If you must put a dog on chain, you are bound to make him comfortable. The first thing is to see that he is always supplied with fresh water ; indeed all dogs should have water within reach, with a lump of sulphur in it. It is wonderful how much and how often a dog will drink, even in cool weather ; he seldom passes a pool or puddle without dipping his tongue, and the first thing he does on coming home, is to rush off to his drinking-cup. The next thing is to protect him from wind and wet. It is odd how stupid old fashions linger, and the kennel is generally made with the door in front. On the contrary, the opening should always be on the side, so that, though the quarters cannot at best be very comfortable, there is a snug recess where he can roll himself up. A barrel, with the lower part boarded up, is better than the ordinary wind-trap. Whether barrel or kennel, it should be raised a few inches above the ground, like tropical bungalows in malarious climates.
Free ventilation prevents the boards from rotting, and the damp from soaking into the straw. The wheat-straw should be in plenty and frequently renewed, and in cold weather there should be the luxury of a rug or piece of blanket, carefully dried and aired. From time to time the kennel must be washed out with soft soap, and scrupulously dried before the bedding is renewed. Some people hold to aromatic pine-shavings as a safeguard against vermin, but they are not such comfortable lying as wheat-straw.
As to feeding dogs on chain, they cannot be indulged as those that have liberty. And there is no greater mistake than tying them down to a monotonous diet. Oatmeal porridge is excellent, so are dog biscuits ; but to keep a prisoner in fair condition, his palate should be tempted with variety. On the other hand, you should appeal to the good sense of the servants, who are apt to fill his platter with the refuse of the table. Give him bones to amuse himself with, by all means, but courses of cold entrees are sure to upset his digestion, and breed all manner of skin diseases. Old dogs should have a bellyful once in the day; the staple should be hot oatmeal and these biscuits. Meat should be given occasionally, though of course there is meat in the dog biscuits, which are both wholesome and nourishing. Confinement is apt to make a dog costive, and nothing gives easier relief in a mild case than liver, or boiled vegetables mixed with the oatmeal porridge. As for puppies shut up in a stable or outhouse, they should have little at a time, and be fed often.
Fifty years ago. or less, it was the fashion to crop the ears and tails of game terriers. Happily the fashion of ear-clipping has gone out of favour; though as to the tails, when they were docked a week or two after birth, it really did not hurt. The correct thing was to bite them off. One of my earliest recollections is looking out of the nursery window and seeing an old gentleman, in a flowered flannel dressing-gown, and dressed in cast clothing —he did all manner of odd jobs about the back premises—biting off the tails of a litter of spaniels. The mother ran from one to another, licking the wounds, and in a few minutes her children seemed to have forgotten all about it. In the case of spaniels, there is something to be said for the operation, though I do not think myself there is much in the argument. It is maintained that for a dog meant to work in thick cover, a bushy tail is an encumbrance, as it catches in brambles and thorns. In point of fact, where the dog can tear a way, the tail will follow without catching. There was more reason in trimming the ears of bulldogs and bull-terriers, when their vocation in life was understood to be fighting ; the ear gave a grip to the enemy in a fight, and would be torn into ribbons when drawing a badger. But the badgers have been going the way of the wolves and the wild cats : the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would have a word to say to the sporting publican who kept a badger in his yard; and it is only among barbarians of the coal and iron counties that dogs are deliberately pitted in single combat. Any interference with the wise arrangements of Nature is simply changing beauty into deformity; and mutilation in any shape, as it is opposed to humanity, is discountenanced nowadays by the judges at dog shows.