HUNTING WITH TRADITIONAL WORKING AIREDALE TERRIERS
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
A pretty accurate assessment of the Airedale and his use as a hunting dog from the early 1900s.
Airedales and Their Training By L. L. E.
I AM not going to waste space telling you all about the history of Airedales. You can look that up; probably have already; what I hope to do is say something with at least some newness in it. I am decidedly favorable to the Airedale; and believe I can give some good reasons why you should be. I once heard a man at a dogshow praise this dog in substantially these words:
The Airedale is not as good at retrieving as the Setter; not as good finding as the Pointer; can't trail like the Beagle; nor run like the Greyhound; but he can do all of these things; summed up; better than any of these dogs. The gentleman meant this as a compliment; and it is; but he didn't go far enough. He voiced the usual attitude; that is; the Airedale is an all-purpose clog without a specialty.
My claim is that the Airclale has a specialty; an important one; in his fighting ability. Some breeder has said that an Airedale can do anything any other dog can do and then whip the other dog; and this is almost literally true. But you may argue that fighting is of no use. But listen; the fighting instinct is; you and I do not need pugilistic prowess in our daily life; but we do have constant use for that.
It is easy to get a puppy whose parents have proved their possession of the traits you desire in your hunter.
Next, start your Airedale's training earlier than you would that of most other breeds. His superior intelligence and physical hardihood make him at six months the equal, both in receptivity and performance, of many dogs half as old again.
Start him on rats. Though the biggest of terriers, still the Airedale is a terrier in nature, and ratting is as natural to him as swimming is to a fish. He will need no particular training. Put a few rats in a hole, after letting him see them, and he will do the rest. The ground must not be so hard as to discourage his first few attempts, and it is a good plan to select young rats. The idea is to make certain of your dog's success while he is a beginner. Assuming that your Airedale is to be used for all-round purposes, as most of these dogs are, rabbit-running will be good training, though on account of the difference in scenting power few if any Airedales ever class with the Beagle as an out-andout rabbit dog. While the terrier can handle a body scent fairly well, the foot scent stumps him. He is unexcelled in stirring bunny out, putting him on the run, because of his boundless energy, and he can catch a rabbit on a fair run; but he is not at his best when rabbitting. The Airedale is a champion on digging, and I believe him peerless as a badger or skunk dog.
Some writers term the Airedale a mute hunter. Of course dogs of the same breed often differ widely, but most of the terriers I have known were plenty full of bark. It is for this reason that they make good partridge doga. Of course any dog can put up a bunch of birds when he runs among them, but anAiredale is so full of energy, antics, and "barks" that he interests them far more than a sedate dog could.
So curious are the birds to learn about this bold noisy interloper that they will perch on a low limb and actually invite disaster from the shotgun, remaining even after several are shot down. And it is the same with a squirrel: he will quarrel with and tantalize a dog when nothing else could keep him out of his hole. The Airedale terrier will keep him interested every minute, and perhaps give the hunter several shots.
The Airedale makes an excellent retriever, particularly from water. I am aware that many old duck shooters scorn the idea and argue that the Setter has no equal. But facts are stubborn things, and it has been positively proved that the Airedale often equals any Setter. Here again his innate courage is an advantage; he will unflinchingly meet conditions that make a Setter hesitate, and consequently will reach the bird quicker. Though he does not possess the Chesapeake Bay's coat, he is fully as ready to enter cold water. And in the water he is the strongest of dogs, and the best diver.
Though a staunch admirer of the Setter and Spaniel, I must say that I have seen some of these dogs decidedly slow, even unwilling, on diving. An Airedale owner gives an interesting experience: As a result of an argument with the owner of a Setter, he bet that his terrier would do something in the way of retrieving that the bird-dog would not do. The wager was made, $5! believe ;and the Airedalebooster tied a rock to a rabbit he had shot, threw it into the water, and told his dog to "fetch." Without a moment's hesitation, even eagerly, the terrier did it; he went clear out of sight but when he came up he had the rabbit, and he delivered it "to hand."
I should say the Airedale's greatest virtue as a hunter lies in his "backing up" quality. He is at his best with a pack of hounds; they trail the game to bay and the Airedale finishes it. His great stamina leaves him comparatively fresh after a long run. If he shows too much inclination to fight the other dogs, keep him muzzled until his teeth are required, meantimes curing the fault by suitable reproof—not too severe.
One thing more. In training the Airedale always remember that there is one little thing more distracting to him than to other dogs, his master's voice. Don't speak, even to praise him, until he has finished his task; for so great is this wonderful fellow's love for his human pal that he may impulsively drop the work in hand and rush pellmell to your side. And don't scold him much; for this trait is what makes him the greatest "one man dog" in existence.