12 December 2003

Milnthorpe: Gyp's Life continued
Both at Sharrow Bay and as well at Kidside Gyp used to be able to run free, but he chose to spend most of his time in the vicinity of home often accompanying Dad during his duties. Now and then he would disappear overnight and then turn up next day, we had no idea where he had been. Occasionally a neighbour mentioned in passing, of Gyp on his "rounds". Sometimes quite a way from home, there were no complaints of him so we didn't worry too much.

When at Kidside during the breeding season it was a different matter, Gyp would disappear for days at a time and we would worry. Eventually days later he would again appear often looking sorry for himself and hungry. His smart black and tan coat would be dirty, matted and sometimes bloody and one time torn ears. We knew he had been fighting. He was well known for visiting the "ladies" in the district when in season and the surrounding farms, too. His biggest problem was the farm dogs, they were usually bigger and heavier than Gyp but their size did not deter him, which we learnt from stories that filtered back of his escapades. Lakeland Fox terriers were renowned for the fearless disposition. They were bred to tackle marauding foxes in their holes and kill if need be, never turning tail on their enemy.

Gyp would sometimes arrive home from his expeditions a little worse for wear, bloody and battered. His first port of call would be Mum. He would quietly wait whist she scolded him with words like "where have you been?" and "just look at the state of you" and such like phrases. Then she would get some hot water and sponge of the mud and the blood and examine Gyp's wounds. Next would come the iodine and Gyp would flinch but sit tight as Mum applied it to the wounds, then would come the antiseptic ointment. When Gyp was patched up then Mum would feed him, Gyp was ravenous after 2 or 3 days or more away from home on the battlefield, his appetite sated he would then settle down on the mat in front of the fire and go to sleep, dreaming I guess doggy dreams as he twitched and growled in his sleep.

As Gyp ran free around Kidside and sometimes farther afield through the hedgerows and undergrowth he tended to pick up ticks on his coat, nasty beasts. Usually these were around his head and neck were his coat was thinnest and the hair finer and easy for the ticks to reach skin level. The ticks would burrow into the skin and extract blood into an ugly white sac attached to the tic's body which turned a dark colour as the sac filled.

Dad used to spend time de-ticking Gyp when he saw him scratching, he would grasp the tick at the base of the sac with his thumbnail and first fingernail and pull the ticks off. By using this method the whole of the tick was removed. If the sac pulled away without the head the head would fester and cause a sore to form. John and I would sometimes de-tick Gyp but it was not one of my favourite jobs. Many animals picked up ticks from undergrowth and greenery.

Lakeland Terriers are happy dogs by nature and have all the attributes one could wish for in a dog. They are also fearless, in fact they were bred for their fearlessness, their job with the hunt was to go down the rocky holes on the Lakeland fells to flush out foxes when they went to "ground" during the hunt. If necessary they were required to kill the fox underground and a dog had to be fearless to face a big strong "dog" fox with his needle sharp teeth.

Todays show Lakeland terrier looks much different to the working Lakeland terrier of the hunt that I remember. Visually the show one looks a different dog, the coat is longer and curlier to allow clipping and trimming, I suppose. The colour seems sandier and the rich back and tan of the working dog seems to be absent. To this end I was relying on pictures on the Internet that invariably were show dogs only.

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