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Reversion to an Antecedent Form.
dog with man would lead to great attention being paid to the favourite animal, and the least observant people would hardly fail to perceive the result of crossing, and to endeavour to direct spontaneous variation by selection. Since this has been going on in different parts of the world, among various races of men, from a remote period, each race taking as its starting point the original indigenous wild stock or stocks of the country; and, since these races have in many instances come into contact, and crosses have taken place between their dogs, there has been a repeated mixture of blood to lay the foundation for the strongly marked variations of the present day. Then, also, in this century, or, more exactly, within the past fifty years, we have applied systematic methods to the breeding of all our domestic animals, and variation has progressed with rapid strides, especially in the case of the dog. Every breeder knows how comparatively unstable the more extreme of these variations are at present, and how strong a tendency the young often exhibit to return to one or other of the ancestral forms. He carefully weeds out and destroys the puppies that do not come true to his ideal, lest the reputation of his kennel should suffer by the appearance of anything true to Nature and false to art. He finds it impossible to suppress this evidence of the repeated mixture the blood of the dog has undergone, Reversion is thus constantly proclaiming the genealogy of the dog; though in the main we are on the way to the creation of permanent forms, if indeed we have not already attained permanency in certain directions. The breeder of bulldogs or greyhounds, for example, would probably love me little for doubting whether he has yet attained complete fixity of species ; but if all the productions from the most carefully selected parents were allowed to grow up, a considerable proportion of them would very
far indeed from his standard of “ breed." I am inclined to regard the occasional subsequent appearance of young similar to the stock proper to a first alliance as merely the recurrence of one of those numerous varieties, of which
each of our domestic dogs—no matter what its breed-is in its own person an epitomised version. We do not feel any surprise when in an English family children appear who exhibit marked divergences from their parents in such important physical characters as the colour of the eyes, or even in the tendency to brachycephaly or dolichocephaly, because the English race of to-day is an epitome of many races, light eyed and dark eyed, short headed and long headed-varieties, however, which are not nearly so strongly marked as those which from time to time have entered into the blood stream of the domestic dog. I cannot, then, see any difficulty in referring these cases to simple recurrence to an antecedent type. The whole ground is, to my thinking, completely covered by Hæckel's statement that “The series of diverse forms which every individual of a species passes through from the early dawn of its existence, is simply a short and rapid recapitulation of the series of specific multiple forms through which his progenitors have passed, the ancestors of the existing species.” When, then, any two individuals are brought together-as, for example, a pair
thorough-bred”. retrievers — each contains within itself an epitome of this series of specific multiple forms, and there can be no reason for astonishment that one or other of them should occasionally determine the reproduction or revival of one of these forms, varying even considerably from their own type, without reference to any immediate influence from an antecedent alliance.
My retriever, Carlo II., whose portrait is here given, is the descendant of ancestors whose history is personally known to me for three generations. The photograph from which the engraving is made has the effect of somewhat enlarging his head, and the position shows his fore quarters to disadvantage. He is now more than ten years old, is in good muscular condition, and weighs about 561b. So well preserved is he that his incisors are all present, the cusps being scarcely worn off several of them, and the only indication of age is some tartar at the base of the upper canines. All the other teeth are sound
Effect of Association with Man.
and absolutely free from even this sign of advancing years. There is no apparent diminution in his activity, for he jumps the same height as he did at three years old-clearing a four foot hurdle easily with a stick in his mouth. It will be obvious to those who are familiar with the modern retriever that no judge would look twice at him on a show bench, whence it would perhaps be more correct to designate him a “retrieving dog." Although he is small, shows some tan on legs, and has a feathered tail, and in no respect approaches the modern standard of perfection, which, I understand, is sometimes obtained by the help of a poodle strain, one of the most distinguished judges in this country has pronounced him to be “a noble specimen of a dog.” Moreover, a more perfect workman, both as a pointing and retrieving dog, could not be found,“ grel” as he is, with the blood of Irish setter, Irish water spaniel, and retriever in his veins.
In a feral condition the members of the genus canis are as savage as those of the genus felis, yet the former have come easily and almost voluntarily under our dominion, while the latter are still wild animals in all essential respects. Some writers have ascribed the association of the dog with man in the first instance to curiosity-to a desire to find out what so remarkable a being can be about in his various works and ways. Capture of the wild young was necessarily the first step towards this association; but after that, it is contended, the dog became so interested in his captor that he remained to see the end of it, and finally elected to take up his permanent abode with man. In that there may be much truth, although no one can suppose that any wild dog come to years of discretion ever walked out of a wood, sat down before the wigwam of a savage, and then and there entered into partnership with him.
Wild dogs do undoubtedly evince the keenest and also the most intelligent interest in the works of man, and refuse to be beguiled by them when they take the form of traps, spring guns, or any kind of snare whatever. This, at least, is quite certain, the