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(Updated 3/8/01)

Tales from the Forest of Burnley
- a fine place for a grasshopper mind

by Harry Baxter


New Forest, certainly
Forest of Dean, probably
Forest of Bowland, perhaps
Forest of Burnley,
almost certainly not
(known, that is)

BURNLEY IS a declining industrial town, its past prosperity based on cotton and coal, the one long gone East in search of lower labour costs; the other, victim of the death blow dealt the mining industry nationally. Part of Burnley’s heritage is many hundreds of small terraced houses built close to the weaving sheds and pits where the occupants worked, their lack of gardens in part compensated for by four large town parks.

I was born here, and lived half my life here. Still I have not heard of the Forest of Burnley until it became an environmental project financed by the national lottery. Measured by permanence and benefit per head of the local population, in my opinion it outdoes the Millennium Dome. Its nucleus is the woodland estate surrounding the 15th century hall, originally named for for the Towneley family, now a park owned by the borough council, a link in the 35 mile long Burnley Way, a series of footpaths and bridle paths linking Burnley, Accrington and Blackburn.

Red pictured at the Champion Lakeland Dog Working Terrier show.

During the time the foot and mouth epidemic was at its height, the park was the only part of the ‘forest’ still open to walkers with dogs – on leash. Since reopening, there have been no moves towards making temporary restrictions permanent, which may be surprising to those who remember that it was from Burnley that Mavis Thornton and John Eccles went to Holloway and Strangeways prisons for their refusal to be bound by a High Court injunction against exercising their dogs in the town’s parks in contravention of a bye-law introduced in an underhand way. As a consequence of their protest, the Home Office gave assurances that no other town would be able to bring in a bye-law concerning dogs in the same way. In future, all councils would have to notify animal welfare groups of any proposed legislation, so that they might protest if they so wished.

Discussion

Though the universally popular Golden Retrievers, Labradors and English Springers, Border Collies and Jack Russells are most often seen, there are lots of terriers – more Cairns than Scotties, more Scotties than Sealyhams, and some whose proper identity is the subject of discussion and dispute. Wildlife is limited to a few foxes on the moorland stretches and to rabbits, grey squirrels and feral pigeons. Many of the dog owners would be criminalised if the Hunting with Dogs Bill were to become law. The urban environment in which many of the dogs live has done little to suppress their instincts. One five-years-old Welsh Terrier bitch, a daily visitor, whose elderly owner is very proud of her relationship to the 1998 Crufts best in show, Ch Saredon Forever Young, is as interested in the squirrels now as she was as a puppy. The urban-grown attitudes of many of their owners are evident in their all-year-round feeding of both squirrels and pigeons – well meaning, but misguided.

The terriers whose designation so often differs according to their owners are variously described as Lakeland, Fell or Patterdale.

In the Lakeland Terrier notes in a contemporary journal, June 22, there was an account of a purchase of a ‘Lakeland’ for £80, for which a pedigree was not forthcoming. Apparently, the breeder had said there was no pedigree ‘as the Kennel Club does not register this breed’. The price and ‘the fact that the KC had recognised the breed since 1930’ confirmed the writer’s fears ‘that this was not a true Lakeland’. It occured to me that there was not, necessarily, any attempt to misrepresent nor to deceive.

After judging working terriers at the Cuckfield Country Fair for the Fell and Moorland Working Terrier Club in May 1997, Mark Giles wrote ‘The champion dog was very hard to decide and it was between a black Patterdale and a Lakeland, a nice looking terrier owned by Mr W Spencer’. Clearly two models are both regarded as true Lakelands. The red dog shown in picture 1 is not the dog which won at Cuckfield, but as near a look-alike as I can find, the wheaten terrier (picture 2) was a BOB winner at a European show.

Lakeland Terrier championship show BOB winner.

In 1993, the magazine Earth Dog – Running Dog, published a photo feature ‘Lakeland, Fell or Patterdale? What’s in a name?’ It continued ‘Plenty when that name is Patterdale! It sends many terrieremen into a rage – no such thing they say – but look at the dogs on his page. Are they all the same? Three of the four dogs shown ‘were prominent at the outstanding Terrier Show at this year’s Welsh Game Fair’. First was a short-trimmed black-and-tan Lakeland, similar, apart from colour to the red dog at Cuckfield. Second was a rough-coated chocolate, in my opinion a Fell. Third, a smooth-coated black (a Patterdale?) and fourth another rough-coated dog, similar to the chocolate, but black. The photographer was Tom Fahy, from Ireland, who asked ‘How would you describe them? Working terriers for sure. We all know what a Lakeland should look like (or do we?) and Fell covers just about any sin. Patterdale? is there such such an animal?’

Even as recently as the 1974 edition of The Observer’s Book of Dogs, the page on the Lakeland Terrier was sub-titled Fell Terrier, Patterdale Terrier. In Sporting Dog magazine (February 1993), Brian Plummer attempted to define the Patterdale: ‘If one wishes to be totally accurate, and a shade pedantic, in fact the terriers bred at Patterdale and in nearby Glenridding were long coated wheaten or fawn terriers, often quite heavily built dogs, very different in type and colour from the dogs the modern working fraternity are wont to call Patterdales.

‘However, after 1912 the term Patterdale Terrier was synonymous with the expression Lakeland Terrier and was usually applied to the more refined fell terriers that would later achieve KC recognition although the KC registered terriers of today bear little resemblance to the fell terriers from which they are descended.’

