The real purpose of a terrier

Hunting is a terrier’s real purpose. “Hunt until you drop.”  That’s Terrier Logic # 2Before we ‘own’ a terrier we read all about these cute, non-shedding dogs and how independent, persistent and plucky they are.  How endearing, we think.  So feisty.  We think we ‘get it’.  But I don’t think we really do. Then some of us struggle mightily against these personality traits.

I read it–but didn’t really get it–until I got involved in Earthdog work and saw what comes naturally to these breeds. Only after this did I truly understand my Bossy Border Terrier and her intensity. The hunt for small and not-so-small furries defines her, along with other terriers.

Dughall, the Cairn Terrier, parades his stuffed rat reward after succeeding at an Intro to Quarry Earthdog Test. (Photo courtesy of C. Mair.)

Terriers have hunted for us for centuries, protecting food stores from destruction by vermin and reducing disease by keeping rodent populations in check.  A local, Ontario mill owner I know still prefers a good working terrier to a cat to keep the mice down around his feeds and seeds. We really need to remember this working history of our terriers and find ways to channel their instincts. When we can’t do what we’re meant to do part of us becomes unstable and unhealthy.  Same, too, for our dogs.  When we stick them in a leisurely, quiet life and never let them follow their noses and hunting instincts, they become neurotic. Like rebels without a cause.
If you have a terrier in your life and haven’t heard about Earthdog trials, been to one as an observer or participated in one with your dog, you’re missing out on a controlled opportunity to let your terrier do his life’s work–without harm coming to the quarry Earthdog work (and practice) helps our dogs exercise their real purpose and helps us bond with them on a deeper level.  Check it out..

Lyme Disease is more tenacious than a Master Earthdog

Many terrier owners are doing Earthdog Trials with their dogs this time of year.  You could be doing hunt-ups in long grasses, searching for hidden rats among the brush then WAITING as your dogs go to ground.  That’s on top of all the standing around you`ll be doing at the test site.

Somewhere along the way, a lyme-infected tick could hitch a ride–on you or your dog. So be on the lookout for ticks.   Recent reports say that 10% of black-legged ticks carry the bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) that`s responsible for Lyme Disease.

Lyme is officially on the rise in Canada, yet disease incidence numbers are probably grossly under-estimated.  While most dogs don’t get Lyme when they`re bitten by a tick, you`re much more like to become infected.  Be vigilant. Not all bites have a classic bullseye rash.

The Lyme Disease bacteria is formidable.  It’s tougher, smarter and way more tenacious than any Earthdog you`ll ever meet. Learn more and stay informed if you`re going to be out working with your Earthdog. Visit

Recent News on Lyme:–ticks-that-can-carry-lyme-disease-agent-spreading