By Ali, Mar 7 2014 04:24AM
The south is full of special dogs that are common in our shelters but virtually unknown in other areas of the country. When I moved to Alabama almost 9 years ago, I thought I knew a lot about dogs. I never expected to discover a whole other world of dogs, full of breeds I'd never seen!
In honor of these special dogs, I'll periodically profile them in Spotlight on Southern Dogs.
First up, the Feist. The Feist isn't a true breed of dog that you'll see at a dog show. Really, they're a group of similar looking dogs that have been crossbred from many types of hunting breeds to specialize in hunting small prey. To the untrained eye, a Feist would easily be mistaken for a Jack Russell mix. These small dogs are under 30 pounds with short coats and longer legs than a purebred Jack Russell. They're sometimes called "squirrel dogs". The popular AKC recognized Rat Terrier is thought to be a descendant of the Feist. For this reason, many southern shelter dogs are usually labelled as Jack Rusell or Rat Terrier when in reality, many are actually feists.
These dogs may be small but they're brave. This excerpt from this story from the mid 1800's highlights how a brave little feist can tree much more than squirrels... this one was treeing a panther!
"Father put a sack of shelled corn on our mare, tied to fast and I sat on the
middle of the sack. I called my feist dog to follow and we were off to the
mill. But when we came near White Rock the fiest suddenly met a big cat just
below the trail and barking furiously, scared if so badly that it climbed a
tree near the trail. The old mare was more frightened than the cat; she
whirled about and ran home with me. And to tell the truth I was not sorry
she did so.
Arriving at our home, I quickly told father about the big cat. He unloaded
the corn, took down his old flintlock rifle and followed the trail toward
White Rock where he found the brave little dog still barking at the panther
in the tree. It was easy for father to shoot the beast, which measured
eleven feet from tip to tip.
But I was too badly frightened to go to the mill that day."
Visit a shelter today to adopt one of these special dogs!