Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dogography by Francis Butler 1856

The life and adventures of the celebrated dog Tiger, comprising a variety of amusing and instructive examples, illustrative of the happy effects of the appropriate training and education of dogs, by Francis Butler.

This is a quirky little book, a biography of a dog named Tiger and written from Tiger's point of view. Tiger's father is described as a "40 lb white as snow, pure bred bull-dog", an undefeated champion pit fighter. His mother is described as a "perfect specimen of a Scotch terrier". Tiger is described as looking like his father. In the 100 pages of Tiger's life, he kills, dogs, cats, snakes, monkeys, muskrats, hogs, beavers, rats and wolves. Tiger even attempted to drown a poodle that he was competing with. It is unclear if this story is based on a real dog or if Tiger was owned by Butler.

Here are a few excerpts from the book.


These attacks had engendered in me a certain mistrust of the whole fraternity, so that with all strangers I assumed a dignified, distant, self-confident demeanor, which seldom failed to impose respect even from the most refractory. But a word from my master was enough: cat, dog, badger, bull, or bear, all were one to me. At his command I seized my antagonist, regardless of danger, thoughtless of my own safety, and bent on destruction. He, and he alone, could restrain my fury, and even then did I reluctantly obey his commends, such was the violence of my excited temper. I was born so, and to conquer it has been the main study of my life, though I succeeded only to a certain extent; but without education I might have lived a perfect hyena, lacerating friend and foe, seeking for blood, a scourge to the flock and the pest of society.


The noble Nero was more akin to my father's blood, though, to the best of my knowledge, not related to either of us. To a stranger his outward appearance was repulsive to the extreme, though in form and symmetrical proportions none had ever excelled him. His mother was born in Dublin, his father in Warwick, England, while he first saw the light within the immediate sound of the New Jersey bull-frogs, catydids, tree-toads, and musketos. His parents were both of as pure bull-stock as the Old Country could furnish, of well-tried pluck and immeasurable daring. Alas! I am sorry to avow it, these were the only qualities of which they could boast, or rather of which they had no reason to be proud. These were the unimproved gifts of nature, which, if duly restrained and well directed, might have rendered them matchless guardians and faithful companions. None dared to boast of their friendship, while all dreaded them as enemies. Uncertain in their affections, undiscriminating in their antipathies, their names were honored alone by dog fighters and bullies. His father was a smooth coated brindle bull-dog, with the most horrid looking phiz that was ever exhibited to the public: large staring eyes, high forehead, short nose, and projecting under jaw, displaying in full his weapons of assault and defence, accompanied by a daring grin, which debarred all visitors from courting his acquaintance. Of his valor he bore undoubted marks. Two of his ribs were stove in by a bull, one of his legs was broken by a bear, while he indented scalp bore evident traces of hard fought battles, in one which his right ear was gnawed off, close to the skull. Certainly there was nothing prepossessing in his appearance, except his dread naught, dare devil expression; and as he was thoroughly tutored in the sublime art of seizing, lacerating and destroying, his life was devoted to the unlimited exercise of his ungovernable passions. His mother was of a similar class: about his equal in size and, and displaying equal purity of blood. She was the property of an Irishman, who prided himself in her ferocity even more than in his own. He had every reason to glory in it, as she was as ferocious as a hyena; so much so, that the near-dwellers, who greatly feared lest she might break loose and slake her fury on some innocent object, decided one day, during the absence of her master, on ridding themselves of her dreaded attacks. Thus terminated the career of the mother of one of the best of quadrupeds that ever was trained by dog or man.

Francis Butler (1810-1874), author, veterinarian, and possibly the first "dog whisperer"