"Fate or man plays strange pranks, and few stranger have been played than with this dog, the poodle. From early times we are able to follow the history of the variety without much difficulty. For many years it was an important sporting member of the canine tribe. Dr. Caius described it as the 'water spaniel or finder.' Gesner, Aldrovandus, Cirino, Topsell , give illustrations of the dog, with the hind quarters clipped, and a tuft of hair on the very end of its tail. [For further information about Caius, Gesner, and Topsell, see Finders...; Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1607), wrote multi-volume derivative natural history; Andreas Cirino, published derivative De Natura et Solertia Canum in 1653.] Later we have sporting prints, showing sportsmen shooting partridges, pheasants, hares, and ducks, with a clipped poodle 'all anxious' to retrieve the slain.
"Described in nearly every work dealing with dogs, it was noted for its retrieving capabilities, its swimming powers, and remarkable nose. At first the colours were varied and were much mixed, but gradually prejudice and fashion eliminated some and developed others, so that some disappeared completely and others became fixed and bred true.
"In 'The Arte of Fowling by Water and Land' [Gervase Markham, Hungers Prevention: or, The whole Arte of Fowling by Water and Land (London: 1621)]... a chapter...deals with 'The use of the Water Dogge, and the manner of trayning them'... [see ...guns; the headpiece for Main Menu is taken from Markham's book]. In 1780 Riedel [see "...Visuals"] gives a picture of a 'Pudel'...
"The Rev. William Hamilton, on his visit to Antrim, in a letter dated August 3, 1784, describes a water-dog he saw assisting the fishermen [lengthy anecdote about a water-dog who had learned to fish for spawning salmon in shallow water]. 'I was informed that it was no unusual thing for him to run down his game; and the fishermen assured me that he was of very great advantage to them, by turning the salmon toward the net.... During the whole of the chase this sagacious animal seemed plainly to have two objects in view; one to seize his game, if possible, and the other, to drive it towards the net when the former failed; each of which he managed with a degree of address and ingenuity extremely interesting and amazing.'
"Bewick gives an illustration of the rough water-dog, and states that it has 'great attachment to the water,' so that it can be placed 'at the head of those that frequent that element' [see Ships'... ].
"Taplin (1803), however, in his work shows a very much smarter creature.... He writes that this illustration [see "...Visuals", Reinagle] is an 'exact representation' from life. He understands that the variety was more or less a local one, and was more often to be found near the coast.... He tells us that though opinion varied, the black was believed to be the best and hardiest and thus least susceptible to fatigue, hunger, and danger; the spotted or pied best on scent, and for intelligence; the liver-coloured the most alert and the best swimmers; but he believed that 'good dogs of this breed are to be obtained in every colour'.... He tells us that the 'jet-black with white feet' stand high in estimation. He describes the rough water-dog to have a head 'rather round,' the nose short, the ears long, broad, and pendulous, the neck thick and short, the shoulders broad. Coat, 'natural elastic short curls, rather loose, which might be either long or shaggy,' the long coats being considered to indicate strength of constitution, the shaggy coats bodily weakness!
"He describes the training and states that he has been repeatedly present 'where a dog of this description has frequently brought different kinds of coin (previously spit upon by the master) from dark rooms and staircases!
"In this same chapter is a description of the shooting of fowl, in which the rough water-dog played an important part with the 5- and 6-foot barrel guns then in vogue, a proceeding so different from that of to-day that I give a few extracts. 'Huts are so curiously constructed,' he writes, 'with sods intermixed with loam...to form when finished a seeming part of the rock itself. To each hut is a door, a shelf within for the convenience of depositing provisions, and ammunition as well as three circular openings of 4 inches diameter (to the right, the left, and in the centre) for the discovery of the fowl on this approach, and the subsequent discharge of the gun when they fortunately happen to veer within shot.'
