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young of wild dogs, and frequently the adult animals themselves, enter into association with us more easily than any other of the land carnivora. I am told by the keepers in the Zoological Gardens that they can do almost as they like with the wolves in the collection after some little acquaintance with them, though these animals have come straight from Asia or America, and their first real acquaintance with the human species has been under every disadvantage. A very powerful black Tibetan wolf, which at first rushed at the bars of the cage with all his teeth bared whenever the keeper passed, and displayed the utmost ferocity, soon became as docile and affectionate towards him as many domestic dogs.
None of the cats can be thus approached. I handled (in the presence of the mother) a dingo pup, born in the Gardens, without provoking her resentment. She retired shyly into a corner of her den, while the young one behaved with me in the friendly manner of a domestic puppy. During a recent visit to the kennel of Mr. W. K. Taunton, who was good enough to invite me to inspect a dingo he had recently imported direct from Australia, I had another opportunity of seeing how mild the manners of a wild species may become after very slight association with man. This formidable animal -a truly magnificent specimen of the species—on being let out in the presence of Mr. Taunton and myself by the keeper, took a run round the yard, and then made a critical examination of my trousers with his nose, and no doubt came to the conclusion that I was the possessor of a dog. He allowed me to handle him freely, seemed pleased with the attention, and paid me the compliment of taking my hand into his mouth, and mumbling it somewhat roughly, but obviously in playful mood. His lively and sociable manner indicated very clearly his satisfaction with his new human acquaintance; yet this dog not very long previously had been running wild in the Australian bush, hunting kangaroos, and regarding man
a diabolical creature, always galloping about on horses and keeping dingoes in a state of perpetual alarm.
The Senses – Examples of Vision-Examples of Hearing, and
discrimination of Sounds in the Australian Bush-Examples of Taste-Dram-drinkers-Smell, acuteness and discrimination-Tracking Human Footsteps-Back Trail-Experiments on the Sense of Smell-Stone-hunting—Change of Habits from the Wild to the Domesticated State— Wagging the Tail -Barking-Origin of the Dingo–The Eskimo Dog-The St. Bernard
- The Bulldog.
No one who has paid the most casual attention to the actions of dogs can doubt that their senses are developed to an extraordinary degree, especially those of hearing and smelling. That of taste also, which is so closely correlated with the latter, is much more delicate than we might be apt to conclude from the behaviour of the animal in some circumstances. Professor Huxley under-estimated the power of vision, it seems to me, when he declared it to be much inferior to the same sense in man. Dogs do not, as can be determined from the anatomy of the eye, possess the astonishing power of adapting their vision to both near and distant objects, like a hawk, for instance, which can see a field mouse creeping in the grass while he poises himself on his wings a hundred feet above the meadow. The structure of the accipitrine eye at once reveals the secret of this almost telescopic power, enjoyed only by the Class of birds. Nevertheless, my own observations, as well as those of others, have led me to form a high estimate of this sense in the dog.
It is not easy to make direct experiments. The animal must be carefully watched under conditions which render comparison with our own vision possible. Everyone knows how difficult it is for a swimmer to keep his eye on any object floating on broken water; it must be still more so for the dog, whose line of sight is lower. A correspondent of the Field, 1st December, 1883, gave the following instances: “I had been for a day's shore shooting on the coast of Calvados, and had dropped what is there called a petite de mer” (probably one of the stilts). “The crossbred spaniel plunged immediately into the surging billows, did brave battle with them for several minutes, never lost sight of the speck which was dancing wildly on the white-crested waves, and in due time retrieved the worthless little long bill. Another time, I had been looking for ducks along the partially frozen stream in the park, when a wood pigeon bolted from the elm trees, received a shot from me, flew
the end of a plantation, and then fell dead in a hedge between a field of colza and another of winter wheat. I went immediately to the spot, and in so doing had to chide the spaniel for a double attempt to enter the wood, This was the only slightly angry word I ever addressed to him, and he felt it keenly. Arrived at the hedge, a most diligent search was made, but in vain, and at last I gave it up and returned to the stream, when, for the third time, the dog made an attempt to enter the wood, succeeded in eluding my attention, scoured the corner of the plantation, and then emerged triumphantly in front of me with the wood pigeon in his mouth. He knew exactly where it had fallen. I had made a miscalculation, and then blamed the frosty morning for it. Do you suppose that Tom—that was the spaniel's namemade me feel my inferiority ? Oh no! The dog is far too noble and generous an animal to lower himself to the level of a question of amour propre, a truly human weakness.”
