There is no animal so widely distributed as the dog. The like assertion could not be made of any other domesticated creature. In countries subjected to the extremes of heat or cold, in the centre of Africa, and at the Northern Pole, the horse is absent; but wherever man is able to exist, there, in some shape or other, the dog is represented. Various have been the speculations as to its original. There is no animal in any way approaching in outward appearance to the Canine Species (properly so called), but has been assumed to be the original parent of the family. Some have even fancied the fox was father to all the dogs that trot by the side of man; but this idea seems too preposterous to be maintained. Others, with more reason, have supposed the prototype of the dog was discovered in the wolf. There are, however, many differences to reconcile before this hypothesis can be received. The formation of the two animals is distinct,—their anatomy presents positive differences,—their time of breeding does not agree,—their habits are opposite, and their outward and inward character is entirely dissimilar. The above engraving is the portrait of the wolf. Is the reader in any danger of mistaking it for that of a dog?
Thus the apparent separation of the two species appears to be so wide, that a child could point it out, and none but a philosopher could confound it. Others, again, have gone to warmer climates for the founder of the kind, which they have, to their own satisfaction, discovered in the jackal: but there are very many obstacles to be surmounted, before this supposition can be acknowledged. In the first place, although the dog is to be found in warm climates, he thrives least in those to which the jackal is entirely confined. Then all that has been urged against the fancy which conceived the prototype of the dog was to be found in the wolf, applies with even[Pg 75] greater force to the jackal. However, to settle the dispute, we here give the likeness of the beast, and leave to the reader to point out the particular breed of dogs to which it belongs.
Beyond the circumstance of the habitats of the animals being distinct, is the well-known fact that all domesticated animals have a disposition to return to their original formation; but who ever heard of a dog, however neglected, or however wild, becoming either a wolf or a jackal?
The dog is spread all over the world, and not only is the animal thus widely distributed over the face of the earth, but there is no creature that is permitted with such perfect safety to the human race to have such continual and intimate intercourse with mankind. It is found in every abode: the palace, the warehouse, the mansion, and the cottage, equally afford it shelter. No condition of life is there with which the dog is not connected. The playmate of the infant, the favorite of the woman, the [Pg 76] servant of the man, and the companion of the aged, it is seen in and around every home.
Thus brought into intimate connexion with the human race, and continually subject to observation, it is not a little strange that the dog should be universally misunderstood. There is no quadruped which is more abused; whether treated kindly or otherwise, the dog is equally made to suffer; and probably the consequences of over indulgence are more cruel in their result than is the opposite course of treatment. The health of the beast is perhaps best preserved when neglect deprives it of man's attention; then it may suffer from want, but it escapes many of the diseases which caprice or ignorance entail upon the generality of the tribe. There exists no creature more liable to disorder, and in which disease is prone to assume a more virulent or a more complicated form. To minister to its afflictions, therefore, demands no inconsiderable skill; and it becomes the more difficult to alleviate them, since canine pathology is not fully comprehended, nor the action of the various medicines upon the poor beast clearly understood; yet there are few persons who in their own estimation are not able to vanquish the many diseases to which the dog is liable. About every stable are to be met crowds of uneducated loiterers, possessors of recipes and owners of specifics, eager to advise and confident of success. I seldom send a diseased dog into the park for exercise, that my servant does not return to me with messages which strangers have volunteered how to cure the animal. I hear of[Pg 77] medicines that never fail, and of processes that always afford relief. Persons often of the upper rank honor me with secret communications which in their opinion are of inestimable value; ladies frequently entreat me to try particular nostrums, and sportsmen not seldom command me to do things which I am obliged to decline. In fact, the man who shall attempt to treat the diseases of the dog, will have no little annoyance to surmount. He will soon discover that science unfortunately can afford him but partial help, while prejudice on every side increases the difficulties with which he will have to contend.
Happily, however, the majority of pretended cures are harmless. A roll of sulphur in the animal's water may be permitted, since it amuses the proprietor while it does not injure his dog. Some of these domestic recipes, nevertheless, are far from harmless, and they are the more to be deprecated, because those which most people would imagine to be safe are the very ones which are attended with the greatest danger. Common salt is a poison to the dog; tobacco is the source of many a death in the kennel; castor oil often does the ill which months of care are needed to efface, even if the life be not destroyed. In the majority of cases vomits are far from beneficial; bleeding is very seldom required, and the warm bath has sealed the doom of innumerable animals.
