Dig Deep, Throw Well Back

Dig Deep, Throw Well Back is a very nice book full of well-written terrier tales told by Jonathan Darcy and several of his digging pals.

Described by some as a picture book, it is in fact, a book of working terrier stories and short essays illustrated with very good photos of dogs and digs.

While a few of the pictures are truly terrific, the stories are the real substance, and they make a valuable contribution because they capture the full arc of terrier work, from dirt and drain to rock and bale, from countryside to suburbia, from deep digs to shallow pipes lying just below the boot.

There is no false machismo or trumped up stories here -- just the reality of working dogs in the real world. Darcy laughs at his inability to keep up with some Irish boys and their dogs, and he mocks himself for being too-clever-by-half in the making of his first home-made nets. A lost shovel is eulogized -- an odd thing to those who do not dig, but well understood by those that do.

Not all of the digs are so deep that Chinese chanters can be heard at the bottom of the pit, nor are mythical dogs the order of the day. Instead we hear the real deal -- of collars that go dead in the hole, and of a young terrierman eager to keep his single one-eyed dog healthy enough to work the next weekend. Darcy's account of being frozen to the bone while waiting for a dog to leave an undiggable stop-end will get knowing nods from those that have been there, as will his surprise at the complexity of some "easy earths".

Without lecture Darcy makes the case for thinking terrier work. Poultry- raiders are done away with without apology, but large healthy fox, free of mange, are also released to spread their good genes in the countryside. Darcy and friends realize that the goal is not to bleed the land white by killing everything in sight, but to control fox numbers so that the hunt can be carried on in perpetuity. A dead fox cannot be hunted again, nor can those dens trenched by hooligans with over-large dogs.

This is a fine book and a welcome addition to the world of working terriers.

"Dig Deep, Throw Well Back"

can be ordered from Coch-y-Bonddu Books at