Many sportsmen, especially those who like going out shooting with no other companion than a retriever, and care
The Sense of Sight.
nothing for a “bag ” as such, but prefer contemplating the exercise of the dog's faculties, must often have experienced the accuracy with which he will mark a fallen bird. Over and over again on the Australian creeks has my retriever, Carlo I. (grandfather of the subject of the illustration), correctly marked a fallen duck among beds of reeds, or swamp grass, when I have far overwalked the spot or missed the direction. One morning, in Moreton Bay, when the tide was out half a mile on the mud flats, a long shot at a teal failed to bring him down; he flew straight out to seaward, the dog intently watching him while I put another charge into the antiquated muzzle loader. Ah! the despised “spout!” Many a year since I handled one now; but how nicely that deliberate measuring out of powder and shot rested the dog, steadied our nerves, and gave us time for reflection. If ever I find another opportunity for wild shooting over such a dog as that, I will put aside the modern weapon and once more take to the old “Purdey,” converted from a flint to a percussion, with which my father more than half a century ago astonished
the Cambridgeshire gunners by his performances on the snipe. That venerable weapon is as sound as ever, thanks to loving care; but it must not be desecrated by a modern pheasant battue or a grouse drive. Perhaps it may yet renew its youth in company with a first-rate retriever, and in the hands of one who still wants several good years to the half century.
Meanwhile the teal is flying seaward and has become a mere speck. I put up the small binocular which I always carry in a special pocket, ready set to focus, and watch him. Presently he towers a few yards and falls ilead. I look at the dog; he has seen it too, and turns to me with a whining entreaty to be after it. Is it worth while to try? The mud is firm and safe, though cut up by little creeks; I therefore let him see what he can do, and, with a wave of my hand he is away on what I think an unlikely quest. Across the mud flat he races, in and out of the pools, keeping the
direction with astonishing accuracy.
With the glass at my eye I see him, as I think, pass the spot. He goes slowly now, hesitates, retraces his steps some yards, and casts down wind to get the scent, but without success. A wider cast still, and up goes his flag. A few moments' steady quartering of the ground, and he has the bird in his mouth, and it is not long before he delivers it proudly into my hand. Great as the distance was—at least a quarter of a mile—he had marked his bird down within a circle of not more than forty yards diameter, to the best of my judgment, and moreover, went to work with a confidence my own assisted sight did not enable me to share.
Spoilt minion of fashion; thou of the battue and the drive, and the second gun ready to be handed by the keeper, as the long tails come rocketing out of cover by the dozen; believe
me, that was worth the hecatombs of slaughter, the champagne lunch-and-but that would be rank treason—I was going to add, the plaudits of the fair come out in wagonettes to view the goodly rows of burnished plumaged pheasants ranged on the grass, while the tired beaters stand humbly at the
of the wood expectant of broken meat. Spoilt minion-I am still apostrophising thee - where are the dogs ? or, rather, where is thy dog, thy trusty companion, if thou hast one, and what part or lot has he borne in this pheasant-killing-by-machinery business? After the din, after the triumph and the vanity, after the rapture, such as it is, of having killed the largest head of game to your own gun; after the excitement, and the risk of being shot dead through the back by some irresponsible booby who trained his "'prentice hand” at a pigeon match—the manliest thing you have done to-day was to refrain from flinching when his gun belched out its contents at that bird rising straight between you—after all this what is there left? There are the slain, it is true, to your account; there is the envy of the party, and there is the certainty that my Lord Tom Noddy will invite you