The foregoing observations will have informed the reader of the reasons that prompt the publication of the present work, which is put forth only as a step towards[Pg 78] the point the author does not yet pretend to have fully attained. The study of years will be required to perfect that which is now commenced, and further experience will probably demand the retraction of many of the opinions herein advanced. The reader will understand, the author in the present work asserts only that which he now believes. It must not be imagined, however positive may read the language in which his sentiments are expressed, that the writer is pledged to uphold any of the conclusions at which he may have arrived; knowledge is in its nature progressive, and canine pathology is not yet clearly made out. The advantages which accompany the study of anatomy, physiology, and therapeutics have yet to be more largely applied to the diseases of the dog, and until this has been accomplished, science, not reposing upon truth, will be constantly subjected to change. The present work, therefore, will be accepted only as a contribution to veterinary literature, and its contents will be viewed as doing nothing more than declaring the temporary convictions of one, who, desirous of truth, does not conceal that his mind is oppressed by many doubts.
In the following pages advantage will be freely taken of the labours of those authors who have written upon the subject; nor must it be supposed, because the writer may feel himself obliged to dissent from, he therefore undervalues the genius of Blaine or Youatt. Before Blaine collected and arranged the knowledge which existed concerning the diseases of the dog, canine pathology,[Pg 79] as a separate or distinct branch of veterinary science, hardly existed. The task he accomplished; but if after the lapse of years some of his opinions are found to be unsound, and some of his statements discovered to require correction, these circumstances may be regarded as the natural consequences of progression, while they in no way deteriorate from the honor due to his name. Youatt enlarged and softened the teaching of his master, and by the liberality of his communications, and the gentleness of his example, improved and adorned the science to which he was attached. To others than these two great men I have no obligations to acknowledge. For their memories I take the opportunity of expressing the highest respect, and confess that to their instruction is fairly due any novelty which the present pages may contain; since but for those advantages their teaching afforded, it is more than doubtful if I had perceived the facts herein made known.
Before any mention is made of the diseases of the dog, it will be proper to take some notice of the temperament of the animal, as without regarding this the best selected medicines, or the most assiduous attention, may be of no avail. Any one who will observe the animal will soon be made aware of its excessive irritability. The nervous system in this creature is largely developed, and, exerting an influence over all its actions, gives character to the beast. The brain of the dog is seldom in repose, for even when asleep the twitching of the legs and the suppressed sounds which it emits inform us that it is dreaming.[Pg 80] No animal is more actuated by the power of imagination. Who is there that has not seen the dog mistake objects during the dusk of the evening? Delirium usually precedes its death, and nervous excitability is the common accompaniment of most of its disorders. To diseases of a cerebral or spinal character it is more liable than is any other domesticated animal. Its very bark is symbolical of its temperament, and its mode of attack energetically declares the excitability of its nature. The most fearful of all the diseases to which it is exposed (rabies), is essentially of a nervous character, and there are few of its disorders which do not terminate with symptoms indicative of cranial disturbance. This tendency to cerebral affections will, if properly considered, suggest those casual and appropriate acts which the dog in affliction may require, and which it would be impossible for any author fully to describe. Gentleness should at all times be practised; but to be truly gentle the reader must understand it is imperative to be firm. Hesitation, to an irritable being, is, or soon becomes, positive torture.
He who would attend upon the dog must be able to command his feeling, and, whatever fear he may be conscious of, he must have power to conceal his emotion. The hand slowly and cautiously advanced, to be hastily retracted, is nearly certain to be bitten. Whatever therefore is attempted should be done with at least the appearance of confidence, and the determination of the man will, in the generality of cases, check the disposition[Pg 81] of the beast. There should be no wrestling or fighting. The practitioner should so prepare his acts as to prevent the dog in the first instance from effectually resisting, and the animal mastered at the commencement is usually afterwards submissive. If, however, from any cause, the primary attempt should not be effective, the attendant, rather than provoke a contest which can be productive of no beneficial result, should for a brief period retire, and after a little time he may with better success renew his purpose.
