6 August 1999

FOND TALES

OF CRACKING

JACK RUSSELLS

We asked to hear about

your Jack Russells and it

is clear from the deluge

of letters that this breed

is certainly a favourite

with readers. Loved for

their cleverness and

character, Jack Russells

are certainly top dog on

many a farm and if the

dogs seem to have their

masters trained rather

than vice-versa then

no one is complaining

You recently invited more letters to endorse a Jack Russells intelligence.

My dog, March (above), is a Jack Russell crossed with "a dog from the village". He is certainly a dog with a sense of humour and likes to get his own back.

Being a Jack Russell he loves to go off searching through the undergrowth with my daughters Cavalier King Charles dog, Magic. If I can get away with it I hide from them and smile as the panic sets in. The looks I get when found seem to say it all.

On one occasion, March turned the tables by leaving a squeaky toy on the path ahead of me. He was nowhere to be seen. I walked right up to the toy, started to bend down to pick it up, when March pounced on it from out of the ferns! My reaction was amazement of the intelligence it showed (and mirth of course).

For me, March is a dog in a million and very special.

Anna Roberts

31 Scott Terrace,

Bracknell, Berks.

When we first got our Jack Russell puppy, Jack, just a few weeks old, our children put a hot-water bottle in his bed at night as it was winter.

What a surprise we had months later when, coming in late one night, we found Jack curled up in his bed with not one but two furry covered hotwater bottles!

Hed managed to open the cupboard door and trail them into his bed. How pleased he was looking but unfortunately he couldnt fill them.

Eight years later, Jack sits beside the cats breakfast every morning – growling if they try to come near it, until my husband starts the tractor. Away Jack runs for his day-work on the farm leaving the cats in peace.

Whoever said "mans best friend is his dog" was perfectly right.

Mrs Rosemary Kernaghan

21 Kilkinamurry Road, Ballyward, Castlewellan,

Co Down.

I have two bitches at the moment, a mother and daughter. The daughter Kirsty was my late husbands constant companion, and went almost everywhere with him.

He was a great vintage ploughing enthusiast, and Kirsty went to these matches with him, following behind the plough in the furrows until his plot was all ploughed and finished.

Then for her as well as myself came the dreadful Saturday when he went off to the British Ploughing Match at Swinefleet, Goole, where he collapsed. She was in his Range Rover, and some of his last words were "dont leave my dog".

Saturdays now are gloomy days when quite often Kirsty sits alone and aloof. The worst was only recently when someone came to visit me in a Range Rover, the dogs were asleep when they heard the vehicle come into the yard. They both jumped up and dashed to the door, tails wagging, only to be disappointed to find that the occupant of the Range Rover, was not my husband or their master, only someone else visiting. Heads dropped, tails became motionless. So I do believe they never forget.

But we still have some happy pursuits, one of which is mousing in the outbuildings. This is a battle to see who can snuff out and catch the most mice.

They have helped me to get over some very long days and sad times, and I swear they know when I am at my lowest ebb, as then its which one can get nearest to me and be of comfort.

Ros Redman

Norton-Le-Clay, North Yorkshire.

Just before seven oclock every morning, Ben, our Jack Russell takes up his position at the window to make sure Ian goes down to the milking on the next farm. He sits at the window a little bit longer to check on the paper van and then its head down for 40 winks until it is time to watch for the school buses.

We live on a country road which is used daily by commuter traffic, and he sits on the back of the armchair checking the vehicles as they go into Carlisle around eight in the morning and back every evening around five. Sundays are a different story and he never looks out at all. My husband and I cannot influence this practice as we are dairy farmer and milk cows every day of the week so our routine never alters.

The road, recently designated part of the Reivers Route for bicycles is regularly travelled by cyclists of all shapes and sizes wearing the most colourful attire. Ben barks incessantly from the minute they appear until they are out of sight. Yet one fellow who cycles to work every day, despite wearing the same colourful clothing, is never subjected to the deafening barks the others have to endure.

Ben is the third Jack Russell we have had and every one has had a different temperament. This one likes his own way and at 9oclock every night demands a walk. There are no chiming clocks to set the time but failure to comply with this demand results in barking and prodding until we submit.

