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Dog Day by Jonathan F. Kelley


I used to like dogs—a puppy love that I got bravely over, since once upon a time, when a Dutch bottier, in the city of Charleston, S. C., put an end to my poor Sue,—the prettiest and most devoted female bull terrier specimen of the canine race you ever did see, I guess. My Sue got into the wrong pew, one morning; the crout-eating cordwainer and she had a dispute—he, the bullet-headed ball of wax, ups with his revolver, and—I was dogless! I don't think dogs a very profitable investment, and every man weak enough to keep a dog in a city, ought to pay for the luxury handsomely—to the city authorities. Some people have a great weakness for dogs. Some fancy gentlemen seem to think it the very apex of highcockalorumdom to have the skeleton of a greyhound and highly polished collar—following them through crowded thorough-fares. Some young ladies, especially those of doubtful ages, delight in caressing lumps of white, cotton-looking dumpy dogs and toting them around, to the disgust of the lookers-on—with all the fondness and blind infatuation of a mamma with her first born, bran new baby. Wherever you see any quantity of white and black loafers—Philadelphia, for instance, you'll see rafts of ugly and wretched looking curs. Boz says poverty and oysters have a great affinity; in this country, for oysters read dogs. Who has not, that ever travelled over this remarkable country, had occasion to be down on dogs? Who that has ever lain awake, for hours at a stretch, listening to a blasted cur, not worth to any body the powder that would blow him up—but has felt a desire to advocate the dog-law, so judiciously practised in all well-regulated cities? Who that ever had a sneaking villanous cur slip up behind and nip out a patch of your trowsers, boot top and calf—the size of an oyster, but has felt for the pistol, knife or club, and sworn eternal enmity to the whole canine race? Who that ever had a big dog jump upon your Russia-ducks and patent leathers—just as he had come out of a mud-puddle, but has nearly forfeited his title to Christianity, by cursing aloud in his grief—like a trooper? Well, I have, for one of a thousand.

The fact of the business is, with precious few exceptions, dogs are a nuisance, whatever Col. Bill Porter of the “Spirit,” and his thousand and one dog-fancying and inquiring friends, may think to the contrary; and the man that will invest fifty real dollars in a dog-skin, has got a tender place in his head, not healed up as it ought to be.

While “putting up,” t'other day, at the Irving House, New York, I heard a good dog story that will bear repeating, I think. A sporting gent from the country, stopping at the Irving, wanted a dog, a good dog, not particular whether it was a spaniel, hound, pointer, English terrier or Butcher's bull. So a friend advised him to put an advertisement in the Sun and Spirit of the Times, which he did, requesting the “fancy” to bring along the right sort of dog to the Irving House, room number —.

The advertisement appeared simultaneously in the two papers on Saturday. There were but few calls that day; but on Monday, the “Spirit” having been freely imbibed by its numerous readers over Sunday, the dog men were awake, and then began the scene. The occupant of room number —had scarcely got up, before a servant appeared with a man and a dog.

“Believe, sir, you advertised for a dog?” quoth he with the animal.

“Yes,” was the response of the country fancy man, who, by the way, it must be premised, was rather green as to the quality and prices of fancy dogs.

“What kind of a dog do you call that?” he added.

“A greyhound, full blooded, sir.”

“Full blooded?” says the country sportsman. “Well, he don't look as though he had much blood in him. He'd look better, wouldn't he, mister, if he was full bellied—looks as hollow as a flute!”

This remark, for a moment, rather staggered the dog man, who first looked at his dog and then at the critic. Choking down his dander, or disgust, says he:

“That's the best greyhound you ever saw, sir.”

“Well, what do you ask for him?”

“Seventy-five dollars.”

“What? Seventy-five dollars for that dog frame?”

“I guess you're a fool any way,” says the dog man: “you don't know a hound from a tan yard cur, you jackass! Phe-e-wt! come along, Jerry!” and the man and dog disappeared.

The man with the hollow dog had not stepped out two minutes, before the servant appeared with two more dog merchants; both had their specimens along, and were invited to “step in.”

