In towns, as I said, you must keep the dog under difficulties, and do the best you can, with the terror of losing him. If the city dog does not sicken, he loses flesh and spirit, and if you are really attached to him, you should give him away. But even when living in the country or the suburbs, it may be impossible to let the dog have the run of the house, and perhaps you may take a fancy for breeding, or even keep a couple or two of beagles. Then they must be accommodated out of doors, though neither you nor they will like it, and you will lose much of the pleasure of each other's society. But with regular exercise there is no reason why the dogs should not be in capital condition, especially if they have never been used to anything else ; and indeed in confinement they are on a healthier regimen, as they get their wholesome meals " more regular." A yard is of course better than the chain, but it must be a yard where there is little coming or going, and whence escape is impossible. For double security, the door should be doubly latched. Next to that, perhaps, comes a loose-box in a stable, where the prisoner can frisk about and has no sense of chains and fetters. It may be assumed that a good stable is well ventilated, but then there is the lack of light and sunshine, and the loss of the human society which the dog delights in. Naturally, he will have made friends with the grooms and helpers, but they only see to the horses at stated hours. Spying on his privacy through a window, I have seen such a dog, with one ear pricked and the other turned to the pavement, listening wistfully to the approaching tread of a foot, and dashing eagerly against the bars when his acquaintance stepped in. He had been craving for an hour or two for human fellowship, and the visits of the stable cat were poor consolation. Then when the key is turned upon him at night, I daresay he feels like the soldier under punishment when sentenced to the dark cells. All the same, that dog, with food in plenty, water-trough well filled, and an abundance of wheat-straw, is not to be pitied. He has the free play of his limbs, his shapes are not spoiled, and his coat is sleek and shining.
You cannot say so much for the captive on chain. If he is of a lively disposition, he is always plunging forward when any one passes, either in sheer sociability, or to get a pat or pull of the ear, or in the elusive hope of having a bite at the legs of a beggar or butcher's boy. So, especially before bones and muscles are set, shoulders and loins are apt to be dragged out of symmetry. Then the collar rubs the hair off the neck, and the ribs are fretted against the door of the kennel. For every reason, the longer the chain is the better, though it should have a swivel attached, to prevent entangling, and the kennel should be against a wall, so that the dog may not wind himself up. Chaining may be unavoidable, but it tends to make an amiable dog savage, even when malicious people are not suffered to play tricks with him, keeping just beyond his reach. Yet with a long chain and a sweet temper, and without ever stretching his legs beyond their cramped precincts, a dog may rub through a long life wonderfully well. I never had a dog I loved better than a magnificent Esquimaux ; yet after he came to years of discretion—of indiscretion in his case—I could never give him his liberty. I got him as a puppy, and he came of a family of roving propensities, who seemed to fancy themselves still in their native Labrador. All his relatives had come to grief and been reported missing, for the friend who gave him me lived among pheasant preserves, where four-footed poachers, taken red-handed, had short shrift. Griff, as I called him—he was rather like the griffin before the Law Courts—behaved admirably as a juvenile ; he would come to whistle like a spaniel, and follow quietly at heel. I went abroad for a winter, and when I came back he was demoralised and incorrigible. He had gone hunting on his own account; he was the terror of the farmers and the horror of the keepers, and had I not been on the best of terms with these neighbours, he would not have survived to welcome me warmly. I tried to bring him back to discipline, but it was no use. He would trot quietly behind me for half a mile or so, then break off, and I would hear his deep-mouthed bay among the hedgerows half a parish away. He never worried sheep, but he chased them till they huddled together breathless ; in pure spirit of mischief and the joy of the chase, he even chevied colts and young cattle. As to the hour when he might come home, it was altogether a toss-up. When he was missing, the wear and strain were tremendous, for, as I say, I never loved a dog more ; but there was nothing for it, in his own interest, but to sentence him to the chain for life. In his exuberant vitality, in his passion for a good gallop, he felt it keenly ; he could not understand being put under restraint, and at first his reproachful looks and lamentable whining cut me to the heart. The pity was that he was supremely intelligent, one word of explanation would have put matters straight. He only needed to have the error of his ways pointed out to him and he would have become a model character. As it was, with his sound philosophy he became a model of resignation ; but the point is that he lived for very many years in perfect health, and passed away peacefully with no other ailment than age.
With all his life and fire, with his sweet temper he took his durance cheerfully, and was an exception to the rule. But some breeds of big dogs don't seem to mind the chain ; the bulldogs and the mastiffs have been yard dogs or attached under the waggons from time immemorial. They were only taken off chain, from time to time, to bait a bull or draw a badger. Consequently, immemorial restraint has aggravated their natural savagery. They were the sort of dogs who were let loose of a night in the yards of the old posting-houses, where chaises with valuable luggage were left otherwise unguarded ; or they were turned out on patrol round some lonely manor-house, when tramps or gipsies or housebreakers were about. In evil neighbourhoods these watchdogs were seldom long-lived, for they were apt to be poisoned out of pure malice. These heavy dogs seldom care about much exercise ; they take life quietly, like gouty old gentlemen, and love to lie blinking and snoring in the sunshine. All the same, I should not advise you to trust to that, for they are all sinew and muscle, and as ready for a spring as a panther. And when their jaws have closed on your leg like the teeth of a spring-trap, hot irons will hardly make them let go. Yet I have known active mastiffs and amiable bulldogs. One of the best retrievers I ever met—at least for any four-footed thing, from red-deer to rabbits—was three-fourths mastiff and one-fourth bull-terrier; out rabbit-shooting he would jump about among the sandhills like the briskest little spaniel or terrier. And the only bulldog I ever owned was an impostor. He came of a famous breed, and I had offered him a home in his old age, when the master who loved him moved into London. I never saw a more truculent countenance; it would have sent him to the gallows, on mere suspicion, in any law court in Europe. No doubt his ancestors had submitted to the brutal mutilation, which cut lips and jaw about to show the teeth. But appearances are deceptive, and he was the most good-tempered of mortals; it is true that till he came to me, he had never been on chain, but always kept in a yard. I tried to take him out for walks, but gave it up. His massive frame was cast in iron, but his feet were in no sort of condition. The slow walk became a waddle, and after half a mile or so the weight of the body would tell, and he turned back. At first the village girls gave him a wide berth, and the children ran screaming to their mothers' petticoats. But soon they came to know him better, and the solitary walk back became a triumphal promenade. He would stop to talk to innumerable friends; the children would be tumbling over him, pulling ears and tail, and he would be tempted into cottages where tea was going forward.