"Will that dog bite?" is a question often asked by reps. I wouldnt like to trust him but if we are out on one of our 9pm walks and there is a rustle in the grass, guess who is the first one home.

Mrs S E Forrester

Howberry, Blackford, Carlisle.

I have had five Jack Russells in the last 25 years. They are a joy to have as they are intelligent and keep you active in body and mind. My present one is five years old and called Sam.

Nearly every morning he barks for a cup of tea, and if we have a whisky or beer he likes a little in a dish or else he will help himself from your glass if it is left in a handy place.

Sam is very good at opening bags of crisps, he will carry it to a suitable place and hold it down with one paw, tear it open and eat the crisps.

When I wash up and let the plug out he runs to the bottom of the garden and stands over the lid of the tank, listening for the water to come and when it does we will know as he barks and jumps up and down.

Sam understands the words "daddys home" and will jump onto the chair back looking out of the window when I say this, barking and wagging his long tail with excitement. So I think I have a very, very intelligent Jack Russell.

Mrs J Dearden

Staple Oat, Whams Lane, Bay Horse, Lancaster.

Your article on Jack Russells couldnt have come at a better time as our football-mad Russell is still celebrating Manchester Uniteds treble! She loves football. Her name is Popcorn; she is a very good footballer. She has developed her skills with a tennis ball, football or anything as large as a basketball.

If you throw or kick a ball, shell guide it with her head and bounce it up against a wall. Shell go around for ages with a ball in her mouth and eventually drop it at someones feet. They can take a hint and throw it, Popcorn will run off to retrieve the ball. When she does get the ball, to stop it shell put her foot on it, like a real footballer. When you throw the ball shell always stand behind you to make sure she doesnt get hurt.

So, it just goes to show, David Beckham isnt the only good footballer in England.

Flo James

Trehane Farm, Tevalga, Boscastle, Cornwall.

I too have very intelligent Jack Russells, Snoopy and Lucy. They bark if the doorbell rings, or if someone comes in, until they sit down. When someone is going, the pair bark until the person is out of the house.

One week in four I mind our grandchild, Sarah, who is nearly two. Ive only to say "no barking, your babys in bed", and there is silence, even when the bell rings. Come Friday when she gets all her things together for home, the barking starts as usual until shes back with me again.

Mrs O Lee

16 Fernagreevagh Road, Loughgall, Co Armagh.

I have two Jack Russell bitches, a six-year-old rough-coated one called Jill and a five-year-old smooth-coated one called Jess and they show their intelligence in different ways.

My mums hairdresser comes to the house every week and they both start yapping at intervals before she arrives and once she does arrive the excitement is intense. If we ask the hairdresser what time she left home this is invariably the time that they started yapping. Even if the hairdresser changes the day they change their day for yapping!

Jill can also tell the time where meal times are concerned. At 9.30pm on the dot she will get up from whatever chair she is lying on and stand or lie in front of you or give you a shove at the back of your knees to tell you that it is her supper time. If you take no notice of her she will whine until you do. Even when the clocks change she is there at 9.30pm prompt to tell you it is supper time.

Judith Harris,

14 Aled Drive, Rhos on Sea, Colwyn Bay, North Wales.

Our Jack Russell, Oxonham Christmas Cracker (he arrived just before Christmas) is now 13 and has given us much joy. He came to us because Simon, my elder son, found him being badly treated and unwanted.

Sunday is the only day he insists that Simon spends time with him in the garden, the day Simon does not go to work.

When my husband was alive we had to refer to our daughter Clare by her second name as Cracker became so excited at the thought of Clare visiting.

Last week, our second son, Peter, could not get Cracker off the tractor when it was supper time so I am afraid he lied and told Cracker that Clare had arrived. He leapt off in great excitement but as the "supper" was very tasty, his disappointment did not last for very long.

Rose M Hooper

Oxonham Farm, Bovey Tracey, Devon.

Scooter, (above & left)

from Church Farm, Welsh St Donats, Glam, is an avid

watcher of TV and

Animal Hospital is a

particular favourite.