All dogs have a dash of jealousy in their natures. You may take it as a general rule that the more a dog loves you, the more jealous he will be. You are patting the head or playing with the ears of a favourite, when another protests with a muttering growl, and a third remonstrates more quietly by laying his chin over your leg. That shows the difference of dispositions ; one, if he dared, would savagely resent any preference, and the other is content to steal into your affections. Puppies of the same litter, brought up in the same way, turn out very differently. One is naturally morose, quick to take offence, and inclined to sulk; put him out of temper, and it may be days before he will forgive or forget. Kindness and patience are wasted on his sullen nature, and the sooner you get rid of him the better. So perhaps it might be wise to do with another, whose fiery spirit keeps you in continual hot water, and yet you cannot help liking him. A born fighter, he is always picking quarrels ; on slight provocation he will go at any dog, regardless of size or strength. He is what the keepers call "varmint,"—game to the backbone, and as his failings are on the side of virtues, you love him for his pluck. I had one of the kind who had a difficulty with a bull-terrier on chain, twice his own weight. He could have cried off at any moment of the fight, but for a summer afternoon he went at the big one, time after time, retiring beyond reach to breathe between rounds. The stupid stableman who was looking on never interfered, and when I drove home that night—I had been away for the day—I heard that my little pet had at last been brought home dying, so bad that it was not thought worth while to send for a doctor. A pitiable sight he was, bleeding, tattered, and torn, stretched on the rug, with scarcely a wink or a breath left in him. I washed his wounds, bound up a thigh that had been bitten through, and was cheered to see him open one eye, when I bathed his muzzle with brandy and poured some drops down his throat. Rather than watch through the night by the patient's bed, I took him up to my own, and was delighted to hear him tumble off towards the small hours, for it showed there was life in him still. Care and a sound constitution pulled him through, though he went on three legs to his dying day, and the first use he made of his convalescence was to go back to have it out with the bull-terrier. But knowing him, I had taken precautions ; otherwise he would probably have been killed.
Then there are shy dogs and cheeky dogs ; some want to be drawn out and others to be sat upon. I import my terriers from the far north, and it is painful and provoking too, to see the distress of a timid little animal when landed among unfamiliar surroundings. He is pretty sure to have left aching hearts behind him, and you can see in his tearful eyes and reproachful looks that he is full of sad memories of happy days. I thought I should lose one of those sensitive creatures ; for a couple of days he could not be persuaded to eat, and I believe he would have died had he not attached himself to a housemaid, who, after trying many things, tempted him with cream and Roquefort cheese. Yet that shrinking little beggar, when roused in battle, was as game as the small champion who fought the bull-terrier. That, however, is rather an exceptional case, and more often the newcomer makes himself at home from the moment of his arrival. Taken off the train, he is like a jack-in-the-box, with extraordinary stores of repressed energy. Within five minutes he is looking for rats behind the window curtains, or romping and taking liberties with the older residents. He does not show any disinclination for food ; on the contrary, if you let him eat his fill, he would gorge himself like a boa constrictor. All dogs are fond of good living, and though to keep them in perfect health they should be dieted carefully and regularly, I am afraid that is a rule which I honour in the breach rather than the observance. In fact, so far as my experience goes, when dogs are unconfined, with a free run out of doors, you may indulge them moderately with impunity. Indeed when the servants take to them, you can hardly help yourself. Anyhow, three or four are generally sitting round my dinner-table, and it is then that jealousy comes out. If I did not believe it was the favour as much as the food they cared for, I should say they were detestably greedy. A dog who turns up his nose at dry bread when you are dining tete-a-tete, will snatch at it when surrounded with eager companions. What tempts them most is anything they will crunch, from chicken bones to biscuits, and then they are apt to be betrayed into forgetting their manners. In all my experience I have only known one or two gentlemen or ladies who took food from your hand—in a mixed company—as if conferring a favour, mouthing it as gently as the high-bred retriever, who lays a bird at your feet without ruffling a feather.
No doubt a dog who lives in the house is likely to be over-indulged, and great authorities will tell you that he ought only to be fed once a day, and that it is more healthy for him to be kept in an outhouse, with plenty of fresh air and clean straw. Don't you believe that, or only believe it with reservations. Boys are not given to coddling either their dogs or themselves. There is nothing they hold in greater contempt than an overfed poodle or an asthmatic pug. If the boy is worth his salt, his dog in any circumstances will be in fair condition. Unfortunately no boy is his own master, and his parents may have prejudices. His mother may object to muddy feet on her carpets, or to shaggy coats, smelling strongly of damp, stretching themselves out to dry on her cushions. But if he is lucky enough to live in a house where they are not over-particular, he ought to learn what friendship and close sympathy really mean. There are many dogs that never get a fair chance, and we never know how marvellously their intelligence may be developed. The sportsman who only goes to his moors in August meets his setters or pointers for the first time; they have been kept close prisoners for nine months in the year, taken out like the captives of a penitentiary for an occasional run, and the marvel is that they are not idiots. The run of retrievers are left to keepers, who keep them on the chain and break them with the whip and the whistle. They generally work indifferently, but the wonder is that they work at all. Look, on the other hand, at the dogs of the poacher and the hill shepherd. The poacher's lurcher is seldom pure bred; he is a cross between the greyhound—the least intelligent of dogs—and the collie, and I have a great belief in pure breeding. But he lives with his master ; he is with him night and day, and he becomes such a finished hypocrite, that he might give points to the most accomplished area sneak. His hang-dog or furtive look he cannot help, but if any one glances at him suspiciously, he is the incarnation of injured innocence. His hunting—and lurchers almost always hunt in couples—is the perfection of dodgy strategy. He knows he is raiding in a hostile country, and with ears and nose he is always on the watch for signs of the enemy. Of course he hunts silent, but on a symptom of danger he slinks into the nearest ditch, and works back under the cover of weeds and brambles to his master. If there is no trouble, while the one dog beats the field, the other is on the watch by the hedge at the familiar hare or pheasant run. But it is when his master has made a good haul by net or snare that the serious business begins. The game is to be got off the ground, and the watchers may have taken the alarm, or the rural constable may be taking an early stroll along the lanes. Then the surest of the lurchers is sent off on patrol duty. He trots ahead, as if minding some business of his own, with cocked ears and distended nostrils. I have been told by an old villain, whom I was trying to bring to a sense of the error of his ways, and who used to chuckle over the iniquities he professed to deplore, that he owed the competency which made his old age comfortable to the sagacity of one particular dog. " Bless you, sir," he used to say, " Solomon, with all his wisdom, was a fool to him. If he came back to you with a wink and wag of his tail, you might take your 'davit that the road was clear, and mind you, he would never speak unless he was sure. Blest if I don't believe he would have smelled out a policeman if he had turned out in a surplice, and he would wind a watcher from half a mile".