Strange dogs are not easily examined in their own homes, especially if they be favorites and their indulgent owners are present. Like spoiled children, the beasts seem to be aware of all the advantages which the affections of their master give to their humors. They will assume so much, and play such antics, as renders it impossible to arrive at any just conclusion as to the actual state of their health. Dogs in fact are great impostors, and he who has had much to do with them soon learns how cunningly the pampered "toy" of the drawing-room can "sham." For deception, consequently, it is necessary to be prepared, and practice quickly teaches us to distinguish between what is real and that which is assumed. The exertion, however, required to feign disturbs the system, and the struggle which always accompanies the act renders it frequently impossible to make the necessary observation with requisite nicety. Petted dogs are, therefore, best examined away from their homes, and in the absence of any one who has been in the habit[Pg 82] of caressing them. Frequently I have found it of no avail to attempt the examination of these creatures at the residences of their owners; but the same animals brought to my surgery have, without a struggle, allowed me to take what liberties I pleased. I usually carry such dogs into a room by myself, and commence by quickly but gently lifting them off their legs and throwing them upon their backs. This appears to take the creatures by surprise, and a little assurance soon allays any fear which the action may have excited. The dog seldom after resists, but permits itself to be freely handled. Should, however, any disposition to bite be exhibited, the hand ought immediately to grasp the throat, nor should the hold be relinquished until the creature is fully convinced of the inutility of its malice, and thoroughly assured that no injury is intended towards it. A few kind words, and the absence of anything approaching to severity, will generally accomplish the latter object in a short period, and confidence being gained, the brute seldom violates the contract.
Dogs are intelligent and honorable creatures, and no man will have reason to regret who teaches himself to trust in their better qualities. I have hitherto, in a great measure, escaped their teeth, and being slow and infirm, my good fortune certainly cannot be attributed to my activity. Kindness and consideration work upon animals; nor do I believe there are many of the lower creatures that will not appreciate such appeals. It is better, therefore, to work upon the sympathetic nature[Pg 83] of the brute, than to compete with it in strength, or endeavor to outvie it in agility. Manual dexterity will often fail, and is seldom employed save when danger is present. Mental supremacy appealing to the source of action ensures safety, by subduing, not the resistance, but the desire to resist.
It is easy to ascertain when the dog has regained that tranquillity which would allow of its being trusted with security. The eye need alone be consulted, and a little observation will speedily instruct any one to read its meaning correctly. When the creature is irritated, the pupil invariably dilates, and by singly marking this circumstance, the temper of the beast may be correctly ascertained. Nor should caution be discarded until the contracted circle assures that the agitation has passed away.
With the smaller kind of spaniels and the generality of petted animals, the indications of the eye may be depended upon; but with the more robust and less familiarized species it is safest to take some precaution, even, while the sign of sagacity is exhibited. Certain dogs, those of coarse breeds and large size, are exceedingly treacherous, and sometimes are not safe even to their masters. Creatures of this kind are, however, usually as devoid of courage as they are deficient of magnanimity; and by the display of resolution are to be readily subdued.
When, however, really sick, there are few dogs which may not be approached. Under such circumstances, the[Pg 84] utmost gentleness should be employed. The stranger should advance quietly, and not bustle rudely up to the animal. He should speak to it in accents of commiseration, which will be better comprehended than the majority of reasonable beings may be willing to admit.
The hand after a little while should be quietly offered to the dog to smell, and that ceremony being ended, the pulse may be taken, or any other necessary observation made, without dread of danger. Every consideration, however, ought to be given to the condition of the beast. No violence on any account should be indulged; it is better to be ignorant of symptoms than to aggravate the disorder by attempting to ascertain their existence. If the brain should be affected, or the nervous system sympathetically involved, silence is absolutely imperative. No chirping or loud talking ought under such circumstances to be allowed, and the animal should not be carried into the light for the purpose of inspecting it. The real condition of the patient, and the extent or nature of its disease, will be best discovered by silently watching the animal for some time, and attentively noting those actions which rarely fail to point out the true seat of the disorder. Consequently manual interference is the less needed, and in numerous instances I have, when the creature has appeared to be particularly sensitive to being handled, trusted to visible indications, and done so with perfect success. The hand certainly can confirm the eye, but the mind, properly directed,[Pg 85] can often read sufficient without the aid of a single sense.
Having made the foregoing remarks, which the intelligence of the reader will readily enlarge, it will next be necessary to describe in what way the dog should be examined. Simple as this operation may appear, it is one which few persons properly comprehend; and as upon it everything depends, it will not be out of place to devote a few lines to its explanation.
The dog, in the first place, should be permitted to run about, released from every restraint, or only so far confined as is necessary to prevent his escape from the limits of observation. No attempt should be made to attract the animal's attention, but the practitioner, seating himself in one corner, ought to be perfectly still and silent. The way in which the creature moves; whether it roams about, stands motionless, appears restless or indifferent, avoids the light, seems desirous of companionship, or huddles itself into some place as far as possible removed from inspection; whether it crouches down, curls itself round, sits upon its haunches, turns round and round trying to bite its tail, drags itself along the floor, or lies stretched out either upon its side or belly; in what manner the head is carried, and to what part it is directed; if any particular place is licked, bitten, or scratched; if thirst is great, or the dog by scenting about shows an inclination for food; the nature of the breathing, the expression of the countenance, the appearance of the coat, and the general condition of the body, should[Pg 86] all be noted down. When such points have been observed, the animal is addressed by name, and attempts may be made to approach and to caress it; the way in which it responds, submits to, or resents such advances being carefully remarked.
