'Biscuit' pulls his weight in Six-Point Hunt Club

By Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondent

Biscuit, a Jack Russell Terrier, is a member in good standing of Castor's Six-Point Hunting Club. His owner, Bruce Lafitte, says that Biscuit pays his own dues. He makes his home in Shreveport with the Lafitte family and is used by members of the Six-Point during hunting season. " Thanks to Biscuit," Bruce said, " Deer shot and wounded are found, twelve last year and at least eleven this year."

"Biscuit is one of a kind," Bruce said, "as he stroked the animal sitting on his lap. "My family gave him to me for Christmas four years ago and we have developed a solid friendship. He loves being at the camp and joins in the activity with enthusiasm. He rides with me in the Side by Side and stays with me in my deer stand. He watches for deer from the window just like I do."

It was a Devon clergyman, the Reverend John Russell (1795-1883) who developed this small terrier. It stands about 12 inches high and has a wiry white coat, with some tan or black marking. Its jaws are very strong and its cheek muscles powerful to perform the work for which it was bred. Master of Foxhounds on Exmoor was the Rev. Russell's second occupation, and he developed the dog to run with the hounds and drive our foxes from holes, which the hounds were too large to penetrate.

Research sources say that the Fox terrier and Jack Russell terrier type dogs of today are all descended from dogs of that period. By the start of the 20th century the Fox terrier had altered more towards the modern breed, but in some parts of the country the old style of John Russell's terriers remained and it is from those dogs that the modern Jack Russell type descends. Ailsa Crawford, one of the first Jack Russell Terrier breeders in the United States, formed the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America in 1976. Due to their working nature, Jack Russell terriers remain much as they were some 200 years ago.

Originally bred to bolt fox from their dens during hunts, Jack Russells are first and foremost working terriers. "Biscuit was easy to train for the hunt," said Lafitte. "A wounded deer is very elusive and hard to find without help. Biscuit, following a blood trail, wears a bell on his collar in daylight or a blinking light at night. The hunter follows the sound and knows that when the bell gets quiet, the dog has found the deer. He doesn't bark unless the deer is still alive. The chase ends when we find the dog sitting on top of "his" deer growling at the hunters coming to take it away from him."