfoundland or
large retriever was as good as a play. Teens, with his tail curled like
the spring of an ancient watch, his broken-haired back stiffened with
indignation, would stand and give the pass-word all dogs seem to know,
and be overhauled and examined as he walked round the giant like an
English gunboat by a Spanish fifth-rate; but when once the enemy turned
his back, Teens exploded like a cracker, running under the big dog's
nose, and often springing at his lip. His gigantic, but generous foe (or
friend) always fled, or walked away, followed by a torrent of abusive
barks, which, from their peculiar intonation, I took for dog-slang, and
Teens returning with an impudent smile on his countenance, wiped his
feet on the pavement as a sign of triumph. I have seen him do this a
hundred times, and never saw a big dog attempt to punish his impudence.
Jeems, a black-and-tan of smaller weight, who seemed to walk upon
springs, and who on work-a-days was called Jim, and James on Sundays,
which day he perfectly well knew, was more like Parolles. He bullied
big dogs at a distance, and seldom stood up to them like the truculent
Teens, and, although he ran away, was seldom pursued and never hurt,
while the Claimant (he was for his size unwieldly in fatness as a pup),
who (or which) still lives with me, is now bullying a shambling
retriever pup, full-grown, but, like Cousin Feenix, uncertain as to his
gait, who good-naturedly submits to it. Here, perhaps, there is danger;
for very big pups will pursue any little thing that runs away, and one
of their large paws, which they put down as if they wore heavily clumped
boots, might certainly crush the life--a very noisy, fussy, busy life it
is--out of my small and impertinent, pretentious Tichborne. This dog, by
the way, brings down his mistress her boots, as a hint for her to take a
walk, and blows like a trumpet or young walrus under the door to be let
in, having been corrected for scratching the panel. I end as I began, by
assuring you that my experience, no less than that of my friends, lies
in the direction of extreme generosity exhibited by large dogs towards
small ones; I would not deny that a large dog may now and then punish an
impudent and aggressive toy-terrier, but, as a rule, we can only wonder
at the providential wisdom which makes them so generous and forbearing;
having a giant's strength, they seldom indeed use it like a giant.


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