The dog may then be handled. The eyes and their membrane are inspected, to see if the one be dull or moistened by any discharge, and if the other be reddened, pallid, yellow, or discolored.
The ears are next felt around, their edges lifted to discover if any blackened wax or soreness be present in their convolutions, and slightly squeezed to ascertain if any crackling sensation is communicated to the fingers, or sign of pain evinced by the animal.
The nose is now to be remarked. If it be moist or dry; and if dry, whether it is at all encrusted. The back of the hand or side of the cheek should be applied to the part to ascertain its temperature.
The lips should next be raised, and the state of their lining membrane, with the condition of the teeth, observed.
The jaws should then be separated, that the tongue may be seen sufficiently to note its color, and the breath smelt.
The hand should subsequently be passed over the head and along the back, to feel the hair, and discover whether there exist any sore places or tumors concealed beneath it. The coat may now be generally examined, to find whether in any part the covering is thin or[Pg 87] deficient. Its firmness should afterwards be tried, and the itchiness of the skin tested by the nails, as well as its thickness and pliancy ascertained between the fingers.
The hand should also be applied to the throat, and carried along the course of the windpipe, feeling for any swelling of the salivary glands, or enlargement of the thyroid. It is next passed to the abdomen, and the inferior part of the cavity is gently pressed upwards, to ascertain if the rectus abdominis muscle be contracted, or the animal shows symptoms of tenderness. The abdomen may subsequently be kneaded between the fingers. The amount of fat should not be unnoticed, nor should the firmness of the muscles pass unobserved.
When all this is accomplished, the dog is laid upon its side or back, and the tail being elevated, the anus is inspected and felt, to see whether it be inflamed or protruded, and to feel if it be indurated or thickened.
The feet are now taken up, and the length and shape of the nails, with the condition of the dew claws, inspected, to see whether they are growing into the flesh, or by their shortness indicate the animal has been accustomed to healthful exercise. The pad and web also receive a glance.
If the animal be a male, the prepuce is first pressed and then withdrawn, to perceive if any discharge be present, or if the lining membrane be inflamed or ulcerated.
Should it be a bitch, the vulva are inspected, to[Pg 88] observe if they are moistened by any exudation, or if they are swollen and excited by the touch. They are separated to observe the color of the lining membrane.
The mammæ are then felt, to know if the animal has ever borne pups, or if any of them are hardened. At the same time the parts are squeezed, to discover whether or not they contain milk.
Such is a general description of the manner of proceeding, but there are many possibilities which the above directions, lengthy and minute as they may read, do not include. Such, for instance, as hernia, and disease of the testicle or scrotum. All, however, it would not be necessary to describe at length, and the foregoing instructions will lead the eye to any extraordinary appearances should they exist. The experienced practitioner probably will do less than is here set down, being educated to a promptitude which enables him to leap as it were at once to those parts which deserve his attention. For such the above is not intended; but he who has not made the dog his special study, will certainly find his advantage in going through the whole ceremony; nor will the most experienced practitioner habitually neglect any portion of it, without having cause to lament his inattention. To examine the dog properly, is perhaps even more difficult than to perform the same office upon the horse, and certainly it is a duty which there are few persons qualified to discharge.
Having spoken of the proper manner of examining the animal, before I proceed to describe its diseases, I shall[Pg 89] touch upon some of those matters which are essential to its health. It will, however, be understood that I do not here pretend to treat of hounds, which for the most part are well attended to, and fed, exercised, &c., according to the judgment of the individual entrusted with the superintendence of the kennel. Little probably could be written which would materially amend the condition of these creatures; but petted and housed dogs are commonly treated after a fashion with which judgment has nothing to do. Persons are indulgent to their animals, and imagine that they are also kind, when too often they oppose the dictates of their reason to gratify the weakness of their momentary impulses. A little reflection will convince such people that humanity does not consist in the yielding to every expression of desire. The dog, in a state of nature, being carnivorous, and obliged to hunt for its food, in all probability would not feed every day; certainly it would seldom make more than one meal in twenty-four hours. When the prey was caught, it would be torn to pieces, and with the flesh much earth would be swallowed. The animal, however, is now to be regarded as subjected to man; but while so viewing it, nothing will be lost by keeping in sight its primitive habits.
