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There are many stories about the reasoning powers of terriers, the Lassie-ish talent to think out problems that might buffalo an ordinary cur. One of Trump's immediate descendants was named Tip, and Parson Jack used to tell a story about Tip that illustrated this deductive process. They were hunting a certain area one time when a fox bolted and, after a long chase, found refuge in a place called Gray's Holts, a copse so catacombed with badger tunnels that it was impossible to dig to the fox. It had escaped. Some time later they hunted the same general area and, again, a fox bolted. The hounds were in close pursuit when, to Russell's great surprise, Tip took off in the opposite direction.
"He's off, Sir, to Gray's Holts. I know he is," a companion shouted.
The dog had recognized it as the same fox that had eluded them before. Sure enough, the fox eventually circled around, and when it arrived at Gray's Holts, there was Tip, giving tongue, growling, huffing its 13-pound body into such a fearsome state that the fox veered off. Recalled Russell, "Perfect success crowned the maneuver: the fox, not daring to face the lion in his path, gave the spot a wide berth; while the hounds, carrying a fine head, passed on to the heather, and after a clinking run killed him on the open moor."
Tip eventually passed away in the terrier equivalent of dying with one's boots on. The old dog died of asthma while to ground even as Parson Jack was digging to it and the fox it had cornered down there in the bowels of the terra.
Russell himself died at the carious old age of 88, and when he did his kennels went the way of the four winds. Some of the direct descendants of his terriers came into the hands of a sportsman named Arthur Heinemann, who is sometimes cited as the last of the true Jack Russell breeders. Heinemann died of pneumonia at the age of 60, in 1930, after falling into a pond while coursing on New Year's Day, and his kennels were subsequently dispersed. Good thing, too, Jack Russell fanciers would say. If some of the original blood of Trump had still been around, undiluted by crossbreeding, it no doubt would have been coursing through the veins of an idiot terrier—Look what they did to the cocker!—with none of the reasoning ability of a chicken, never mind Tip. "As an illustration of what in-breeding can do," writes Dan Russell, "the author remembers that in his youth, when there was little mechanised transport, every village had one or two 'naturals,' because the young men married girls from next door. Over a period of years, this in-breeding resulted in some children being born 'simple.' Nowadays, boys can range farther afield for their brides with the result that the village 'natural' is a thing of the past.
"What is sometimes forgotten," he continues, "is that John Russell bred a type of fox-terrier, not a separate breed.... Although his favorites shared his fireside, they all worked to fox. One can imagine that any young dog that showed reluctance to face its enemy underground was speedily got rid of."
First and foremost, Jack Russell's terriers had to be game. They also had to be primarily white so that they could be quickly distinguished from the fox—both underground and in the open field, where a bloodthirsty hound might find a tan-colored terrier too tempting to resist. Introducing bulldog blood to a fox terrier or Border terrier added both whiteness and gameness, but it produced too hard a dog, one that would silently kill the fox underground instead of bolting it. Beagle blood would soften this cross, while also adding an appropriate amount of tongue. Tongue is very important, and there is a world of difference between a dog that gives tongue and a dog that yaps. Modern Jack Russell owners repeatedly draw this distinction between their dog and other terriers. The point is, Jack Russells are a mongrelly dog. That milkman back in 1819 wasn't carrying around a mutation—he had a rather nice-looking accident that dog breeders and sportsmen have been trying to copy for the last 162 years. Their efforts are now collectively referred to as the Jack Russell terrier, because the direct line of Trump's descendants has long since vanished.
The modern Jack Russell terrier can be either smooth-coated or wiry. He comes in two sizes: up to 11 inches at the shoulder and up to 15 inches at the shoulder. His head should be well-balanced and carried on a strongly muscled neck; his jaws powerful with a scissors bite: and his ears V-shaped and dropped. His tail, which is usually docked, should be at least four inches long, enough to give a man a good handhold. The dog's chest should be narrow enough to be spanned by two hands behind the shoulder blades. "We have a tendency to breed them too stocky or chunky in this country," says Mrs. Crawford, who shows only 339 Jack Russells in the registry of her club, which was founded in 1976. (It has been estimated, however, that there are 3,000 Jack Russells in the U.S.) "If we keep breeding them like this, they're going to have trouble going to ground. But there are many people who could care less about them going to ground. They want them mostly as pets."
And fine pets they make, although if confined to, say, a city apartment, they can be difficult to house-train and tend to lift their legs on the furniture to mark the territory. (Parson Jack no doubt would approve.) They are affectionate to the point of crawling beneath their masters' bedcovers, and are reportedly wonderful with children. "The Jack Russell relates better to people than other terriers," says Captain Haggerty. "Some people consider this a sign of intelligence. I think not."
Haggerty considers the pit bullterrier to be the most intelligent of the terriers, because all the dumb ones died in the pits. But apparently all the attractive ones died in the pits as well, and there must be very few people who would let a bullterrier crawl beneath the covers. But returning to the Russell. Betty Smith, an Englishwoman who owns Jack Russells, has practically made a study of how well they relate to people. She finds they are intelligent enough to communicate on many different levels. For instance, there is the ear level, and in her book, The Jack Russell Terrier, Mrs. Smith writes that they have "the most amazingly expressive ears, which they can move up and down like no other dog, and with which they can almost talk." The qualifier is dropped when she moves on to the barking level: "Once you learn their language, they can talk."