John Guille Millais’s retriever named Jet

jet

Jet.

A few months ago, I wrote about how Sir Everett Millais created the modern basset hound when the inbred strains of Norman basset that were being bred in England were crossed with a bloodhound.

Sir Everett Millais was a dog show person. He was obsessed with developing the basset hound as we know it today, and as a judge, he was adamant about the newly developing English strains of dachshund take more after the hound component of their heritage than the “terrier” component.

Everett was the son of Sir John Everett Millais, a noted painter from a prominent Jersey family, and most “dog people” generally know only about his eldest son. The story of the cross between the Norman basset and the bloodhound well-documented breed lore, and much of our understanding of the dachshund in English-speaking countries comes from his work in founding that breed in England.

But of this particular Millais family, there was another son who had an interest in dogs. The youngest son of Sir John Everett Millais was John Guille Millais, an author, a painter, and naturalist of some note. I once wrote about his account of sheep-killing “Labrador dogs” in Newfoundland.

I paid almost no attention this author, other than I noted he was the younger brother of Sir Everett.  I searched around for more information about John Guille, but I got bored. I made a mental note of his name and then largely forgot about him.

A few years ago I came across a book written by John Guille.  It was called The Wildfowler in Scotland, which was published in 1901.  The book is ostensibly a how-to manual on shooting water and seabirds in Scotland, but it also includes accounts of his favorite retriever. Her name was Jet, and she was nothing like the celebrated show dogs of his brother:

“In my early days of shore shooting I was fortunate enough to procure a dog which eventually turned out to be (so far as my experience goes) the very best that ever stood on four legs. ‘Jet,’ for that was her name, was but a pup of ten months—a smooth-coated retriever of a most gentle and affectionate disposition, and quite unbroken—when I bought her of an innkeeper in Perth. She was the keenest and best nosed dog I have ever seen—too keen, as I found at first, and constantly running-in; but eventually she settled down and became almost human in her intelligence.

Every man becomes sentimental about something, and if I say too much here about dear old ‘Jet,’ who was my constant companion for sixteen years, the reader must forgive me. Many are the tales I could tell of her prowess; but I will confine myself to a few instances of her indomitable perseverance and pluck as a swimmer. One trick I mention as interesting, for she acquired it through her own cunning. Every shooter knows that while directing his eyes to the front or flank, as he naturally does while walking along the coast, birds often come up from behind, and before he can observe them, sheer off out of shot.  ‘Jet,’ however, was quite up to this.  As she trotted along behind me, she constantly glanced back over her shoulder, and if she saw anything coming, she would at once run in front of me, gazing alternatively at myself and the fowl in an inquiring manner,  thereby giving the chance of obtaining something desirable. There was no sea, however thunderous–even the great winter breakers of the North Atlantic– that she would not face, if I asked her to fetch some fallen treasure.

When the seas were unusually heavy, she betrayed a most remarkable instinct in preserving herself from being dashed from the rocks.  Instead of plunging into the mass of water, as a breaker surged towards her, she would allow herself to be carried out on the wash of the receding rush in time to meet the next huge wave and top it just as about to fall with a force that would have knocked her senseless had it broken upon her. More than once in a heavy sea she was not quick enough in this exploit, and paid smartly for her daring.  An instance occurred one day in the winter when I was lying among rocks near the Black Craig, Orkney Isles,  during one of those big westerly gales when Arctic gulls and Eiders come along the shore.  I had been watching them for some days previously, and whilst this gale was it height, a male eider came by, at which I fired.  The bird was hard hit, and made it out to sea, but had not gone 50 yards when it fell dead among the breakers.  As the sea was wild in the extreme, and I knew the bird would soon be blown ashore, I never thought of sending my dog after it; but ‘Jet’ who was pottering about in the rocks at a short distance, unfortunately had her eye also on the eider, and seeing it fall, at once made for it, in spite of all my efforts to stop her, all my shouting drowned by the roar of the ocean.  I could only stand and admire her pluck as she fought through the first two breakers. Now those who have lived much by the sea have noticed that those heavy breakers always travel over the face of the ocean in threes.  The third did for ‘Jet’ as she was trying to raise herself and look about for the bird. It completely broke over her, and I felt a chill go to my heart as, the next moment, I saw her body floating helplessly admidst the rush of seething waters.” (pg 45-47).