“Ah! that's a dog!” ejaculated the country sportsman, the moment his eyes lit upon the massive proportions of a thundering edition of Mt. St. Bernard.

“That is a dog, sir,” was the emphatic response of the dog merchant.

“How much do you ask for that dog?” quoth the sportsman.

“Well,” says the trader, patting his dog, “I thought of getting about fifty-five dollars for him, but I—”

“Stop,” interrupted the country sportsman, “that's enough—he won't suit, no how; I can't go them figures on dogs.” The man and dog left growling, and the next man and dog were brought up.

“Why, that's a queer dog, mister, ain't it? 'Tain't got no hair on it; why, where in blazes did you raise such a dog as that; been scalded, hain't it?” says the rural sportsman, examining the critter.

“Scalded?” echoed the dog man, looking no ways amiable at the speaker, “why didn't you never see a Chinese terrier, afore?”

“No, and if that's one, I don't care about seeing another. Why, he looks like a singed possum?”

“Well, you're a pooty looking country jake, you are, to advertise for a dog, and don't know Chiney terrier from a singed possum?”

Another rap at the door announced more dogs, and as the man opened it to get out with his singed possum, a genus who evidently “killed for Keyser,” rushed in with a pair of the ugliest-looking—savage—snub-nosed, slaughter-house pups, “the fancy” might ever hope to look upon! As these meat-axish canines made a rush at the very boot tops of the country sportsman, he “shied off,” pretty perceptibly.

“Are you de man advertised for de dogs, sa-a-ay? You needn't be afraid o' dem; come a'here, lay da-own, Balty—day's de dogs, mister, vot you read of!”

“Ain't they rather fierce?” asked the rural sportsman, eyeing the ugly brutes.

“Fierce? Better believe dey are—show 'em a f-f-ight, if you want to see 'em go in for de chances! You want to see der teeth?”

“No, I guess not,” timidly responded the sportsman; “they are not exactly what I want,” he continued.

“What,” says Jakey, “don't want 'em? Why, look a'here, you don't go for to say dat you 'spect I'm agoin' for to fetch d-dogs clean down here, for nuthin', do you, sa-a-ay? Cos if you do, I'll jis drop off my duds and lam ye out o' yer boots!”

Jakey was just beginning to square, when his belligerent propositions were suddenly nipped in the bud, by the servant opening the door and ushering in more dogs; and no sooner did Jakey's pups see the new-comers, than they went in; a fight ensued—both of Jakey's pups lighting down on an able-bodied, big-bone sorrel dog, who appeared perfectly happy in the transaction, and having a tremendous jaw of his own, made the bones of the pups crack with the high pressure he gave them. Of course a dog fight is the cue for a man fight, and in the wag of a dead lamb's tail, Jakey and the proprietor of the sorrel dog had a dispute. Jakey was attitudinizing a la “the fancy,” when the sorrel dog man—who, like his dog, was got up on a liberal scale of strength and proportions—walked right into Jakey's calculations, and whirled him in double flip-flaps on to the wash-stand of the rural sportsman's room! Our sporting friend viewed the various combatants more in bodily fear than otherwise, and was making a break for the door, to clear himself, when, to his horror and amazement, he found the entry beset by sundry men and boys, and any quantity of dogs—dogs of every hue, size, and description. At that moment the chawed-up pups of Jakey, and their equally used-up master, came a rushing down stairs—another fight ensued on the stairs between Jakey's dogs and some others, and then a stampede of dogs—mixing up of dogs—tangling of ropes and straps—cursing and hurraing, and such a time generally, as is far better imagined than described. The boarders hearing such a wild outcry—to say nothing of the yelps of dogs, came out of their various rooms, and retired as quickly, to escape the stray and confused dogs, that now were ki-yi-ing, yelping, and pitching all over the house! By judicious marshalling of the servants—broom-sticks, rolling-pins and canes, the dogs and their various proprietors were ejected, and order once more restored; the country sportsman seized his valise, paid his bills and “vamosed the ranche,” and ever after it was incorporated in the rules of the Irving, that gentlemen are strictly prohibited from dealing in dogs while “putting up” in that house.


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