Sweet dare­devil dogs

Ir­ish ter­ri­ers are brave, loyal and fun – ideal com­pan­ions in war and for play­ing fetch!

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PETS -

IWAS talk­ing to Kogi at SPCA Pe­nang last week when she told me about Min­goo, a six-mon­thold ter­rier with a pas­sion for play­ing fetch. Min­goo was res­cued from the streets, so she doesn’t come with a pedi­gree cer­tifi­cate but she’s got the looks of an Ir­ish ter­rier.

If you’ve seen old pic­tures of the Bri­tish aris­toc­racy go­ing about their hunt­ing, shoot­ing and fish­ing, you’ll have seen Ir­ish ter­ri­ers in th­ese paint­ings, too.

Th­ese medium-sized dogs with their shaggy coats are ac­tive pets who love noth­ing more than go­ing for walks and hang­ing out with their hu­man fam­ily af­ter­wards.

In the past, they used to help gen­tle­men farm­ers get rid of pests like rats, as well as help them sup­ple­ment po­tato dishes (they orig­i­nated from Ire­land, don’t for­get!) with small game like rab­bit, hare and even the odd pheas­ant.

Th­ese dogs were also pretty good at keep­ing up with the Hunt. Thanks to their ver­sa­til­ity, they are fa­mously de­scribed as, “The poor man’s sen­tinel, the farmer’s friend and the gen­tle­man’s favourite”.

In World War I, Ir­ish ter­ri­ers were used as mes­sen­gers, dart­ing through the trenches and over ex­posed ground where they came un­der fire in or­der to con­nect peo­ple at the front.

They were fast, brave and very loyal, so there are plenty of sto­ries from that time, laud­ing them as “dare­devil dogs”. If you’re ever in Lon­don, you’ll see this dog on The An­i­mal War Me­mo­rial in Park Lane.

In fact, ter­ri­ers as a breed are known for their loy­alty and brav­ery. Ter­ri­ers awarded the PDSA Gold Medal – the high­est award for civil­ian an­i­mal brav­ery, in­clude: Beauty, a Wire-Haired Ter­rier, who on Jan 12, 1945, at the end of World War II, was de­scribed as, “or be­ing the pi­o­neer dog in lo­cat­ing buried air-raid vic­tims while serv­ing with a PDSA Res­cue Squad”; Ge­orge, a Jack Rus­sell Ter­rier who was awarded his medal posthu­mously in Fe­bru­ary 2009 af­ter be­ing killed while shield­ing a group of chil­dren from a pair of at­tack­ing Pit Bulls; and Oi, a Stafford­shire Bull Ter­rier who won her medal in July 2010 for sav­ing her own­ers’ lives by fight­ing off a gang of four ma­chete-wield­ing as­sailants.

So ter­ri­ers are ag­ile, brave and loyal, but they’re also ex­tremely so­cial and in­tel­li­gent. This is not the sort of dog you want to have about if your favourite oc­cu­pa­tion is hang­ing out in front of the tele­vi­sion: Ir­ish ter­ri­ers love to be out and about.

They aren’t ex­actly hy­per­ac­tive, but they need to play for at least an hour a day, and they like be­ing around their hu­mans as much as pos­si­ble.

This makes them ideal dogs for fam­i­lies with young kids, as the pet and the small ones can play for hours, end­ing up in a mu­tu­ally ex­hausted pile of limbs and paws by bed­time.

If you do get a ter­rier, one of the best games that they can play with the kids is fetch. Fetch is ridicu­lously sim­ple fun and most dogs will get it straight away, bound­ing off af­ter the thrown toy and bring­ing it back. It’s a great way to ex­er­cise a dog that’s also fun for ev­ery­one. And if you’re not big enough to run for miles, and your pet is, then fetch is ideal.

If you have a pet who doesn’t get the idea of fetch, you’ll need to in­sti­tute a bit of train­ing. Start by try­ing this:

Pick a toy your pet likes, like a squeaky bone, or in­vest in a spe­cially de­signed soft rub­ber toy like a Kong Flyer, Hyper­flite or Jawz Disc.

Throw the toy, and run with your pet to get it. When your dog

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picks it up, say “Good dog!”, pet it lav­ishly, gen­tly take the toy from your pet’s mouth, and do it again. Af­ter a few runs, you stay in one place while your pet col­lects the toy. Now call, “Come!” and hope­fully this is enough for your dog to get the idea of the game.

If your dog is not a nat­u­ral game player, then the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty To An­i­mals rec­om­mends this:

For the Re­luc­tant Re­turner: If your dog bounces off and won’t bring back the toy, use two toys. Throw one, and when your pet picks it up, call and re­veal the other toy.

Pre­tend you’re go­ing to throw it in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. Your pet will prob­a­bly drop the first toy and chase the sec­ond.

This is when you throw the

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sec­ond toy, then run to pick up the first. Re­peat, and af­ter a while, when your dog is tired, throw one toy, pick up the other but don’t show the toy in your hand. Just call your pet.

If you time it right, your pet should re­turn, while hold­ing the first toy.

This is when you say, “Drop”, while re­veal­ing the toy in your hand. Your pet should drop the toy that’s in his or her mouth, which is when you throw the toy in your hand. If you’re lucky, you now get to stand in one spot while your pet fetches and re­trieves.

For The Re­luc­tant Run­ner: play a short game of “tug” with the toy. Then throw the toy a short dis­tance away. If your pet stands there and looks, pre­tend that it’s great fun by pick­ing it up and wrig­gling it about. When your pet shows in­ter­est, let him or her sniff it and then throw it again.

When he or she picks it up, play another game of tug. Even­tu­ally, your pet will catch on to the idea that get­ting the toy means a tug game and he or she will bring it back to you. Throw the toy a bit fur­ther each time.

Have a merry Christ­mas and a happy New Year, and if you have a home for a pet, please visit your near­est shel­ter and adopt.

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Ellen Whyte is ruled by cats who refuse to play fetch. Tar­get and Guido have a face­book page at https://www. face­book.com/KatzTales

Ready to roll: min­goo was res­cued from the streets, so she does not come with a pedi­gree cer­tifi­cate, but she’s got the looks of an Ir­ish ter­rier. She loves play­ing fetch.

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