Jet eventually washed up on the shore, alive but severely draggled. Millais carried her home two miles, and although modern retriever people would have her much more steady to shot, this tale is a story of her pluck and drive.

In the Tay Estuary,  Millais once shot a brent goose (“brant” goose for North Americans), but left the bird only slightly pinioned. Jet took off after the bird in the water, but the bird was a much faster swimmer than the dog.  The dog pursued the goose a great distance from the shore, and Millais estimated that he ran three miles trying to call her back in:

“I began to lose all hope of ever seeing my dear doggie again. However, by the merest chance, there happened that afternoon to be an old fellow collecting bait in a spot where never before or since have I seen a man so employed. We at once asked his help, but in vain. ‘Na, na,’ he said, ‘A ken fine yon spring tide; a few meenutes to get there and a’ day to get back.’ Bribery and persuasion having alike failed, I told the old chap that as I had no intention of seeing my dog drowned I should take his boat whether he liked it or not. That he did not like it was clear from his reply; but a glance at my beaming friend convinced him that resistance would be useless, so he sullenly assisted us to launch his coble.

It took about ten minutes to run out to ‘Jet’ and her quarry, and when the latter was promptly dispatched the staunch dog fetched it to the boat, obviously proud of her accomplishment. Poor old girl, she little knew how near death she had been! Without the help that only by good luck we were able to render, she would have gone on another mile or two; then, feeling tired, would have tried in vain to make headway back’ to the shore. It took us about four and a half hours to make the coast again in that angry sea.

At all sorts of shooting, whether grouse driving, covert shooting, or wildfowling, ‘Jet’ was equally reliable; and having constant practice throughout the shooting season, she became as good a retriever as the most exacting sportsman could desire. At flight shooting she was simply perfection, and seemed, like her master, to take special delight in sitting at twilight waiting for the black forms and whistling pinions of the approaching duck. On ‘coarse’ nights, when duck flying by are seen almost as soon as they are heard, a dog is seldom quicker than a man in catching sight of them; but on still, fine nights, when the moon rises early, and the birds can be heard approaching from a distance, a good dog will always see them before the shooter, and will indicate by his motions the precise direction from which they are coming. ‘Jet’ was very good at this, almost invariably rising from her sitting posture, stiffening herself in pointer fashion, and whining if she thought I was not paying sufficient attention to her suggestions. Frequently, too, in an evening, when the wind is not too strong, many trips of birds will come down wind, from behind the shooter, and on these occasions ‘Jet’s’ sharp ears have often helped me to a shot that I should otherwise have lost from lack of time to change my position.

And now good-bye, old ‘Jet,’ fondest and faithfullest of companions! Stone deaf, and stiff with rheumatism, she quietly lay down and died, in 1897, and I can hardly hope to ever see her like again (pg. 49-50).

Jet was a poorly trained animal by our standards today, but she had lots of drive and intelligence that could have been crafted into a fine working animal.  Her longevity is something that many retriever people would like to see again. In no breed of retriever do dogs routinely reach those great ages now.

Jet was not purebred by any stretch. She was a “collie-and-smooth-coated-retriever mongrel.” From her photo in Wildfowler, she looked very much like a small flat-coated retriever, so the “smooth coat” in her breed description like refers to her being a cross between some form of collie and what became the flat-coated retriever. She had definite feathering, and if she had been a cross with a collie and the dogs that became the Labrador retriever, she would have been without feathering. The flash of white on her muzzle might point to her collie ancestry, but she would have been very typical of the retrievers that Millais and other sporting young men at the time would have had.

John Guille Millais recommended crosses between “the curly and the waving retrievers. As a general rule a curly coat denotes strength, intelligence, and a relish for the hard and coarse work of the water; whilst the wavy-coated dogs are more amenable to discipline, and gifted. with a softness of mouth and sweetness of disposition not to be found in any other of the canine species” (pg. 44).

