Great Dog Sell
by Jonathan F.
A great many dogmas have been written, and may continue to be
written, on dogs. Confessing, once, to a dogmatical regard for dogs, we
went in for the canine race, with a zeal we have bravely outgrown;
and we live to wonder how mento say nothing of spinsters of an
uncertain agecan heap money and affections upon these four-legged
brutes, whose sole utility is to doze in the corner or kennel, terrify
stray children, annoy horsemen, and keep wholesome meat from the
stomachs of many a poor, starving beggar at your back gate. There is no
use for dogs in the city, and precious little use for them any
where else; and as Boz says of oystersyou always find a
preponderance of dogs where you find the most poor people.
Philadelphia's the place for dogs; in the suburbs, especially after
night, if you escape from the onslaught of the rowdies, you will find
the dogs a still greater and more atrocious nuisance. No rowdy, or
gentleman at large, in the Quaker City, feels finished,
without a lean, lank, hollow dog trotting along at their heels; while
the butchers and horse-dealers revel in a profusion of mastiffs and
dastardly curs, perfectly astoundingto us. This brings us to a short
and rather pithy story of a dog sell.
Some years ago, a knot of men about town, gentlemen highly posted
up on dogs, and who could talk hoss and dog equal to a Lord
Bentick, or Hiram Woodruff, or Acorn, or Col. Bill Porter, of the
Spirit, were congregated in a famous resort, a place known as
Hollahan's. A dog-fight that afternoon, under the Linden trees,
in front of the State House, gave rise to a spirited debate upon the
result of the battle, and the respective merits of the two dogs. Words
waxed warm, and the disputants grew boisterously eloquent upon dogs of
high and low degree,dogs they had read of, and dogs they had seen;
and, in fact, we much doubt, if ever before or sincethis side of
Seven Dials or St. Giles', there was a more thorough and animated
discussion, on dogs, witnessed.
An old and rusty codger, one whose outward bruises might have led a
disciple of Paley to imagine they had caused a secret enjoyment
within, sat back in the nearest corner, towards the stove, a most
attentive auditor to the thrilling debate. Between his outspread feet,
a dog was coiled up, the only indifferent individual present,
apparently unconcerned upon the subject.
Look here, says the old codger, tossing one leg over t'other, and
taking an easy and convenient attitude of observation; look here,
boys, you're talkin' about dogs!
Dogs? says one of the most prominent speakers.
Dogs, echoes the old one.
Why, yes, daddy, we are talking about dogs.
What do you know about dogs? says a full-blown Jakey, looking sharply at the old fellow.
Know about dogs?
A' yes-s, says Jakey. I bet dis five dollars, ole feller,
you don't know a Spaniel from a butcher's cur!
Well, responds the old one, transposing his legs, may be I
don't, but it's my 'pinion you'd make a sorry fiste
at best, if you had tail and ears a little longer!
This sally amused all but the young gentleman who run wid de
machine, and attracted general attention towards the old man, in whose
eyes and wrinkles lurked a goodly share of mother wit and shrewdness.
Jakey backing down, another of the by-standers put in.
Poppy, I expect you know what a good dog is?
I reckon, boys, I orter. But I'm plaguy dry listening to your dog
What'll you drink, daddy? said half a dozen of the dog fanciers,
thinking to wet the old man's whistle to get some fun out of him.
What'll you drink?come up, daddy.
Sperrets, boys, good old sperrets, and the old codger drank; then
giving his lips a wipe with the back of his hand, and drawing out a
long, deep ah-h-h-h! he again took his seat, observing, as he
partially aroused his ugly and cross-grained mongrel
Here's a dog, boys.
That your dog, dad? asked several.
That's my dog, boys. He is a dog.
Ain't he, tho'? jocularly responded the dog men.
What breed, daddy, do you call that dog of yours? asked one.
Breed? He ain't any breed, he ain't. Stand up, Barney,
(jerking up the sneaking-looking thing.) He's no breed, boys; look at
himsee his tushes; growl, Barney, growl!Ain't them tushes, boys?
He's no breed, boys; he's original stock!
Well, so I was going to say, says one.
That dog, says another, must be valuable.
Waluable? re-echoes the old man; he is all that, boys; I wouldn't
sell him; but, boys, I'm dry, dry as a powder hornso much talkin'
makes one dry.
Well, come up, poppy; what'll you take? said the boys.
Sperrets, boys; good old sperrets. I do like good sperrets, boys,
and that sperrets, Mister (to the ruffled-bosomed bar-keeper), o'
your'n is like my dogcan't be beat!
Well, daddy, continued the dog men, where'd you get your dog?
That dog, said the old fellow, again giving his mouth a
back-hander, and his ah-h-h! accompaniment; well, I'll tell you,
boys, all about it.
Do, poppy, that's right; now, tell us all about it, they cried.
Well, boys, 'd any you know Ben. McConachy, out here at the Risin'
We've heard of him, daddygo on, says they.
Well, I worked for Ben. McConachy, one winter; he was a pizen mean
man, but his wifewasn't she mean? Why, boys, she'd spread all the
bread with butter afore we sat down to breakfast; she'd begin with a
quarter pound of butter, and when she'd got through, she had twice as
But how about the dog, daddy? Come, tell us about your dog.
Well, yes, I'll tell you, boys. You see, Ben. McConachy owned this
dog; set up, Barneylook at his ears, boysgreat, ain't they? Well,
Ben's wife was meanmeaner than pizen. She hated this dog; she hated
any thing that et; she considered any body, except her and her
daughter (a pizen ugly gal), that et three pieces of bread and two cups
of coffee at a meal, awful!
Blow the old woman; tell us about the dog, poppy, said
Now, I'm coming to the pintbut, Lord! boys, I never was so dry in
my life. I am dryplaguy dry, said the old one.
Well, daddy, step up and take something; come, said the dog men;
now let her slide. How about the dog?
Ah-h-h-h! that's great sperrets, boys. Mister (to the bar-keeper),
I don't find such sperrets as that often. Well, boys, as you're
anxious to hear about the dog, I'll tell you all about him. You see,
the old woman and Ben. was allers spatten 'bout one thing or t'other,
and 'specially about this dog. So one day Ben. McConachy hears a feller
wanted to buy a good dog, down to the drove yard, and he takes
Barneystand up, Barneysee that, boys; how quick he minds! Great
dog, he is. Well, Ben. takes Barney, and down he goes to the drove
yard. He met the feller; the feller looked at the dog; he saw
Barney was a doghe looked at him, asked how old he was; if
that was all the dog Ben. owned, and he seemed to like the dogbut,
boys, I'm gittin' dryrotted dry
Go on, tell us all about the dog, then we'll drink, says the boys.
'Well,' says Ben. McConachy to the feller, 'now, make us an offer
for him.' Now, what do you suppose, boys, that feller's first offer
The boys couldn't guess it; they guessed and guessed; some one
price, some another, all the way from five to fifty dollarsthe old
fellow continuing to say No, until they gave it up.
Well, boys, I'll tell youthat feller, after looking and looking
at Ben. McConachy's dog, tail to snout, half an hourdidn't offer a
red cent for him! Ben. come home in disgust and give the dog to
methere he is. Now, boys, we'll have that sperrets.
But on looking around, the boys had cut the pitmizzled!