Mr Frank Buck Interview 1984

Frank Buck’s first terrier came to him from his father, a gypsy who had kept his own type of terrier for many years – a line which Frank eventually carried on. Incidentally, Frank’s father bred the famous dog Red Ike, a dog that would take a hold of anything and once fastened on to a deer, which it eventually brought down. John Park says that Mr. Breay told him that at that time no one had a strain of terriers apart from Frank and the six Fell packs who each had their own localized strain and of course, Frank carried forward his father’s strain.

Frank took his father’s advice, he told Frank how to breed them and the secrets passed from father to son. “They had a lot of Bedlington in them in those days” said Frank, “all the fell terriers did. They couldn’t stand the cold. Not if it was blowing, frosty, snowy stuff. Could they buggery!! It used to blow their coats, they used to starve but he bred them down to a good coat in the end. He put Sealyham into them and bred off that until they got lovely coats, and then he mated a black and tan bitch to a blue dog.

There was a lot of blue in them, really blue, belonging to Porter, Eskdale and Ennerdale. They were a gentleman’s pack then but he died and left them and eventually Edmund Porter’s grandfather started hunting them. Well they used his dog and got a ‘black un’. ‘One black bitch; just one black pup’. So he lined her again next time and she had two blacks, a dog and a bitch. There’s where it started. He inbred for a bit to keep them black and now you can put a black dog on almost anything and they will get black. So that’s how they got the black terriers.

Frank was about twelve years of age when his father gave him his first dog, Punch. Punch was black and tan, out of black breeding, described by Frank as ‘ a hell of a good ‘un’ At this time a Gamekeeper by the name of Dick Brown asked Frank to go with to try and find and kill a fox. Frank entered Myrtle. “Get gun ready” said Dick, “you should kill him before he gets out of the check hole,” and with that, young Buck raised the .410 and killed the fox ‘clean as a whistle’ Dick Brown was a happy man gave Frank a double barreled .410 shotgun. Dick Brown was also good friends with Mr Breay and that was how Frank, a mere lad, got to know the great man.

Even so many years later when frank asked to use one of Mr Breay terrier for stud, he wouldn’t let the young man to quote “Then, years after, skipping a hell of a lot of work, I asked old Breay if I could use one of his, would he buggery? He wouldn’t let anybody use his dog – a dog called Ozzie, black and tan, a bloody good un an all. Nobody had better. This was about 1929/30 and I knew him well but he wouldn’t let me use his dog. But then he got a hell of a good bitch stuck fast. What was her name? Damn, can’t remember the name, something like Greta”.

But sometime later one of Mr. Breays Terriers became trapped, Frank being an expert with dynamite; it was such a bad place that Mr. Breay approached Frank more or less as a last resort. It was the only hope of rescue for the terrier.

Mr Breay

“Can you get her out?”

Frank Buck

“Aye! Maybe?”

Frank Buck would say “there was a lump of bloody rock! it came out of ground on other side, it’s still there today, settled into the hill! What a bloody size! “Twas like a bloody house! But I knew it wouldn’t hurt the dog because there was a clay back through so it would lift off. It was the only hope anyway.

Mr. Breay had two terriers with him besides and he said, “Which would you like to use?” I said “This un when it comes time” and I said, “I like that lal blue bitch of yours”.

He said, “Do you?”

I said, “Aye, I do, I like her”.

He said “I’ll give you her”.

This was Tiger “She, were a bloody good ‘un’. I had her till she died when she were eighteen years old. I bred off her and I bred a great dog of Breay’s by a dog from the Bedale kennels. Now I’ll tell you how I got hold of him”. “Bedale had run in one day and I stopped and watched for a bit, with the wagon. I had a good terrier, it was her anyway, Tiger, it was her. I walked across, I knew the master, Major Burden and he says “We can’t get it out of here Frank”. “Well” I says “I’ve wifes lal terrier wi me, if tha likes we shall try it cos, I says, that bugger’s useless that’s waffling there”. And he laughed, he was grand old man, and he says “What will wife say?” and I says “I don’t know if it will go or not (because there were a lot of people about) but we will try it”. So he got together bugger out, fox wouldn’t bolt, would it hell. So I popped her in, it was only like a tree hole, it bloody lifted did bloody old tree nearly – out it flew. Major Burden didn’t go, he stopped, he said ‘How much do you want for that? Will your wife sell it?” I said, “No, she’ll play hell if she knows its been in”.

So he came up at night and he was talking and Ivy said, “Major Burden, it isn’t my dog. He didn’t want to put it in to be showed up if it didn’t bolt it”. She was straight about it. So he said “I would like to use Craney (a dog called Craney) on her and have a pup”. Fair enough. Can do. And she had five pups. He got one – it make a good ‘un’. I kept two and old Breay got the other two. He lost them both in holes. Got ‘em – but dead”.

In all this time other than mentioning mating Sealyham (a top class badger dog at the time) improve coats of the Bedlington types all mating where made to maintain or improve working ability, Craney was a border terrier

Frank Buck say “And then I bred him a lot – Skittle, Jet, Monty, he never hardly bred a terrier, he got them from me. But he was a good man, they were half his breed and he knew how they were bred. He used to look at pups and say “I like that, I like that. We will keep these, we’ll not sell them”. And then he would bring me three back, ready for work almost but he would keep one, he always kept the best. I just had to start to work them when he brought them back. He was a good keeper of a dog, they would come back lovely.

So Breay’s lines got to mix with the lines Franks father’s dogs. Frank Buck said “Cyril’s lines came one from Scotland and one from Maryport, a bloke called Robinson. I knew his dogs and they were all right but he died and I went to see his dogs had pricked ears and even today they sometimes crop up. John believes the reason for this is that Frank used a Scottish terrier in the early days – not a bull- never a bull, for Frank was dead against any bull blood in his terriers. He didn’t want that at all. Many of the early dogs had a white foot and again, this sometimes occurs even now.

Frank was very secretive about the breeding of his dogs and John says that he would never tell how they were bred but later on, some facts would gradually emerge. In later years Frank never bred close – he bred to type. Breay bred close – always. But John says that Frank Buck had some of the best terriers that ever entered an earth. They were tough all right but Frank never wanted bull blood. He wanted sense as well as courage and John Park himself, will not breed a real hard dog to a real hard bitch. He says that the pups can come too hard and will usually fail after a while But Cyril Breay’s maxim was ‘never breed to a terrier that can’t regularly kill his fox”.

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