John Guille was ultimately going against his brother’s aesthetic. His favorite dogs are retrievers bred for work:

“In selecting a pup for wildfowling work the shooter cannot be too careful in his inquiries as to the cleverness, mouth, taste for the water, and other characteristics of the mother. Where possible, he should ascertain this for himself, as the mental capacity and proclivities of the mother are generally transmitted to the pups. I think am correct in saying that a dog gets from her most of his abilities—good, bad, or indifferent; while his external form is due rather to his father. Good bench qualities will, of course, add to his value, as affording more pleasure to the eye, but otherwise, they are of no importance (pg 44).

John Guille Millais would eventually become a major force in conservation.  He was a co-founder of what became Fauna & Flora International, and his travels in North America, Europe, and Africa brought him into contact with many wild things. He wrote of his experiences in those regions, but he also wrote tomes of natural history, including books on magnolias and rhododendrons.  He wrote about deer species and deer hunting, and he often returned to the subject of wing-shooting and the natural history of game birds and waterfowl.

Like so many young men of his class, he came to natural history with the gun in his hand and a retriever at his heels. It was around the same time that Jet came into his life that John Guille and his father met the ornithologist John Gould.  That meeting laid the eggs of a passion that would drive the young man out onto the windswept coasts with his little black retriever. (It also became the inspiration for Sir John Everett Millais’s painting The Ruling Passion.)

John Guille Millais, at least when it came to dogs, was a bit of rebel compared to his brother. Everett Millais was a doyen among the dog show set. He was more interested in producing dogs that could be judged and discussed in lavish sitting rooms. John Guille was more interested in the wilder working dogs, the ones with rugged coats and lots of pluck and courage.

I am so glad that John Guille Millais was able to have this connection with Jet. She was a wonderful creature, the very sort of dog that burns your psyche deeply, the kind that visits you in dreams and leaves the memories waxing rheumy.

 

 


Natural History

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Friday Funny: In Honor of California

From the excellent Bored Panda site. To those of you partaking of weed now that it’s legal in California: you might want to keep it out of reach of your pets! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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K-9 Loki

From the Facebook page of the K-9 Defender Fund: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”..Mark Twain Meet K9 Loki of the Howe, Texas Police Department, where Sgt. Keith Milks and K9 Loki work hard in their community to keep drugs off the […]


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Snow Day

Anyone else planning on staying in their jammies all day, watching the snow come down? Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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One antler left

Rutting has been tough on the bucks. Cold winter temperatures are pretty tough too.

The antlers are coming off. This fellow has already shed one.

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He’s survived the long deer season well. He’s got a nice big body, and next year, he will be quite nice.

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Natural History

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Asthma Treatments for Dogs

Pet asthma is a medical condition that’s easy to diagnose in dogs and there are several different asthma treatments for dogs that can control the symptoms of this disease.

Asthma in dogs is defined as the sudden narrowing of a dog’s airways that causes breathing difficulties. Asthma can be triggered when a pet inhales something it’s allergic to. When this happens, …
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Joe. Maisie. And The Cheese.

When dogs are on the kitchen counter

This is a little story about how dogs learn, and especially how we can communicate to them certain behaviors, which displease us. Most importantly, it’s a story about how/when/if to reprimand a dog for having engaged in one of those behaviors.

This story is especially useful for new dog owners, or those whose ideas about dog training hark back to the days when people mistakenly believed that smacking a dog with a rolled up newspaper when he had soiled in the house would “teach” him not to do that again (when what it actually taught him was to avoid people coming at him with a rolled up newspaper, hours after he made a piddle in the kitchen!)

There’s a new man in my life, Joe. Which is great news for me, and also for my girls, Maisie and Wanda Weimaraner, who have taken to him like ducklings, imprinting. They follow him everywhere and gaze adoringly at him. He touches them lovingly and talks to them while looking them earnestly in the eyes (just as Weims seems to like) and has won their hearts. Maisie, in particular, brings him an ever-changing array of mangled toys to play tug with her (which he obliges) and it’s remarkable that Joe has actually never been around dogs before – he’s had cats, He’s certainly never lived around the clock with ever-present canines. Yet now he finds himself in a house where two extremely large and intrusive female Weimaraners are never more than an arm’s length away, although they do have lovely manners: they move out of our space when asked and curl up by the wood stoves and behave like perfectly behaved ladies.