The dog can fast for a great number of days. Abstinence for forty-eight hours seldom injures it; but it is a practice which ought not to be too frequently adopted, as by its repetition the digestion is weakened. One meal, however, is sufficient, in every case, for the twenty-four hours. [Pg 90]Animals not worked, but kept as favourites, or allowed only to range at pleasure, should not have any meat, nor be permitted to consume any large quantity of fatty substances. Butter, fat, or grease, soon renders the skin of the dog diseased and its body gross. Milk, fine bread, cakes, or sugar, are better far for children, and can be on the human race bestowed with advantage; while given to the brute they are apt to generate disorders, which a long course of medicine will not in every case eradicate. Beer, wine, or spirits, all of which the dog can be induced to drink, show rather the master's ignorance than the creature's liking. Nice food, or that which a human being would so consider, is in fact not fitted to support the dog in health. It may appear offensive to ladies when they behold their favourites gorge rankly, but Nature has wisely ordained that her numerous children should, by their difference of appetite, consume the produce of earth. The dog, therefore, can enjoy and thrive upon that which man thinks of with disgust; but our reason sees in this circumstance no facts worthy of our exclamation. The animal seeking the provender its Creator formed its appetite to relish, is not necessarily filthy or unclean; but could dogs write books, probably the opinions of these beasts upon many of the made dishes and tit-bits of the fashionable circles, would be opposed to the ideas which delicate epicures entertain concerning such luxurious fare. The spaniel which, bloated with sweets, escapes from the drawing-room to amuse itself with a blackened bone picked from a [Pg 91]dung-hill, follows but the inclination of its kind; and while tearing with its teeth the dirt-begrimed morsels, it is, according to its nature, daintily employed. Could we read its thoughts, probably the perverse little pet, even while it is provoking its mistress's horror, is reflecting upon the nasty trash which the human stomach can endure, and upon the tempting relishes which mankind know not, like dogs, how to appreciate. An occasional bone and a little dirt are beneficial to the canine race, while food nicely minced and served on plates is calculated to do harm. Such keep fattens to excess, destroys activity, renders the bowels costive, and causes the teeth to be encrusted with tartar.
A bone is of great service to the animal, which cannot employ a tooth-brush; and the larger it be and the less meat upon it, the better it will prove for little high-fed favorites. A dog in strong health may digest an occasional meal of bones; but the pet has generally a weak and often a diseased stomach, which would be irritated by what would otherwise do it no harm. The animal, nevertheless, true to its instinct, has always an inclination to swallow such substances, provided its teeth can break off a piece of a size fitted for deglutition. Game and chicken-bones, which are readily crushed, should therefore be withheld, for not infrequently is choking caused by pieces sticking in the œsophagus; though more often is vomiting induced by irritation of the stomach, or serious impactment of the posterior intestine ensues upon the feebleness of the digestion.[Pg 92]
The bone, therefore, should be large, and on it there should be nothing which the knife can remove. It ought to be thrown upon the earth, and the animal should be allowed to gnaw it at leisure. During the act, a considerable quantity of earth and saliva will be swallowed, and little actual food be added to an already loaded stomach. In all points of view the animal is benefited. The soil is always slightly alkaline, and so is the saliva; any undue acidity is by both in some measure counteracted; but the earth is also of further service. Food too highly or purely nutritive will not support life; but to render it healthy, a certain quantity of indigestible or refuse matter is imperative. The latter portion acts mechanically as a stimulant to the intestines, and hence, gentlemen by choice consume bread in which a portion of the husk is mingled, finding it prevents the costiveness that the baker's "best" induces. Dogs are here very like men, but they require more of the mixture than the human being could bear. The animals, therefore, should not be fed off plates.
The better practice is to take the day's allowance and throw it upon the ground, letting the beast eat it with what addition it may please. Neither should the nature of the food itself be disregarded. Oatmeal or ship-biscuit ought always to be given, if alone the better, else rice upon which gravy has been poured. Meat, when allowed, should be lean, and the coarser the better. Paunch or tripe is excellent food for dogs, and for a continuance I have found nothing agree so well. Horse-flesh or any[Pg 93] such filth is never to be allowed; this kind of food being very apt to generate diseases of the skin. Dogs will thrive on liver, but it is too valuable an article of diet for these creatures to be regularly given. When only occasionally administered it has a well-marked laxative property, and on this account will often be of service in rendering needless the use of medicinal agents. In the raw state, if the animal will take it, its action is more powerful; but after it has been boiled it generally is sufficiently operative. The meat, whatever it may be, should, for animals not in work, be boiled, raw flesh being more stimulative than their comparatively idle pursuits demand. Such animals, in fact, may be said to lead sedentary lives, and their diet must be lowered to suit their habits. For the pointer, &c., during the season, raw flesh is actually to be preferred, nor should the quantity be limited. The exertion is great, and the utmost indulgence in this respect will seldom do harm; but my own experience teaches me that the sporting dog is often crippled by being under-fed. It cannot consume too much, neither can that much be too nourishing, especially if the country to be shot over is of a hilly nature. It is one of the prejudices of most men to believe that a feed of oats to the horse, or a meal of flesh to the dog, just before starting, gives strength for the labor which is to be endured. We cannot, however, make strength as beds are made, at any moment, but the invigoration of a living body must be the result of a slow and a long process. On the day of work it is of less consequence what[Pg 94] food is given than is the diet which has been allowed the many previous weeks.
Regularity in the hour of feeding should equally be observed; and if this matter be generally attended to, there will be no danger of its being forgotten, since dogs' stomachs are excellent time-keepers, and the brutes are not by any delicacy of feeling restrained from asking. The hour, after a little while, will always for the sake of peace be kept, and the animals will soon learn the rules to which they are subjected.
For home-kept dogs there is no possibility of stating the quantity of food that ought to be allowed. No two animals in this respect are alike. One eats much, and its fellow consumes but little; yet the small feeder in most cases thrives the best even where neither is stinted. The quantity, therefore, cannot be measured. The only rule to be observed is, that there be enough placed before the animal at a stated hour. Let him eat of this till the slackening of the jaws' movement and the raising of the head indicate that hunger has been for the present appeased. So soon as this is remarked the food ought to be withdrawn. On no account should the creature be allowed to gorge to repletion, or eat after its healthy craving has been satisfied. While the dog eats it should therefore be watched; and this custom works well, as the failure of the appetite often gives to the attendant the earliest indication of disease.
The dog that neglects its day's allowance should not be coaxed to feed, but ought to be left alone for some[Pg 95] minutes, or until its companions have finished their meal. It should then be examined, and if nothing can be detected, perhaps the abstinence of a day may restore it. Until the proper hour arrives on the following day, nothing ought to be given to the animal, nor should any inclination on its part for food be noticed.
Where eating is concerned, dogs have lively sympathies. The animal which at its own kennel has feasted to satiety, will wake from its digestive slumber to taste anything of which it sees its master partaking. These creatures are so peculiarly sensitive in this respect, that they will do violence to their feelings rather than be left out when eating is going forward. Dogs moreover are most pertinacious beggars, and they soon learn the cunning of the trade. On no account should they be permitted to frequent the kitchen. If properly reared, they will be rigidly honest, but, like the "audacious cats," they offer a ready excuse to dishonest kitchen-maids, who will sometimes do injury by subjecting the animal to undeserved chastisement.
Where the servants are trustworthy this danger will not arise; but good servants mostly have tender hearts, and dogs have a peculiar tact in appealing to female weaknesses. However strict may be the orders, and however sincere may be the disposition to observe them, bits will fall,—scraps will be thrown down,—dishes will be placed upon the ground, and sometimes affection will venture to offer just "the little piece," which no one could call feeding. It is astonishing how much will in this way be[Pg 96] picked up, for the dog that lies most before the kitchen fire is generally the fattest, laziest, and at feeding time the best behaved of his company. Consequently no dog should be allowed to enter the kitchen, for their arts in working upon mortal frailty can only be met by insisting on their absence. The dog that is well fed and not crammed, should not refuse bread when it is offered. If this be rejected, while sugar is eagerly snapped up, it will be pretty certain that the animal is either too much indulged, or that its health requires attention.
Some writers recommend pot-liquor for dogs. It is not advisable to use this. The water in which salt meat has been boiled ought never to be employed. Greens are not nutritious, but they often purge; and if the animal will eat them, they can sometimes be given when liver cannot be obtained. Potatoes will, with other substances, agree with animals not required for work, but the rice I have recommended will be found for general purposes the best, and not the most expensive food upon which the animal can be sustained. Persons having lap-dogs will moreover find the keep upon rice, properly seasoned, or soaked in gravy, less liable to render these creatures strong or tainted than the provender which is choicely selected from the joint provided for the family dinner. The warm meat too often presented to these creatures is apt to enfeeble their digestions; for their stomachs are soon deranged, and they never should be allowed to taste any kind of food which is not perfectly cold.
The food for diseased dogs should be prepared with[Pg 97] extreme care, and no disregard of cleanliness; in fact, it should in every respect be such as a human being could partake of, provided the ingredients were not repugnant to his taste. Sickness cannot be relieved without trouble, and in many cases an animal requires as much attention as a child. To gain success, neither time, labor, nor expense must be begrudged; but the attendant must be assiduous and the cook skilful. Nothing smoked or burnt, no refuse or tainted flesh, must on any account be made use of. The meat may be coarse, but it should be fresh and wholesome. Dirty saucepans or dishes ought not to be employed; and so very important are these circumstances, that the practitioner who engages in dog practice will often surprise his acquaintances by being seen at market, or busied over the fire. Beef tea is one of the articles which in extreme cases is of great service. Few servants, however, make it properly, and when a dog is concerned there are fewer still who will credit that any pains should be bestowed upon the decoction. I generally either prepare it myself or superintend the person who undertakes that office, and not unfrequently give serious offence by my officiousness; or, spite of studious attention, fail in procuring that which I desire. Still, as in the last extremity food is even of more importance than medicine, my anxiety cannot be conquered by such schooling, and I am therefore content to bear the sneers of those who cannot understand my motives.
To make beef-tea properly, take a pound and a half of coarse, lean beef: that cut from the neck or round is best.[Pg 98] The leg does not answer so well, however excellent it may be for soup. The rump steak is good for the purpose, but no better than other and cheaper parts; though I often use it when nothing else can be obtained so well suited for this beverage. Let the flesh be carefully separated from every portion of skin or fat, and chopped as fine as for sausage meat—the smaller the better—it cannot be too minutely minced. Without washing it, put the flesh into a clean saucepan, with a pint of water, and so place it upon the fire that it will be half an hour at least before it boils. When it boils, allow it to remain in that state for ten minutes, and then remove it, pouring off the liquor, which should be set aside to cool. When cold, any fat upon the surface should be removed, and, no salt or seasoning of any kind being added, the beef-tea is fit for use.
To the meat, which has been drained of moisture, the skin and fat may now be added and a pint and a half of water, which should be allowed to boil till it is reduced to a pint. This being set aside and afterwards cleared of fat, will be of some service if used instead of water when the next potion is required; and there is no limitation in the quantity which may be needed.
Besides beef-tea, wheaten flour, oatmeal, arrow-root, starch, biscuit powdered, and ground rice are also to be employed. These are to be mixed with water, or more often with beef-tea, and boiled; but for sick animals the compound should not be made too thick. The ordinary consistence of gruel will be about the proper substance,[Pg 99] and a little only should be administered every hour or half-hour, as the case may require. From half a pint to a quart, divided so as to allow of a portion being given at the stated periods, will be sufficient for a large or small animal, the quantity being proportioned to the size. When the creature is so far exhausted that it is no longer willing or able to lap, the nourishment should be administered by means of a tube passed down the throat or into the œsophagus; for if given with a spoon, as the breathing is always disturbed, the consequence may be fatal, from the fluid being drawn into the lungs. The food should always be made fresh every morning; and none left from the previous day ought on any account to be mixed with it, more especially if the weather be at all warm.
These directions may to some appear needlessly particular; but so rapid are the terminations of canine diseases, and so acute are they in their development, that while the tax upon the patience is not likely to be of long duration, the care demanded during their existence must be unremitting.
Exercise is next to food, and if of one dogs generally have too much, of the other few have enough. In towns, if dogs are kept, a chain and collar should always be at hand. The servants should be ordered to take the creatures out whenever they go upon their errands, and an occasional free journey with the master will be a treat which will be the more enjoyed because of the habit thus enforced.[Pg 100]
Washing dogs is not a custom deserving of half the consideration which is bestowed upon it. The operation is not so necessary as it is generally imagined. Soap and water make the hair look white; but the coat usually becomes soiled the quicker because of their employment.
