Letters to Editor

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“I wish to communicate to you a curious case of an inherited mental peculiarity. I possess an English mastiff, by name Kepler, a son of the celebrated Turk out of Venus. I brought the dog, when six weeks old, from the stable in which he was born. The first time I took him out he started back in alarm at the first butcher's shop he had ever seen. I soon found he had a violent antipathy to butchers and butchers' shops. When six months old, a servant took him with her on an errand. At a short distance before coming to the house, she had to pass a butcher's shop; the dog threw himself down (being led with a string), and neither coaxing nor threats would make him pass the shop. The dog was too heavy to be carried; and as a crowd collected, the servant had to return with the dog more than a mile, and then go without him. This occurred about two years ago. The antipathy still continues, but the dog will pass nearer to a shop than he formerly would. About two months ago, in a little book on dogs published by Dean, I discovered that the same strange antipathy is shown by the father, Turk. I then wrote to Mr. Nichols, the former owner of Turk, to ask him for any information he might have on the point. He replied—‘I can say that the same antipathy exists in King, the sire of Turk, in Turk, in Punch (son of Turk, out of Meg) and in Paris (son of Turk, out of Juno). Paris has the greatest antipathy, as he would hardly go into a street where a butcher's shop is, and would run away after passing it. When a cart with a butcher's man came into the place where the dogs were kept, although they could not see him, they all were ready to break their chains. A master-butcher, dressed privately, called one evening on Paris's master to see the dog. He had hardly entered the house before the dog (though shut in) was so much excited that he had to be put into a shed, and the butcher was forced to leave without seeing the dog. The same dog at Hastings made a spring at a gentleman who came into the hotel. The owner caught the dog and apologised, and said he never knew him to do so before, except when a butcher came to his house. The gentleman at once said that was his business. So you see that they inherit these antipathies, and show a great deal of breed.’

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HUGGINS, W. Letters to Editor. Nature 7, 281–282 (1873) doi:10.1038/007281c0

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