Until I went out to play tennis one day. Joe was left at home and took out a piece of cheese which he left on the big kitchen island while going into the living room to put wood in one of the aforementioned stoves. Only to return and find no trace of his cheese.

He proudly told me that he’d given Maisie a firm talking-to about the disappearance of the cheese (since she’s the only one who ever jumps up on the counter) and told her in no uncertain terms what a naughty girl she was.

The only thing he didn’t know was that it meant absolutely nothing to her (or maybe just a different sort of attention from this man whose attention she craved!) I explained to Joe that unless you catch a dog right in the act of doing something you don’t want (like relieving themselves in the house, gnawing on a piece of furniture, playing in the potted plants, etc) your opinions and comments are irrelevant and fall on deaf ears, no matter how abashed a dog may appear to be.

Even if you catch the dog in the moment of snatching the cheese, all you can do is tell her “Off” the counter and remove the piece of cheese from her mouth (creating a second-order problem of what you can possibly do with the cheese now, one wonders?!)

The only solution to the problem is to never leave a nice piece of cheese or anything else delicious on an accessible surface!

Marcy Burke, one of the Avidog International trainer/breeders who are my co-hosts on my dog training show GOOD DOGS! told the story of the stick of butter her husband once left on their kitchen island. Their lovely well-manner Golden Retriever who swallowed it down has been checking out that counter ever since, hoping for years for another windfall.

The only solution to the Cheese Problem is to avoid temptation in the first place.

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

Halo Pets

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A Look Back at 2017 + Thoughts on the Upcoming Year

A Space Themed First Birthday Party (Bubby and Bean)

Happy 2018, friends! Welcome to our very first post of the year.

I’ve admittedly never been big on the whole new year thing. I don’t make resolutions, I’m usually a little sad because January starts Robbie’s busy season for being on the road, and since New Year’s Day is also my birthday, I’m usually a little meh in general – because try as I might to be a super empowered bad ass lady who truly believes age is just a number, I’m also old enough where, ya know, turning a year older just doesn’t feel all that great.

All of that said, something about this new year feels different – like a fresh start. Maybe it’s because we move into our new house – and our first official owned home, ever – tomorrow (!!!). Maybe it’s because this holiday season was my most successful as an entrepreneur in many years, and something inside of me is hopeful that this year is going to continue that way (so real life things like bills won’t feel quite so stressful as in years past). Maybe it’s because both 2016 and 2017 were pretty crappy – for much of the world, it seems. Or maybe I just have a different attitude in general. Whatever the reason, I have a lot of faith in 2018. I really do.

And now onto this post and Bubby and Bean! These annual roundups are some of my favorite posts to put together each year. Taking the time to go back and read through the blog for the entire previous year, then select my favorite posts to share, month by month, is almost therapeutic. Sometimes in the day to day I’m so busy with deadlines and projects, and, as work at home mom trying to squeeze it all in when the kids are napping or at school or asleep, that I forget how much I genuinely love what I do. (Side note: I never know how to answer people who ask me what I do for a living. I always feel weird using the word influencer, but blogger feels dated since so much of what I do goes beyond blogging; so I usually say content creator. And people look at me like, ummm? It’s kind of funny.) Any way, even though the vast majority of this job is emails and forms and contracts and applications and negotiations and bookkeeping and a whole lot of social media work (in other worlds, things that aren’t my forte), being able to be creative on some level everyday through writing and photography and other random creative projects is incredibly fulfilling. Being able to share small pieces of my world, and learning more about others’ worlds while I’m at it, is also pretty cool.

Anyway, here we go!

Starting with the top image: In January, I shared Emmett’s spaced themed first birthday party.

Guacamole and Black Bean Pizza (via Bubby and Bean)

This delicious (and super easy) guacamole and black bean pizza was another popular post last January.

One Week Without Sugar

I gave up sugar for a week in February and wrote a little blurb about it here, with the full piece on Prevention Magazine.

