The Working Jack Russell

An Extract from ‘The Working Jack Russell’ by Eddie Chapman

The story of Foxwarren started when I was a young lad out shooting rats one day on a rubbish dump, I was sitting there quietly watching for the odd rat to appear when suddenly an old man appeared with several terriers, all frantically working amongst the rubbish for the rats and killing with lightning speed any that appeared. Little did I realise then, that this chance meeting with this old man and his terriers was to form my destiny for the rest of my life, as my fascination for those terriers was quite overwhelming.

Luck has played a large part in my life, as to start with I was lucky to have met old Knocker who was himself a life-long admirer of the Jack Russell terrier, rather than someone else who may have worked some other breed of terrier. Lucky too, as old knocker was a good teacher about the breed, with a vast amount of experience working the breed around an area of South Wales, that to most young men these days would think impossible to work successfully with Jack Russell terriers. Knocker though knew and appreciated the special talents of the breed, he understood how to work them successfully, in that most difficult of areas, which consisted mainly of vast landslides, rock outcrops, quarries and old mine workings, which were the homes of the local fox population, and none of which could be dug with the spade. His method was simple really for he used the fox’s instinct for survival, combined with the unique way the Jack Russell works in achieving his goal.

Knocker was a great dog man and also kept several Lurchers that he worked in conjunction with his Jack Russell’s. He knew each location well and placed his Lurchers at different points well away from the holding spots well in advance of entering a terrier, for he knew from experience that when a fox from that spot bolted, they invariably took the same routes that countless foxes before them had taken, thus leading them to the Lurchers, when they would spring into action and kill their fox on the run. Knockers knowledge of each fox holding location was uncanny, for he knew from experience exactly were to enter his terrier, or in-fact if it would take more than one terrier to get the fox or foxes to vacate their stronghold, as some times he would put in a second or even third, but almost always at different entrances from the first. Silence was Knockers key to success; for a fox once disturbed by human voices at such locations are loathed to leave the sanctuary of their stronghold. However, old Knocker very rarely went any were near the entrances himself, but just had to point to a terrier were he wanted it to go and it was off in a flash.

Foxes are notoriously light sleepers, and can pick up the slightest sound great distances away from where they sleep. When the first sound they hear is that of a Jack Russell screaming at them, they instinctively think that the coast is clear for an escape rather than a confrontation with a terrier, and they make their getaway, which is usually along a well established route that countless generations of Foxes have used in the past, and where Knocker has his Lurchers in wait. Using this method accounted for great numbers of foxes, for old Knocker, with his Jack Russell’s very rarely if ever getting bitten at all, which obviously influenced me greatly as a youngster. Added to this the constant reminders given to me by the old man of only using the best Jack Russell bloodlines because of their unique work style, intelligence and temperament, and I was hooked for life on the breed that has stood me in good stead for over half a century, working my terriers for over twenty hunts in both Great Britain and Ireland.

Others who influenced me in my early days were Charles Parker of the Heythrop and Hawkstone, who taught me a lot about running a hunt country and the earth stopping side of it. Gerald Jones, the Exmoor hunt terrier man, better known to most as Dan Russell was like meeting Jack Russell himself, when I first went to the Exmoor hunt as a whip in 1963.

No one knew more about Jack Russell and his terriers or of Arthur Hinaman for that matter as he was given his first terriers by Hinaman himself as a boy. Mr Jones as I always called him was a natural teacher, and seeing I was so keen on the breed and terrier work, took a great interest in my education about the breed, which at the time I probably didn’t appreciate, although as the years went by I realised was becoming more and more important to me. I went regularly to his home which at the time was like a shrine to Jack Russell, with all sorts of artefacts relating to the great man, pedigrees of his terriers, countless letters written by him, with photos ,books relating to him which I read with relish. Unfortunately a year or so later it was all gone as Mr Jones’s home burnt to the ground, and everything in it went up in smoke. This was a terrible tragedy, not only to me but to the Jack Russell world as a whole, for the whole history of the breed was there, like some sort of museum, one of the lows of my life.

As second whip to the Exmoor, I only had one horse, so only rode one day out of the four days a week that they hunted then, so on the other three I always ran with a terrier and a spade, invariably getting to any earth the hounds marked at well in advance of the hunt land Rover, which contained the Masters wife Mrs Enid Hosegood, who bred the hunt terriers, and Mr Jones who worked them. Mrs Hosegood had a long and well established line of under-twelve inch Jack Russell’s, which had been handed down to her by her father before her, who had apparently bred them since the beginning of the century.

The latest addition to her breeding programme at that time was an eleven inch dog that had been bred by the Duchess of Beaufort, a terrier that was reputed to have been a direct descendant of a terrier given to the eighth dukes father by Jack Russell himself, a dog called Ajax, the eighth Duke confirmed this story to me personally some years later when at the Exmoor hunt terrier show when the Duke was Judging the terriers, incidentally this was the only time the Duke ever judged terriers.

As to me this is part of Jack Russell history I will relate the story of that conversation here.

In those days the Exmoor used to give a special prize in the class for hunt terriers which was a silver spade, which had reputedly been used by Queen Victoria to turn over the first sod of earth when they started work on building the AI road. This spade in those days was a much sort after prize, and a great many hunt terrier men came from far and wide each year to try and win it. I had won this spade on both the previous years with the same dog, a little eleven inch dog who was the spitting image of the dog Sinbad, who Mrs Hosegood had purchased off the Duchess of Beaufort and who incidentally was his grand sire.

During the whole show, the old Duke who really was getting on in years then, just sat on his shooting stick in the middle of the ring as the terriers were paraded around, eventually pointing to the three he considered the best in each class, who were then asked to line up in front of the Duke by Mr Jones who always did the stewarding in those days, whence they were given their respective rosettes. The silver spade class was always the last class of the show, and throughout I had kept my little dog Sinbad shut up and hidden in the back of my van.

