The Old-Fashioned Collie

Published in the July 15, 1912 issue of Country Life in America.

The number of people who have a warm place in their hearts for the old-fashioned collie or shepherd dog, and who appear to be concerned for the future of the breed is gratifyingly large. Since we first opened the discussion of this subject six months ago, we have received many letters from dog lovers who want to see the old-fashioned collie saved.

More surprising and amusing, however, is the attitude of certain dog fanciers and others interested in bench shows and in the modern collie. A few of them are genuinely interested in what we are trying to do; some regard us with mild indulgence; others profess not to know what we are talking about, or ever to have heard of the old-fashioned collie; while still others have apparently been made violently angry by our attitude, and fearful lest we might be trying to rob them of their prerogative of dictating what's what in the dog world. We shall publish a few of their letters to us in an early issue. We regret that they do not seem more disposed to help in what seems to us to be a worthy undertaking, for they could do more than any one else to save a fine old breed from extinction. But if they refuse to come out from behind their ramparts of Stud Books and Standards, we may have to struggle on without them.

Let us again repeat that we are not waging war against the modern collie. We love all dogs to well to wish ill to any, especially the Beau Brummel of them all. We are simply contending that in their zeal to perfect the modern collie, the fanciers and breeders have well-nigh crowded the old-fashioned collie out of existence, and we are trying to rally his friends to his aid.

Meanwhile, here are a few letters and photographs from dog lovers who do know what we're talking about.

To the Editors:

My attention has just been called to the communication from Mr. Otis Barnum, headed "Who is Breeding Old-Fashioned Collies?" That's what I want to know, and I am writing you in the hope that you may have learned of the existence of some available shepherd pups since the publication of Mr. Barnum's letter.

I owned a shepherd dog that died in 1904. Since that date I have tried to find another of the same breed, without success. I inquired first of the man who raised my dog--a farmer in Amherst, Mass.--and learned that both parents had died, and the brothers of my dog could not be traced. Since the death of my dog I have seen only one other of the same kind. He belonged to a farmer in my own town, and, according to the farmer, came from Vermont.

I can vouch for everything Mr. Barnum says in praise of the good old-fashioned collie. He has nothing in common with the treacherous modern collie, with stand-up ears, slit eyes, sharp nose, and busy-body manners. My dog "Drogo" was sturdy of limb, deep-chested, powerful-shouldered, and had blunt nose and big, honest eyes. I must confess that he was a fighter, but he always took a dog his size and always licked him. His method of attack was different from that of any other dog I have seen; he would leap into the air, like a bucking bronco, and come down with all his weight on the back of his adversary's neck. Then he would hang on; and the other dog, thus pinioned, would be unable to bite back.

Winchester, Mass.

Richard M. Hunt.

To the Editors:

I enclose some photographs old-time black-and-tan collie--the kind we should save from oblivion by forming an "Old-Fashioned Collie Club" The pups were bred by me in 1894.

Kings Creek, Md.

L. Catlin.

Diana and three of her puppies. She died in 1898. Owned by Mr. L. Catlin

To the Editors:

As a dog owner and lover I want to add a word in commendation of your expressed interest in the old-fashioned collie. It has been a cause of constant regret to many of us that we do not see him any more. These yellow-and-white, pointed-nosed collies are in no way his equal. They lack individuality; they lack animation and intelligence, and are by no means as useful or companionable as our old friend. The collie that I owned was brought up on a ranch in Montana. His name was "Homo." He was possessed of the finest qualities that I have ever seen in any dog; his intelligence was almost superhuman. When he died we placed a granite boulder at the head of his grave with his age, etcl, and had inscribed on it the promise from Isaiah, "And the tongue of the dumb shall sing."

Berlin, Conn.

Katharine Brandegee.

Side view of Homo, showing the short muzzle.

Homo's table manners showed his good breeding. He was brought up on a Montana ranch

To the Editors:

Just finished reading about the good "old-fashioned" collie dogs. Well do I remember the dear old collie dog--the "old-fashioned" kind--we had when I was on the farm twenty-five years ago. He was the most intelligent dog there ever was. He knew every word we said to him. He soon learned to go out tot the field and bring the cows up to the milking yard, and to lie down at the barn yard gate so that the cattle could not go back to the field. When we first got him he would come and sit under my bedroom window and whine until I would awake and poke my head out of the window and say, Carlo, go get the cows," when off he would scamper; but he soon learned when to get them himself.

Wishing you every success in your efforts to encourage the breeding of the noble, broad-faced, intelligent old-fashioned collie dog.

Chicago, Ill.

George W. Mills.

To the Editors:

Helen, our little girl, and Jess, our old-fashioned collie, are inseparable friends. They are four and five years old respectively. No "old dog Tray" was ever more faithful than Jess to Helen. He is a thoroughbred, born in Connecticut, his father and mother both having registered pedigrees, and Jess is a chip off the old block. Helen calls him her "steady." When she was but an infant and asleep in her carriage in the yard, Jess would lie by the side of the carriage on guard until relieved; should baby awake he would put his front feet on the side of the carriage and look at her, then start off to find someone who could attend to her wants. Now that Helen has grown, "almost as tall as mother," and is pretty rough sometimes with her "love taps," old Jess dog takes it all in good part and returns a lick for a blow, and the fight ends by his getting something nice to eat and "everybody happy."

But when the dogcatchers come to town
They start chasing my dog aroun.'
I've paid the license on that pup
And there can't no dog catcher pick him up.
He don't pretend to be a houn',
And they "Jess" gotta stop chasin' my dog aroun'.

New Rochelle, N.Y.

M.E. Lordell.

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