Vegan, Plant-Based Nachos, 3 Ways

I ate a lot of plant based foods in 2017. These vegan nachos, prepared in 3 different ways, were one of my favorite snacks.

Salsa Verde, Avocado, + Spinach Quesadillas

And speaking of Mexican inspired food, I shared these St. Patrick’s Day quesadillas in March, which, while not plant based like the nachos, were also a favorite snack last year.

The 15 BEST Items to Get at Trader Joe's

This post from April, on the 15 items I buy most at Trader Joe’s, was one of the most read and shared of 2017.

My little lady and I unintentionally dressed alike and frolicked in the desert during our trip to Arizona in April.

10 Anti-Aging Beauty Hacks

This post on anti-aging hacks I do everyday was also one of our most read posts of the year.

Mango Lemon Prosecco Cocktails with Blueberries

In May, I shared these mango lemon prosecco cocktails (which I drank all summer long),

Our Mama Daughter Bond (+ a $  100 Minnetonka Gift Card Giveaway!)

Also in May, in honor of Mother’s Day, I shared some thoughts on E’s and my mama daughter bond (in our cute matching sandals).

8 Creative Uses for Baby Bubble Bath

I had fun putting together this post on 8 creative uses for bubble bath in June.

DIY Personalized Sofia the First Amulet Necklace

We had so much fun putting together these DIY Sofia the First amulet necklaces.

Jasmine Rice, Lentil, and Red Quinoa Tacos

In July I shared the recipe for one of my favorite summer meals, jasmine rice, red lentil, and quinoa tacos.

Our Perfectly Imperfect Mickey Mouse Pancakes

Also in July we shared our tradition of making Mickey Mouse pancakes as a family. So fun.

We spent the day at the zoo in August, and I talked about finding new ways to encourage outdoor play.

How To Put Together A Self Care Package

In September I put together a self care package for my sister (and Essley and I baked some really yummy cookies to put inside).

Also in September, I talked about my attempts at dressing sustainably without sacrificing style.

My Toddler Breast Feeding Journey

I got personal and shared my toddler breastfeeding journey in October.

We had fun decorating our mantel and fireplace area for Halloween.

How To Make You Own Play Dough | Bubby and Bean

We made homemade play dough (and put together our first ever hands only video!).

Family Halloween Costume Ideas

I had to share our unintentionally matching Halloween costumes, of course.

Almond Butter Maple Oatmeal

In November, I made my own nut butter and shared this recipe for almond butter maple oatmeal.

Our Family Dance Parties (& Why Music Is Important To Us)

This post from November on our family dance parties and why music is important to us was our most read of the month.

A Beautiful (and Incredibly Easy) Holiday Snack Spread

In early December, I had way more fun than I probably should have putting together this beautiful but super easy holiday snack spread. (Hey, I love snacks, and if they’re pretty snacks, I’m smitten.)

Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered

And finally, this post from December on being an older mom was my favorite post to write in 2017.

This will be my eighth year (!) running Bubby and Bean, and boy has blogging changed a lot (like, a lot) along the way, but I’m at a good place with it. I like where things are now, and even though I worked an insane amount of hours the last couple of months of 2017, it’s nice to feel in a groove. That said, I do think some things will be different around here in the upcoming year. For one, as Essley and Emmett get older, I will likely be sharing less and less of them online. I keep 99% of our lives private already, but that 1% might not be fun for them as they get into grade school and learn to use the internet themselves. And until they can express their own opinions about being a part of the blog and my Instagram, I feel more and more of a pull to be cautious. I may write an entire post devoted to this later this month. Stay tuned. I’d also like to take more social media breaks in general this year. This one is tough because social media is a huge part of my job; but it can also be a soul sucker. I took an unintentional week long break from Instagram due to sick kids and other unforeseen circumstances, and it really forced me to realize how much better I feel when I am living in the present, in reality. Overall, I’m excited to see what 2018 brings for Bubby and Bean! Thank you, as always, for supporting us. You are the best readers in the world.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Under Construction!

I am happy to announce that a new chapter is in the works!


LoveMy2Dogs

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Christmas Gifts from Grandma

Did Grandma give you anything embarrassing this Christmas? Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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