475RE: [tr-m] Did TR give dogs as gifts to foreign dignitaries?
- Feb 8, 2003
Excellent posting, and greatly amusing.
Actually, in reading Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (by H. Paul Jeffers -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0891417397/104-9339910-5383103) a quoted letter by TR (to his eldest son) makes reference to the hunt, indicating delight at seeing the dogs pursue the cat up a tree, and mentioning the cougar he killed by knife. He writes “Soon we saw the lion in a treetop, with two of his dogs so high up among the branches that he was striking at them. He was more afraid of us than the dogs, and as soon as he saw us he took a great flying leap and was off, the pack close behind. In a few hundred yards they had him up another tree. They could have killed him by themselves. But he bit and clawed four of them, and for fear that he might kill one I ran in and stabbed him behind the shoulder, thrusting the knife right into his heart. I have always wished to kill a cougar as I did this one, with dogs and the knife.”
The book (which incidentally, is a terrific read) then states that “The tale was even more thrilling for [Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.] because the knife his father used was one that Ted had given him.” p 36.
I wonder why it’s not available at http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/association/products.htm.
From: Jeremy Johnston [mailto:johnstoe@...]
Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 1:11 PM
Subject: [tr-m] Did TR give dogs as gifts to foreign dignitaries?
Dear TR Discussion Group Members,
I finally made it back home and found my material on “Skip,” Goff, and TR. For those readers who are sensitive to hunting stories, may I suggest you stop reading this email at this point. I have also attached a biography of John B. Goff. I wrote this a number of years ago in grad school and it is a little rough, especially the endnotes.
TR and John Goff hunted together in northwestern Colorado in 1901 and 1905. TR and Goff hunted cougars in 1901 and then bear in 1905. In both hunts, Goff’s dogs were used to track and tree the hunters’ prey. In an Outdoor Life article, John Goff described his pack as follows:
I am often asked “What kind of dogs are best adapted to bear and lion hunting?” My answer has been that common curs have often done me more service than the finely-bred dogs of any breed. I have in my pack – and name them here in the order of their efficiency – foxhounds, bloodhounds, crosses between these two, bull-terriers, fox-terriers, fox-terrier crosses with other terriers, and canines that can only be called just “dog.”
While the greatest essential of a bear dog is the sense of scent, yet there are other qualifications that crowd this one awfully close, such, for instance, as that of worrying a bear and causing him to lose time by fighting off the dogs, which, in grizzly hunting especially, is a valuable aid. Then the hunter can come up and get a shot, or if a black bear, this worrying process will soon cause him to tree, when of course the chase is ended.
With the fighting and worrying of the bear by the dogs is combined the essential of being able to run in and nip and then get away before the powerful paw of the bear can land. This habit is only acquired by actual bear-hunting, and is one of the dearest lessons the bear dog learns, for nearly all my dogs have at one time or another – in some cases many more times than one – received chastisement from bears which impresses vividly on their minds that they must hurry after biting the bear if they would continue to grace this terrestrial sphere with their presence.
A bulldog or bull-terrier is one of the hardest dogs to teach this lesson of self-protection. Owing to their disposition it is hard for them to let go in time to save themselves, while they will rush in (at first) on a bear or lion, absolutely unmindful of the consequences.
The first lesson is invariably taught by the despised little porcupine, but even this does not remind them that they must be careful of bears. After one or two clouts from the big paws, however, they realize that care must be taken – that is, if they survive the blows. (Outdoor Life, volume vol. xvi, number 3, September, 1905)
During the 1905 bear hunt, TR met “Skip.” TR wrote in Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter:
There was a funny little black and tan[terrier], named Skip, a most friendly little fellow, especially found of riding in front or behind the saddle of any one of us who would take him up, although perfectly able to travel forty miles a day on his own sturdy legs if he had to, and then to join in the worry of the quarry when once it had been shot…Skip adopted me as his special master, rode with me whenever I would let him, and slept on the foot of my bed at night, growling defiance at anything that came near. I grew attached to the friendly, bright little fellow, and at the end of the hunt took him home with me as a playmate for the children. (OPAH, pg. 71-72)
Of course Skip would have gone through the training process described by Goff. Perhaps being a little smarter than the other terriers, he decided his place in the hunt was on the back of a saddle instead of in the middle of the pack. Still Skip was willing to participate in any fight with bobcats and bears. TR recalled two incidents when Skip and Shorty, another of Goff’s dogs, treed bobcats. In one incident, Skip climbed 30feet into a tree in hopes of tangling with a bobcat. TR also wrote in Outdoor Pastimes that Skip was the first one to attack a bear after it had been shot from its perch in a tree.
The story of Skip in the Roosevelt family is well documented in the book, A Bully Father: Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children. In this collection of letters to his children, TR tells the story of Skip’s life in the White House and Sagamore Hill. It is a very moving collection, detailing the housebreaking of a western hunting dog into the presidential home, Skip’s adventures with Archie, and the sorrows of Skip running away and then the joy of his return. It also includes a poignant letter from TR to Archie expressing delight in the memories of Skip after his untimely death.
TR reported to Goff the following news in a letter dated January 25, 1908, “I am very sorry to say that both Shorty and Skip got killed by automobiles last summer. Skip’s death nearly broke Archie’s heart.”
I always found the story of Skip to be an amazing animal tale (no pun intended). It is fascinating to ponder all the experiences this little terrier went through, from the mountains of Colorado, to the corridors of the White House, and to the fields of Sagamore Hill. I would also have to agree with what many of you have expressed, one of my favorite photos is the one of TR sitting in the doorway of a cabin, reading a book, with Skip on his lap.
From: TBaker [mailto:tbaker@...]
Sent: Sunday, February 02, 2003 10:20 PM
Subject: Re: [tr-m] Did TR give dogs as gifts to foreign dignitaries?
Jeremy - so excited to hear this!!
I would love info on the breeding and use of your great-great-grandpa's dogs, and interested in any pictures you have.
Waiting here with baited breath...counting the minutes....hehehe..
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