An Owner's Companion
by Frank & Jean Jackson
pub. Crowood Press, 2003
New Paperback Ed., 192 pages, £14.99
ISBN 0 186126 640 5
The opening three chapters of the Jackson's book on border terriers provide readers with some background to this hardy breed of dog. Border terriers were developed to eject foxes from places they had taken refuge, and by the 16th century they were part of the hunting establishment. At the time of writing the hardback edition of the book authors Frank and Jean Jackson could only allude to the Bill on hunting with animals which is now on Britain's statute books. The Jacksons also take readers through the tortuous development of the 'Breed Standard'; the first attempt being in 1909, and then revised in 1913 and 1915, and repeatedly afterwards. Eventually the modern breed standard was set by the Kennel Club in 1988.
From Chapter 4 onwards the book gets down to the business of owning a border terrier. There is advice on buying a new puppy from a reputable breeder, and avoiding adverts where the animals are sold as a commodity. Interestingly, we learn that the breed is not one that suffers from the 'rescued' animals problem and that border terriers are remarkable free of hereditary defects compared with some other breeds.
In the chapter on 'Care and Maintenance' the authors review the merits of housing indoors or outside in kennels, and also security. Apparently border terriers should not 'be left to their own devices in a garden which is any less secure than Alcatraz,' and reflect on bored terriers being likely to make escape attempts. The chapter also covers training, feeding, exercise, and insurance - border terriers 'among the breeds which seem attractive to thieves.' For anyone looking beyond mere terrier ownership there is a chapter on 'Breeding and Rearing', and includes details on the legal requirements involved, and also quality, appearance, genetics and whelping.
In Chapter 7, entitled 'A Border a Day', the authors begin by telling their readers that keeping a dog for companionship is good for your health, at least according to some research which also highlighted that: 'pet owners have a slightly higher intake of fried food and alcohol, but tended to have lower blood pressure.' When you enter the world of Showing off your terrier then one presumes blood pressure rises, and the remainder of the chapter reviews what is required of owners with an eye on that particular competitive world. The advice comes from years of experience in training, showing and judging, with the occasional forthright personal opinion thrown in. 'Certain exhibitors who still have some way to go before they cease to be novices entertain ambitions to judge,' caught my eye, as well as an observation that some judges are: 'needlessly rough when they examine a dog'.
The final three chapters cover a historical overview of top dogs and champions which have contributed towards the development of the breed; one on ailments and accidents - although border terriers are seldom ill; and lastly, border terriers overseas, which follows the impact of the border outside the UK after WW2, border terriers being particularly popular in Holland and Sweden.
Crowood Press titles can be bought online at their website: www.crowood.com or by calling 01672 520320.