My wee dog , Fred is a Parsons Russell Terrier, of which there aren't that many in Scotland. For many years it was cats we had, and it has to be said that we "loved them to bits". I still do! However,about 25 years ago we got our first dog, Jura, a beautiful black labrador bitch, who shared our life for near on 12 years, and was greatly loved. When Jura died, we were disconsolate and reckoned that we could ease our pain by acquiring another black lab, which we did, that same year, whom we called Gem. Our beautiful Gem lived with us for 13 years, 3 months and each day of that time, she was the "love of our lives". Very sadly, my dear wife passed away during the last years of Jura's life, so that in the end I was left on my own in my house. I was. I thought, resolute in my decision not to take on another dog. These final visits to the vet with my beautiful labradors were extremely painful,and I had no wish to repeat these heart rending occasions again. When you say that your pet dog or cat is one of the family, or that their deaths can be harder to bear than those of some relatives, some people think that you have things out of proportion, and that you are a indeed very sad person. I plead not guilty on both counts.
Within the space of six months, I was stopping to speak to dog owners on the streets, asking about their dogs and giving them (ie. their dogs) a thoroughly good clap (no, not applause). Outside the supermarket, there might be three or four dogs there waiting for their owners to exit. I could spend ten minutes out there with the dogs, clapping and speaking to them. They sensed that I was a dog lover and responded to me with affection. A few kisses were exchanged but I drew the line at that bonnie boxer dog with those permanent" drools" hanging from both corners of his mouth. After a time I realised how I missed having a dog, how empty and quiet my home was, and how unfit I was getting without my daily walk with a dog.
I spoke to some friends and decided that I would get myself another dog. Even while I had my beautiful labrador retrievers, I always liked the look of the plucky wee Jack Russell terriers, dogs with attitude and fiercely loyal(I was told). On the internet I read a lot about the Jack Russell, and while doing this, I first read about the Parson Russell Terrier, and on seeing photographs of them , that was it - I was sold on getting one. Most people are familiar with the standard Jack Russell Terrier, coloured white with patches of tan and/or black, short in the leg,fearless and tenacious,and traditionally used in hunting. The Jack Russell name derives from the man responsible for initiating the breeding programme that results in the terriers we have today. The word "terrier" has nothing to do with "terror" but everything to do with "terra",the Latin word for "earth". That is to say that a terrier dog is one which burrows into the earth to capture or flush out prey. The Reverend John Russell (1795-1883) was a parson from Devon who was also a keen foxhunter (no comment!). He bred the original short-legged dog to go underground to flush out the fox for the chase. It was a success to a degree (the fox bolted), but the wee dogs' short legs could not keep up, as the hunt moved on. So, it was back to the drawing board for Pastor Russell. His answer was to cross his wee Jack Russell with a fox terrier, and in due course he got what he needed, a terrier with longer leg which could flush out the fox from its lair, and keep up with the hunt between times. The result, after selective breeding, is our Fred, a Parson Russell Terrier,as distinct from the Jack Russell Terrier,its better known relation. Fred is now 6 months old, and I may have to recount his early weeks with me retrospectively, as this blog was only set up a couple of days ago. The interaction of me,his master( ha !), and Fred the Shred (no.not that one) will be recorded on these pages for your delectation. Caveat canem,or something like that!