This section is from the book "True Stories About Dogs & Cats", by Eliza Lee Cabot Follen. Also available from Amazon: True stories about dogs & cats.
" It would take more knowledge than I can boast of, Frank, to answer these questions. I will tell you all I have been able to learn. It is supposed by some persons that the domestic dog is the descendant, that is, the great great great grandchild of a wolf.
A man who wanted to see if a wolf could be gentle, and faithful, and loving as a dog, took a baby wolf, treated him with the greatest kindness, and fed him on food that would not make him savage.
The wolf was always gentle, and much attached to his master. If the sons and sons' sons of the wolf were always treated in the same manner, you may suppose it possible that, in time, they would be as loving and good as our dogs.
There seems, however, to be more reason to think that our domestic dog is descended from a wild dog; as there are wild dogs in various parts of the world; in Africa, Australia, and in India. The dog of the Esquimaux was a wolf. There is a distinct kind of dog for almost every part of the world, each sort differing in some things from the wolf.
The earliest history of man speaks of his faithful companion, the dog. Every schoolboy has read of the dog of Ulysses; and how, when Ulysses returned, after a very long absence, so changed as not to be recognized in his own house, his dog knew him immediately.
Cuvier, the great French naturalist, says that the "dog is the most complete, the most remarkable, and the most useful conquest ever made by man.
Every species has become our property. Each individual is altogether devoted to his master, assumes his manners, knows and defends his goods, and remains attached to him until death ; and all this proceeds neither from want nor constraint, but solely from true gratitude and real friendship.
The swiftness, the strength, and the scent of the dog have enabled him to conquer other animals; and, without the dog, man perhaps could not have formed a society. The dog is the only animal which has followed man into every part of the earth.
The Exquimaux employ their dogs as we do horses. The dogs are made slaves; but are docile and faithful, particularly to the women, who manage them by kindness and gentleness. In Germany you often see dogs drawing carts; and in London dogs are harnessed into little carts to carry round meat for the cats".
Here Harry expressed his opinion that this was abusing the dogs.
" I am told," continued Mrs. Chilton, " that when the driver of these dog carts cries ' Cats' Meat,' all the cats look out from their holes and hiding-places for their accustomed piece".
" We," said Harry, " give pussy something out of our plates all cooked and nice, and so I suppose she is a better cat, and less cattish".
" I dare say you know that there are a great variety of dogs. The Newfoundland dog not only drags carts and sledges, but has a sort of web foot that males him a particularly good swimmer. He often saves the lives of his human friends.
The Lapland dog looks after the reindeer, and drives them with the greatest gentleness to their homes or away from any danger.
The shepherd's dog does the same for the flock. He runs after any stray sheep, and just says, with a very amiable little bark, " Friend sheep," or " My little lamb, that's not the way".
Then there is the terrier to catch our rats ; the mastiff and spaniel to guard our houses; the lapdog for ladies to play with; the poodles to laugh at; and once there was the turnspit to roast our meat for us.
Besides these and many I have not mentioned there are all the different hunting dogs; the pointers and setters for birds; the hounds for hares, rabbits, foxes, and deer.
When I was in England, I saw the start for a deer hunt. The hunters, with their red jackets, were assembled on horses longing to start. The dogs were all fastened together and held still by the keepers. A large open heath was before us.
Presently a covered cart was driven up. One end was opened, and a stag leaped out.
He stood still, and looked up and all around him, as much as to say, " What are we all about ? " He had, apparently, no thought of running any where.
At last, they sent a little dog to bark at him, and soon away he scampered over fences and through fields ; like the wind, he flew.
When he was out of sight, the keeper let his dogs loose. They did not run at first, but smelt all around, one dog leading the others.
At last, he pricked up his ears, and they all set up a race after him, like a streak of lightning, as our Jem would say.
Now the huntsmen started, and they followed as near as they could. The dogs leaped over a hedge, a pretty high one. Away went the huntsmen after them.
I saw one man thrown as he tried to leap the hedge, and away went his horse and left him.
I saw two, three, four go over as if they were flying. O, how beautiful it was to see them!
Then I saw a rider and his horse both fall into a ditch they were trying to leap. Then came another, and over he went, all clear, as a cat might jump.
The hunter in the ditch scrambled out, but his horse was hurt and could not move.
Some men from the farm house, before which I was sitting, looking at the hunt, took ropes and went to help the maimed horse.
By this time, we heard but faintly the huntsmen's horn and merry shouts; and soon they were all out of sight, save the four or five men who were aiding the poor horse to get out of the ditch.
I returned home, thinking that, after all, hunting tame deer was a poor amusement. But I am an American lady; and were I an English gentleman, I might feel very differently".
" I think I should like hunting right well. It would be real good fun," said Harry. " And so should I," said Frank.
The dog of the St. Bernard, who is called the Alpine spaniel, you have heard and read of; and you have that pretty picture of one of those dogs with a boy on his back.
I have, as you know, been among the Swiss mountains; and the thought of the good monks living in those awful solitudes through the storms of winter, with the avalanches for their music, and only an occasional traveller for society, and with these gentle, loving dogs for companions, gave me a new love for these excellent animals.
I thought, too, of the poor traveller who had lost his way, and found his strength failing. I imagined his joy at the sight of one of these dogs with a cloak on his back, and a bottle of cordial tied to his neck.
I saw, in my mind, the good " fellow-creature" showing the way to the shelter which his truly Christian masters are so glad to afford.
These monks, it is said, keep a bell ringing during storms. It seems to me I can see one of the old monks sitting over his fire, putting on more wood, and making his tight chalet as warm as he can, in case a traveller should come.
Presently he hears a cheerful bark from one of the dogs. He opens his door; the poor, frozen, half-starved traveller enters.
The monk takes off the wet garments; he rubs the stiff, cold hands; he speaks kind words to the stranger, and gives him something warm to drink.
Meanwhile, the good dog lies down on the floor, looking with his big, kind eyes at the wayfarer, and seems to say, " I'm glad I found you and brought you here to my master. Eat and drink, and be comfortable; don't be shy; there's enough here always for a poor traveller".
It is a sad thing to turn from this pleasant picture to the history of the bloodhounds in the West Indies. Who would believe that the good and great Columbus employed bloodhounds to destroy the Indians who made war against the Spaniards'?
When the Indians were conquered, the bloodhounds were turned into the woods and became wild, so that there are now many of these wild dogs on the islands. I grieve to say that, here in this civilized land, bloodhounds are sometimes used to catch runaway slaves".
" Runaway slaves, Mother ? Do you mean men, like Anthony Burns," asked Frank. " He was a slave, was he not ?"
"Yes, Frank, men like Anthony Bums, when they try to get their freedom, if they are known to be hiding in a wood, are often hunted with dogs".
" O, it is very wicked, Mother ! "
" So I think, Frank; let us hope that the time will come when every man and woman and child in our land will think so, and then there will be no more slaves.
And now, let us turn away from the history of bloodhounds to some pleasant thoughts before we finish our twilight talk.
The poet Cowper was a great friend to animals. Many of his most beautiful letters to his friends have very pleasant passages about his pretty tortoise shell kitten, and his distress that she would grow up into a cat, do what he would.
He was a lover of tame rabbits and hares, and speaks of all these animals as if they were his friends and fellow-creatures. In one of his little poems he tells a pretty story of his spaniel Beau. I was so pleased with it that I learned it by heart unconsciously, from reading it over so often".
" Do repeat it, Mother," cried both the boys.
Mrs. Chilton then repeated the poem; and, as some of my young readers may not be familiar with it, they shall have a copy, too.
" This, also, boys, is a true story," said their mother: