Saturday, November 15, 2008

An Agrarian Dog



Last night my wife an I drove 20 miles north to an Amish Dairy farm, and brought home a Rat Terrier puppy. My wife and I considered the matter carefully following the death of our beloved German Shepherd. We both like having a watchdog-not an attack dog; just a dog that lets us know that someone is in the driveway. A watchdog gives us time to see whether putting on an extra supper plate, or grabbing a shotgun is in order. My cowdog is too old and set in her routine to live indoors. We decided a smaller dog would be a nice change for our small house. We were looking for a Feist or rat terrier, which are really two strains of the same dog.

I believe the pup is the 23rd dog I have owned in my life. When I was a little agrarian kid, we always had at least a couple of rat terriers around, often with a touch of beagle blood. Unlike Jack Russell Terriers, the Rat Terriers always seem to be more calm and biddable. Yet they still have courage to spare. My childhood dogs would flush the pheasants that were plentiful then and push rabbits from the brush piles. Unlike a beagle,they would come home when I was ready to quit hunting for the day. We seldom had cats, but the dogs would chase mice and rats with glee. Nobody pulled in the driveway without their yapping, and they were clean house dogs. These dogs were a multi generational part of life here. The oldest picture I have of my father shows him at about age five with a litter of terrier pups. I have an older picture of my grandfather and my oldest uncle, probably about 1915, with a little feist type dog in the picture.

In reading the history of these little dogs, I learned that my family was not exceptional in keeping them. They were an integral part of traditional American small farms across the country. Their heyday lasted until the 1940's and 1950's when chemical rat poisons began to replace terriers on farms.

So what to name an agrarian dog? there seemed to be one obvious choice---Wendell.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so glad you and Granny got a dog! I hope Wendell gives you both years of joy.

Scott Watkins said...

Congrats on getting a rattie..I have 3 of them and can't believe how much I enjoy them. Best wishes to you, your wife and Wendell...the cowdog as well.

The Midland Agrarian said...

Thank you both! I changed the post to put link to an earlier post about our cowdog, whose name is Nipper.

Scott,
Did you get your three Rat Terriers at different times?

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new dog. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.

Danman said...

Cute Dog, Congrats!

Humble wife said...

Love the name for the puppy.

New here, but read the post about the apple pie(October post), and new I found someone like me! I even wrote a post about eating pie with milk- jut a few weeks ago!

I grew up in northwest Ohio on a farm...perhaps that is the connection? Or my family is of German ancestry? Well who knows!

Well thanks for making me feel *normal*!
Jennifer

The Midland Agrarian said...

Humblewife,
thank you for stopping by.I enjoyed browsing your farm's site and will look forward to reading more later.

Linda said...

Would you mind helping me out? I am in need of some clarifications.

While I am fairly new to the blog thing, it has been enjoyable to gather a great deal of information. There are some things that confuse me. What is an "agrarian"? Why do some call themselves "biblical agarians"? What constitutes a "homestead" and why is that different than a farm?

My husband and I live on about four acres between Kittanning and Worthington. I was so glad to find someone in our area that might help with my questions.

With the economy the way it is, we are trying to think through the best use of our acres.

Thanks for any answers you may be able to provide.

P.S. Your wife's site is amazing! What a wealth of information.

The Midland Agrarian said...

Hi Linda,
Thank you for the visit and kind words. I pass through your area about once a month in the course of my off farm job. I occasionally stop at at Schall's for the bread pudding with milk!

I thought your questions worthy of a post, so that is where I will answer them. It should be up soon.

My wife is even more amazing than her blog.

May God Bless and protect you and your loved ones through this time of troubles.