Tuesday, January 29, 2008

PSA: Jack Russell Terriers are Not Purse Dogs


I'm going to stray from books for a moment to post about something that's been bothering me.

If you frequent gossip blogs or read tabloid magazines, you've probably seen pictures of Mariah Carey walking around with her Jack Russell Terrier (also known as know at Parson Russell Terriers), Jack. Jack is adorable. He wears cute outfits. He's been seen about town in the same way that a lot of celebs use little dogs: as accessories.

I'm not making any kind of assumptions about how Carey treats her dog. But I want to say that if you're thinking of getting a JRT based on the cute factor, that you consider one thing:

Jack Russell Terriers are crazy.

Now, hold on just a second before calling PETA. As I've written about before, I have a Jack Russell Terrier, a six year old gal named Emily. I love her dearly. She is -- obviously -- the prettiest girl in the whole wide world. Even so, she can be a difficult dog.

Jack Russell Terriers are very hyper. They like to bark. They like to chase. They like to jump. They don't always get along with other dogs (which is why Emily was in the shelter where I found her), and they require a lot of exercise and play. I don't know if I could have a Jack Russell Terrier if I didn't work at home and was able to walk her often, and even then, I sometimes think about hiring a part time dog walker so that someone else can help Emily expend her energy while I work.

Anyone who has a Jack knows this. But since Jacks are cute, they're frequently used in commercials and on TV. Eddie from Fraiser is the most obvious example. During one walk this summer, a batch of people screamed "Eddie!" to me and Emily as we walked by their house.

Even though she does sort of look like him, she doesn't act like him. He was an impeccably trained acting dog. Not all of us can train a dog, especially a strong willed dog, like that, and a lot of people who buy one thinking they're getting an Eddie are sorely disappointed, which is one of the reasons Jacks end up in shelters.

So if you're looking at a Jack Russell and thinking of getting one because he or she is cute -- heck, ANY dog that you see on TV and think might be a good dog for you -- I implore you to read up on the breed at the American Kennel Club. Here's the direct link for JRTs.

I would never discourage someone from getting a JRT. But, like picking any breed of animal, please do a lot of research and talk to a vet to figure out if that breed is going to fit into your lifestyle. While I could fit Emily into a purse, she's much happier walking by my side and has much more energy than my brother's 100 pound dog.

Don't believe me? Here's a video of Emily trying to get to a cat that was on the other side of that glass door (and, yes, I realize that it's facing the wrong way, but this was taken just when youtube started to be used by my grandparents).

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