Humans created dogs. In pre-history, we stole the pups of the wolves which stalked us, chose the cutest and most amiable among them, bred them, loved them and raised them to be our companions. Why? To help us with hunting and gathering of course.
Like most things, if you think about dog ownership long enough, it becomes about foraging. There are still foraging dogs working today, of course. Truffle-hunting dogs certainly earn their keep (truffle is one of the most expensive consumables in the world, up there with saffron and printer ink) and, since you can train them not to eat the truffles they find, they have the advantage over truffle pigs, which forage instinctively but have to be forcibly restrained by the three most strapping lads in the Italian village just to prevent them gobbling down 100 grand’s-worth of white fungal gold. A friend once tried to train a truffle dog by playing fetch with a sock full of truffles. Every time he thought the dog was on the scent of wild truffle, it just led him to Carluccios’ deli counter. Such is life.
And hunting? Forget about it! If you’ve ever tried to chase down a mature male Aurochs in the forests of paleolithic Islington flanked by two noble hunting hounds, and then tried to chase down a mature male Aurochs in the forests of paleolithic Islington WITHOUT being flanked by two noble hunting hounds, you’ll know what I mean.
These days, it’s more about companionship and less about truffling and killing ten foot tall cows. Most dogs are happy to chill out, especially in a pub garden. And just like that, this interesting blog about man’s relationship with domesticated animals reveals itself as a glorified advert for The Verulam Arms. Bet you didn’t see that coming! The point, though it’s taken a while to get here, is that The Verulam Arms is one of the most dog friendly pubs in St Albans. Bring your feathered friend in for a beer and we’ll make sure he receives a warm welcome, just like these guys:
This is Presley. Born and raised in Texas, he’s a coonhound: bred to chase raccoons up trees and bark at them. But in his spare time he likes nothing better than soaking up some rays in the sunny garden of The Verulam Arms.
This is Ruby. She’s a dachshund. Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers, their sausage-shaped bodies are great for sneaking into holes in the forest. When she’s not insinuating herself into a badger’s sett Ruby spends her time with us at The Verulam Arms, hunting the metaphorical badgers of great beer and easy living.
This is Ernie. He’s a puppy, and a border terrier if I’m not much mistaken. Border terriers were bred to catch vermin, mainly rats. Fortunately there are no rats at The Verulam Arms, so when Ernie comes to visit he can kick back and relax, totally off-duty.
And finally, in this first instalment of “Dogs of The Verulam Arms”, we have Ellie. She’s a west highland terrier. Westies were first bred because the sandy-haired terriers used in Scottish hunting lodges kept getting mistaken for foxes and shot. So a new breed was developed, white as the driven snow (except that brown bit around the mouth), which would never cause such confusion. As you can see, when Ellie chills out with a Mongozo Coconut beer at the bar of The Verulam Arms, there’s no danger of mistaking her for a fox. They aren’t so stylish.