The use of alkalies, soda, or potash, in the water, renders the immediate effects more conspicuous; but unfortunately these substances also make the after-consequences more vexatious. They take the sebaceous or unctuous secretion from the coat. The skin is deprived of its natural protector in this animal; the cuticle grows weak and dry. The hair is rendered rough; is prepared to catch the dirt; and not unfrequently the skin itself, by nature striving to counteract the effect of its deprivation, pours forth a secretion that aids in causing it to appear foul. Above all, the warmth, so repeatedly and often inhumanly applied to the entire surface of the body, debilitates the system of the creature, and generates in the long run certain disease, even if by the drying immediate disorder be not engendered. The warm-bath to the dog is peculiarly debilitating, and the heat which the hand of a cook would endure with a sense of comfort, will sometimes cause the dog to faint. Panting is a sign of sensible weakness in this animal, and few of these creatures are washed without exhibiting it. If washing is insisted upon, the water should never be warm, and in cold weather only should the chill be taken off. The soap ought to be of the mildest quality; but the yelk of an egg is much to be preferred, and in its effects is every[Pg 101] way more beneficial where the hair, either of man or beast must be cleansed. A small dog will require the yelk of one egg; and a Newfoundland the yelks of a dozen eggs. The yelks are to be separated from the whites and smeared well into the hair. A little water is then to be poured upon the back, and the hand is to be rubbed upon the coat till a lather covers the body, after which the hair may be cleared by copious ablutions. This process is much to be preferred, and the dog dislikes it far less than when soaps are employed. His eyes are not made to smart, or his skin to burn, and if he tastes the substance he does not therefore sicken. Moreover, when the business is ended, even if some portion of the egg should cling to his hair he will not on that account neglect his personal appearance. The coat will be found to look bright, and to remain clean for a longer period than after the adoption of the customary thoughtless process.
Washing, however, is not constantly required, if a dog be kept combed and brushed every morning, and does not reside in a very filthy locality. A little dirt after a walk is easily removed, if it be allowed to dry perfectly, and the hair is then rubbed and picked by the hand of its attendant, when the comb will complete the proceeding. A bath every morning does the generality of dogs good; but it should be cold, and the animal ought not to be punished by having its head submerged. It should be plunged up to the neck, the head being held above the surface. While in the water the coat should be well[Pg 102] rubbed with the hand, that every portion of the hair may become thoroughly soaked. This over, no attempt should be made to dry the dog, for that is not by any industry to be perfectly accomplished. Neither ought the dog to be wrapped up, placed before the fire, or suffered to lie about, which it is always by a sense of discomfort induced to do, if not made to move. The animal ought immediately to be started for a scamper, and never allowed to remain quiescent until its activity has driven every trace of moisture from its body. Not until this is thoroughly effected should the creature be brought in-doors, or be suffered to rest for a moment. If healthy it will require little exertion on its attendant's part to make it jump and run about; but some of these little animals have to carry a burthen of fat which no sense of uneasiness can provoke them to move under of their free wills. An active lad with a chain may, in these last cases, be of much use; but he should be told to exercise his charge in some spot open to the master's eye, else the boy may play while the animal shivers.
Some dogs show a great dislike to, strenuously fighting with, the collar and chain; others will exhibit the most piteous distress, by squatting upon their hocks, and whining, while they pant vehemently, and look imploringly up to the face of their leader. The first are probably not aware of the intention of the bonds to which they are subjected, and should not be harshly rebuked. The voice ought to assure them, and means be resorted to calculated to allay their fears. Gentleness and firmness[Pg 103] will in two or three days render such animals perfectly submissive for ever after. The last kind are rank impostors. No one not familiar with these animals would credit the arts which they can with such excellent effect and apparent genuineness practise to gain their ends. They have been used to be carried, and they prefer riding in the arms of a human being. Their insinuating tricks ought to be rewarded only by laughter, accompanied with an admonition.
Dogs are very intelligent. They understand much more than men choose to give them credit for. Their pride is enormous, and through this feeling they are easily moved. Laughter, when directed against himself, no dog can endure, and the slightest reprimand is always answered by an immediate change of aspect. Rather than have their dignity offended, dogs will quickly become honest, especially when deceit is experienced to be of no avail. People who are physiognomists may detect this sentiment impressed upon the countenance. Upon the next page is a portrait of a Mastiff. Mark the absolute Asiatic dignity, only outwardly slurred over by a heedlessness of behaviour. Does it not seem as though the creature, through very pride reposing upon strength, was above forms? Who could think of laughing at such gravity? Would it not be like ridiculing nature to insult one who has such outward claims to our respect?
Sporting dogs will always take the exercise that is beneficial, and for such the cold bath is much to be recommended. Only in skin diseases should the tepid bath be[Pg 104] resorted to. It is of much service when the skin is hot and inflamed, but after it, exercise ought not to be neglected. For healthy animals the hot or warm bath should never be employed; but the sea is frequently as beneficial to dogs as to their owners; only always bearing in mind that the head should be preserved dry.