Sunday, Oct. 20, is the date of the St. Michaels annual Jack Russell races. There is no other comparable race on turf in America. It’s like the Kentucky Derby on grass with the added attraction of fight possibilities. (Dachshunds also race, which means there’s not a possibility but a probability of a fight.) The race is to be held at the St. Michaels Inn beginning at 11 a.m. Refreshments will be served.
The terriers are put in cages at the starting gate and muzzled. A piece of animal fur is then dangled in front of them, sending them into a terrier frenzy. The gates are then opened, and the dogs take off like bats out of hell after it. It’s pulled down the track to a small opening in bales of hay with the pack racing after it and slamming one another to be the first to get into the opening. For the most part. Sometimes the Jacks get distracted by the people lining the track and sometimes by the other dogs.
I’ve owned Jack Russells for over 35 years, and my dogs have never won anything. My dog Tater was in a puppy race one time and was disqualified when he became enamored with the dog next to him and had to be pried off the dog’s leg. My dog Flasher, who was very fast and whom I thought might have a chance, disappointed me when the cage was opened and the dogs took off, and there was no Flasher. He apparently objected to the muzzle and spent the race in the cage trying to remove it.
For some odd reason, my dogs never seem to be very well disciplined or socially adept.
I do have a dog now, The Bug, who is a dachshund mix, Her mother having had unsafe sex with a Pomeranian. She has shown no indication of racing other than to chase a squirrel occasionally, so I don’t know if she’ll enter the race or not.
The overwhelming favorite in these races is a dog named Beacon, who seemed to win each year in dominating fashion. I don’t know if Beacon will be racing this year or if he’s retired or if drug testing disqualified him.
Jack Russell terriers were first bred by the Rev. John Russell of Exeter College in Oxford, England. He was a fox-hunting enthusiast who purchased a small white and tan terrier from a local milkman. It was exactly what Russell was looking for: It was mainly white, which made it easy to identify, and it had high stamina and the courage to chase foxes to ground without killing the fox. Russell liked the tempered aggressiveness of the terrier that allowed it to pursue the fox directly into its hole. It was also important that it not kill the fox, which was considered un-sporting at the time.
That first Jack Russell terrier, from which all Jack Russell’s descend was named “Trump.”
So I was not surprised when I was watching “Washington Journal” the other morning, which is a call-in show where the callers are divided as either Republican or Democrat, and the topic was the impeachment of President Trump.
A caller on the Republican line called in and said he would “vote for my Jack Russell terrier before I’d vote for a Democrat.”
Maybe he’ll be there on Sunday.