Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Dog Named Jeff

My grandfather, Carl, and his family, adopted a Boston Terrier back in 1915. They named him simply Jeff. Included in the documents my grandfather saved all these years was Jeff's pedigree chart and a couple of blurry and faded photos. I'm not necessarily a fan of the Boston Terrier (sorry to my friends who do have one), despite the fact I have lived in the Boston area for over twenty years. Jeff's AKC number is 210340, and the thought did cross my mind to look into his ancestry – since that is what I like to do on this blog – that is, until I read on the AKC website that all Boston Terriers came from the same two canines. Oh well. Makes you wonder about us humans, doesn't it?

According to the AKC, the Boston Terrier is nicknamed the "American gentleman among dogs" because of his characteristically gentle disposition. The breed is a true American breed, resulting from a cross between an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier.

Around 1870, William O'Brien of Boston sold an imported dog named "Judge" to Robert C. Hooper, also of Boston. This dog was commonly known as "Hooper's Judge" and became the ancestor of almost all true modern Boston Terriers.

He was mated to a white bitch owned by Edward Burnett named "Gyp" or "Kate"(one of Jeff's ancestors listed on the chart is a Gypsie J. – most certainly just a few generations removed from Gyp). From that mating descended a dog named "Wells' Eph" who was bred to a bitch named "Tobin's Kate". The Boston Terrier as a breed evolved from these dogs.

In 1889 about thirty fanciers in and around Boston organized what was known as the American Bull Terrier Club. They were showing dogs name as Round Heads or Bull Terriers. As time went on, these people met with considerable opposition from Bull Terrier and Bulldog fanciers who objected to the similarity of breed name, as they said this new breed was quite unlike their own.

As this breed was in its infancy, the AKC was not yet convinced that the breed would breed true to type. The new breed's supporters would not be dissuaded, however, and they established the Boston Terrier Club of America in 1891, changing the name of the breed from Round Heads or Bull Terriers, to Boston Terriers, taking the name of the city where the breed originated. The American Kennel Club admitted the breed to the Stud Book in 1893.

The AKC says the Boston Terrier is not a fighter, but is able to take care of himself, and is eminently suitable as a companion and house pet.

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