However when I entered with Sinbad the old Duke suddenly and for the first time that day rose to his feet and almost ran across the ring to me, where did you get that dog he demanded, bred him myself your grace I answered, I will buy him off you now he said, to which I said he’s not for sale your grace, to which he said, now don’t quibble with me young man I want that dog and I am determined to have him, to which I said, I expect you are your grace but the fact is I would rather part with my wife than this dog, and I wouldn’t part with her for anything either so I am sorry your grace but I would not even consider selling him for anything in the world. The Duke of course was not used to being refused anything by anyone, he being who he was, and especially by me a mere hunt terrier man, as he was the Queens horseman and the senior master of foxhounds in the whole of the united kingdom. Your Eddie Chapman aren’t you he said, at the Monmouthshire aren’t you, yes I said your grace, my joint master told me about you last year when he visited your kennel while judging the Monmouthshire puppy show, also told me about this dog, funny you should turn up at this show with him. Then he proceeded to tell me about Ajax, and about the breeding he and his father had done with Jack Russell’s, and how my Sinbad for whatever reason was almost identical to Ajax, he went on and on and on, and all the time everyone else at the show were just stood there waiting for him, no one daring to say a word to him, un-till finally he had to give in as he realised I was quite determined to keep the dog. Needless to say but Sinbad won the silver spade for the third year running.

Working terries as a professional for the Exmoor Foxhounds was a vital part of my education in those days, especially so as I was under the guidance of Mr Jones, but working the same earths that obviously Jack Russell himself had worked was a real eye opener. As it taught me the most important thing of all concerning the breed known as the Jack Russell, and that was that it needed to be of a certain size and no bigger in order to negotiate the small earths of that country. Jack Russell’s own standard of the size of a vixen fox was a very good guide to keep in mind when choosing a stud dog, and has stood me in good stead over the years. As I have found that where ever I went and whatever hunt I have worked for. If the terriers I bred could work the Exmoor country then they could work anywhere. And was one of the reasons why for over twenty years after I left the Exmoor, I still went back there to work my terriers whenever I could. Just to prove to myself that I still bred the correct size of terrier to suit the earths of the Exmoor country.

I have always had a policy (in fact right up to the present time) Of lending any spare working terriers I have to other hunt terrier men, who are less fortunate than me with my large breeding programme. So that they may be given the chance to work.

One can imagine I was very proud indeed when one of the greatest huntsmen of our time the late Ronny Wallace rang me back in the middle nineteen eighties, saying he was going to the Exmoor hunt as master and would it be possible for me to lend him some of my Jack Russells so his terrier man would have the right sort to suit that country. The terrier man was Anthony Gaillard and for (I think eight seasons) he worked my terriers exclusively for the Exmoor Foxhounds. Lending him about six per season, proving once again that I was still breeding to Russell’s standard.

Over the years I made it my business to travel the whole of the British Isles, both judging and showing my terriers in order to seek out the best Jack Russell lines available. And have been very fortunate in having acquired some of the greatest lines still available up to about twenty years ago. With the showing craze I found the pure lines were being diluted by cross breeding. I could no longer find outcrosses of pure blood, so I decided to stick to the eight or so distinct lines already established in my kennel. And breed exclusively from them until the end of my days.

There are some great terriers back in my pedigrees that I still line breed today. Dogs such as East Essex Sam bred and worked by Don Campbell. George who I later registered as Foxwarren Jaws who was the last stud dog used by that great terrier man Ted Adset from the Chidingfold & Leconfield . Essex Union Rhino a dog bred and worked by the late Huntsman Dick Deakin who went back to his father’s South Devon terriers. Badger bred by Terrie Richmond who brought in the John Hodder line into my kennel. Bracken of Knightwood who could be traced back to the famous terriers of Mick Clark of West Kent fame in the forties and fifties , just to name but a few, and are  still being recreated here at Foxwarren Kennels by my long term line breeding programme. A life times experience and a dedication to preserving the real Jack Russell for those who come after me are the policies of Foxwarren and will remain so in my life time.

Keeping to my original bloodlines since my retirement in 1988 has certainly paid dividends for me, as the terriers I breed now have the same looks, temperament, and intelligence that they always have had so not only work the same, but because of their friendly nature, make the ideal small family pet, which these days with so few going to working homes is the biggest part of my market, and without which I could not survive. Every day we get phone calls, letters and emails from people all over the world telling us how pleased and amazed they are with the terriers they have got from us, saying among other things how surprised they are at our terriers friendly and ultra intelligent nature, how quick they are to learn, adapt, and fit in to their new environment. How they are part of the family, play with the children, sleep on or in the bed, and join in with every family activity. People tell me regularly how their whole lives have been changed and enhanced when one of my puppies has arrived giving them a whole new lease of life. They are particularly good with old people, getting them out of the house, and away from the dreaded TV, many telling me how their whole life revolves around their terrier and how much their lives have been changed by them.

All this of course has given me great satisfaction, and has further proved to me that my policy of breeding from only the purest Russell lines has paid off for they are gaining quite a reputation both here and worldwide as having quite a unique temperament. So there you have it, after fifty years of breeding at Foxwarren, the terriers now being produced still work as good as ever, are still as clever and intelligent as ever, and still have that unique and very special friendly nature which has always been the hallmark of this very special breed. To learn more about the Foxwarren terriers please give me a ring on 01258857801, when I will be only too happy to discuss anything and everything you want to know about these terriers. Or if you are from abroad and intend visiting England in the near future and would like to visit my kennel, then do please make sure you make an appointment first, as I am not always available.

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