by Richard Clapham 1922
Next in importance to the hounds are the terriers, for without their help it would be impossible to eject an otter from his holt. The most important quality in a terrier is gameness, for no matter how well built he is, if he has not the courage to go below ground and stay with his otter until the latter bolts, or the diggers unearth him, he is not worth his keep. Provided he is thoroughly game, and not too big, it matters not how a terrier is bred. He is there to work, and not to be looked at. Roughly speaking, a terrier of about 14 lb. weight will be suited to otter-hunting. As, apart from bolting otters, he will not be called upon to do any great amount of traveling over rough country, short legs are no great drawback to him. For all that, however, we like to see a terrier with a fair length of leg, for there are certain holts, particularly amongst rocks, where an otter can command the upper position, and a short-legged terrier is much handicapped when trying to get at him. A terrier should have a fair head and jaw, and he should be as narrow in front as is compatible with adequate heart and lung room. A narrow-fronted dog can always get into a smaller place than a broad-chested one, even if he is longer on the leg. A terrier that will lie up close to an otter and move him with his tongue is preferable to one that goes straight in to the attack. His barking eventually gets on the otter’s nerves and causes him to get “out of that,” while should the otter refuse to bolt, the terrier’s voice is a guide as to where to dig. A terrier soon learns his job, and after getting mauled a time or two by otters, he will make more use of his tongue than his teeth. When entering a puppy for the first time, choose an easy place, so that the youngster has a fair chance to get in touch with his otter.
As to the colour of a terrier, good ones—like horses—come in all colours. White is perhaps preferable, as a white terrier is less likely to be mistaken for the otter by hounds at a kill. Certainly white terriers appear to suffer fewer casualties in this respect than coloured ones. As to whether terriers should run loose with hounds is a question the Master must settle for himself. When terriers are loose, there is always the chance that cubs may be chopped by them, though to set against such a contretemps, many an otter is found and put down by the terriers. Again, coloured terriers running loose may be killed or badly mauled by hounds, when the latter are hard at their otter.
During the season of 1921, with the K. and D.O.H., we had two coloured terriers worried by hounds, one of which recovered but the other died the same night. The otter, which was getting beat, took to land, and hounds collared him as he left the water, the terriers being seized by some of the pack in mistake for their quarry. Had those terriers been in the couples at the time, they would have been saved. It is really safest to lead the terriers until they are wanted, and after bolting their otter they should be got hold of again as soon as possible. The same when hounds are worrying their otter, always pick up the terriers if any of them are loose.