"Forty years later, Colonel H. Smith [see above, 1843] mentions the water dog as having rather a large head with long ears and rather short legs, standing 18 to 20 inches at the shoulder, and is of the opinion that the dog is a poodle, originally brought from Germany. 'The coarser crisped-haired water-dog,' he writes, 'was indeed long known to the middle classes of England and to fishermen on the north-eastern coast and professional wildfowlers.' These dogs, Colonel Smith writes, were occasionally brought to London in order to engage in the sport of hunting and worrying to death domestic ducks placed in the ponds for that purpose.
"Bingley [William Bingley, b. 1774, published Animal Biography or Popular Zooology (1802) and Memoires of British Quadrupeds (1809)] writes that the water-dog is believed to have been brought to this country from Spain. 'The hair of one of these dogs was so soft and fine in its texture that the owner cut it off, twice in the year, and each fleece was found sufficient to the manufacture into two hats, generally considered to be worth about 12s. each.'
"Thomas Bell [1792-1880; author of History of British Quadrupeds, (London: 1836)] deals with the rough water-dog more fully. From his pages we learn that it was a variety remarkable for its power of scenting with an 'exquisite sense of smell,' and that it was still greatly used by gunners earning their livelihoods by shooting wildfowl. He states that this breed must not be confused with the water-spaniel, for the former is more robust, and the muzzle is shorter, standing out 'abruptly from the face.' He alludes to the water-dog's power of finding coins (probably taken from Taplin's work), and he gives a story of one of these dogs, the property of a friend of his, travelling on the Continent, who on losing a louis d'or, searched for it diligently, but to no purpose. Returning home late that evening, 'his servant let him in with a face of much sorrow': the dog was ill, it had eaten nothing all day, but would not allow the servant to remove her food. No sooner had her master entered than the mysterious malady was cured. The louis d'or was in her mouth, where she had held it all day, and now, having delivered it to her master, devoured her food at a great speed.
That is all that Thomas Bell tells us, but it substantiates previous opinions. The illustration appearing in his pages of a dog of this kind is very similar to Taplin's picture and is probably based on it....[Speculation re customary clipping of coat; summary of Stonehenge (1859) (see above).]
In 1861 Meyrick [John Meyrick, House Dogs and Sporting Dogs... (London: 1861)] continues in the same vein, writing that in France the poodle accompanies the 'bourgeois sportsman,' pottering about the hedges in front of his master; and that it is the commonest dog there, except for 'the cur.' He had purchased a poodle from a poor student in a café in the Boulevards, one of remarkable intelligence, but the dog came to an untimely end, after swallowing a large pin-cushion, the bran, and probably several pins. He describes the poodle at that time as standing 15 to 18 inches high, the hair very thick, and falling in long, sharply twisted curls or ringlets, while the colour is either pure white or pure black, but that usually they were a mixture of the two colours.
"Later Idstone [Thomas Pierce, "of The Field" (a periodical) author of The Idsone Papers (1872), and The Dog (London, Paris, NY: 1872; 6th edition 189?] in his book states...that circus dogs or street performers were more often than not poodles, taught to leap through hoops, turn wheels, throw somersaults, walk round, and jump over obstacles on their hind legs, also that poodles pure or crossed were used in Hampshire and Wiltshire as truffle-hunters during the winter months [see Finders...]. For this purpose white dogs dogs were preferred, as much of the truffle-digging was done at night; but the colour of the dog was not of so much import, as dark dogs were clothed at night in white coats....poodles were usually white, and that black were rare, and in consequence in great demand.
"We obtain further information on the truffle-dog in Stonehenge's book in 1867.... In Walsh's (Stonehenge) work of 1878, the Appendix contains an article on the poodle by Wildflower [sic: Wildfowler; see above and ...guns]; whilst Idstone writes on the truffle dog. The former quotes Dr. Fitzinger in 'Der Hund und seine Racen,' who gives six varieties of poodles: the large... [Ash differs with Dr. Fitzinger; eliminates four of the six varieties; summarizes his predecessors; briefly summarizes contemporary conformation exhibition.]"
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