In Hunt and Working Terriers (1931, but re-published by Tideline Books, 1984), Captain Jocelyn Lucas used all three names to head a short chapter, in which he quoted Braithwaite Wilson, the huntsman to the Ullswater Foxhounds: referring to the Lakeland Terrier Association, he says that he does not agree with what they are doing ‘they are leaving the old Patterdale type, their terriers have too much white and Bedlington in them to be able to stand the hard weather’, and ‘for colour they prefer blue-and-tan whereas in the old breed you seldom see a blue-and-tan dog. Our colours are red, brown grizzle, or wheaten, with an occasional black one or blue-and-tan.’

Four months old Asian Owcharka,
offered for sale at the world Show in June 2001.

Perhaps after all the terrier that was bought for £80 without papers is just as much a Lakeland in the eyes of working terrier men as the KC registered model. As to price, it is generally much less, evidence in recent advertisements in Countryman’s Weekly ‘Patterdale pups, sire Nuttall. Dam Brightmore. Working parents, £90’, and ‘Lakeland Terrier dog, 12 months old. Red. Very smart. Working lines, £150’. As to pedigree, many unregistered working terriers have extensive records of their breeding.

All kinds of factors govern the sale of dogs, and the price. Sometimes it seems the breeds in which desired physical features seem likely to lead to health problems are those which command the highest prices, sometimes it is the most recently introduced. Sales at shows are not encouraged, sometimes banned entirely. At the recent world show, a four months old Middle European Owtcharke, handsome and well reared, was openly advertised for sale, the price, US$ 2,000, up to ten times more than it might fetch in its native Russia.

Those whose admiration for foxhounds had led them to import from Australia and America, against the convention of Masters of Foxhunds, may not need to go so far afield or to such expense. UK and French practices are not the same. ‘In the nineteenth century and early in this century, hounds were sometimes auctioned when a Master gave up. There were hound sales at Rugby in Warwickshire. Nowadays, the MFHA discourages sales. Hounds may be drafted singly or in groups to other packs when there is a joint agreement between Masters. Since most packs actually belong to the Hunt itself, as represented by the committee, and not to the Masters, the wholesale disposal of a pack because a Mastership has ended does not arise nowadays. If the Hunt itself disbands then the hounds are drafted to other packs without any payment.

Pressures

‘These practices have ensured that the foxhound entirely escapes from the commercial dog show pressures which have done so much harm to so many domestic breeds.’ (The Chase, Michael Clayton, pub Stanley Paul, 1987).
Hound sales are not controlled in the same way in France. In a recent issue of Le Chasseur Francais magazine, eighteen breeds of scent hound were advertised for sale. Twenty-five of the 49 adverts included the letters LOF – Livre des Origines Francaises – indicating that the matings and births had been registered. In this issue, no Foxhounds were advertised, the closest being Anglo-Francais.

If the tail is not to be carried over the back,
why do handlers persist in presenting it as though it were?

It looks like being a good harvest. Alongside the woodland paths there’s elder blossom in profusion and flowers on the blackberry bushes to match. The flowers and leaves of elder and blackberry are more used than the berries in herbal medicine and used internally and externally. Externally, elder is used most in the treatment of skin conditions and eye complaints, from puppy rash to eczema and mange, from conjunctivitis to ulcers, and for bathing milk glands in false pregnancies. Internally, it is a remedy for anaemia. In Juliette de Bairacli’s Herbal Book of the Dog, there are fourteen references to elder, seven to blackberry. One of the criticisms of herbal medicine is the range of conditions for which one herb is recommended, but it is an objection which might also be raised against some allopathic treatments.

Nettles are there in profusion – and dandelions. These can be used fresh, or dried: the June sun was ideal for this. Dogs are not vegetarians. Herbs play a small but important part in a natural rearing diet, fed daily on the meat meal, and have to be pulped as they are not easily digested. Nettles and dandelions, parsley, mint, watercress, nasturiums are all suitable. Nettles are most for internal use, important in the diet of in-whelp bitches and arthritic or rheumatic dogs. Externally nettle tea makes a good rinse after bathing, giving a gloss to the coat. Herbal treatments will be most effective in dogs on a ‘natural feeding’ regime.

Contradictions

Surely the Kennel Club and the affected breed clubs should have been aware of the risk of introducing contradictions when describing the preferred tail carriage in undocked dogs of breeds traditionally docked. Is there not a danger of perpetuating such apparent contradictions as in the early standard of th Irish Terrier Club, as set out in Rawdon B Lee’s Modern Dogs (Terriers): ‘Stern – generally docked, should be free of fringe or feather, set on pretty high, carried gaily, but not over the back or curled’. What some of the breed clubs are said to want and what the Kennel Club General Committee has seen fit to approve appear contradictory: Airedale – set high and carried gaily, not curled over the back. Fox Terrier (Smooth) set on rather high and carried gaily but not over back. Irish Terrier set on pretty high, carried gaily but not over back or curled. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, set on high, carried gaily but not over the back. Russian Black Terrier, may curl over the back, not gay. Generally speaking with regard to dogs we are not giving ‘gaily’ its OED definition but that traditionally specific to dogs as in Frank Jackson’s Dictionary of Canine Terms (Crowood Press, 1995) ‘Gay stern – hound’s tail carried over the back’ or indeed in the Kennel Club’s own glossary of canine terms ‘Gay tail – The tail carried very high or over a dog’s back. A term sometimes used when a tail is carried higher than th carriage approved in the breed standard.’
What will those who translate the standards into the other official languages of the FCI make of it?