Posts Tagged ‘Raymond’

This image comes Raymond and Lorna Coppinger’s Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution (2001), a book with which I have more than a few disagreements.

Plummer, as you may already know, was the creator of the Plummer terrier, reconstructed coursing alaunt, and a variant of the Lucas terrier. He was a lurcher breeder, who once wrote a few paragraphs that slagged golden retriever-derived lurchers. Then he later extolled the virtues of golden retriever-derived lurchers.

In Coppinger’s book, after working his cavaliers on rabbits in Scotland, he puts his golden retriever through its paces. I guess as he aged he developed a fondness for them.

Lots can be said about him.

He was mostly a writer of dog and hunting stories, who did have a lot experience with lots of different dogs. But in his canine eclecticism, I think he may have missed many aspects about dogs, bloodlines, and  general canine knowledge that one can only get through dealing with just a few breeds.

Of course, I can see why he and the Coppingers hit it off so well. The Coppingers and Plummer kept vast hordes of dogs.

His last canine project was to breed a sled dog strain of German shepherd, which would pull a sled across the Scottish Highlands.

That’s what he was working on when he died in 1985.

Coppinger must have been in contact with him after he moved to Scotland, because the whole text about the rabbit killing cavaliers takes place in the Scottish countryside.

Plummer claimed he could train any dog to do anyhting– and Coppinger agreed but only to a certain degree. Coppinger is one of the biggest proponents of the hyperspecialized dog, and his views, which are expounded in the book, are that some of these hyperspecialized dogs are too specialized to do anything else.

Plummer, in this case, is closer to being right than Coppinger. Plummer did work as a gamekeeper in Germany, where the hunting dogs are simply not as specialized as they are in the English-speaking countries. These dogs are a major affront to Coppinger’s views on the hyperspecialized dog, for they can do many different things for which Coppinger thinks they would be unable to do.

A golden retriever might not win a border collie trial, but a border collie could do what a golden retriever does. A German shorthair can point birds, and it can kill rabbits and track boar.

Dogs are not as specialized as one might think.

They derive from highly generalized ancestors, and they’ve hitched their wagons to humans– the most generalist species on the planet.




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