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Concerning a Dog-Fight
by [?]

Dog-fighting as a sport is not much in vogue now-a-days. To begin with it is illegal. Not that THAT matters much, for Sunday drinking is also illegal. But dog-fighting is one of the cruel sports which the community has decided to put down with all the force of public opinion. Nevertheless, a certain amount of it is still carried on near Sydney, and very neatly and scientifically carried on, too — principally by gentlemen who live out Botany way and do not care for public opinion.

The grey dawn was just breaking over Botany when we got to the meeting-place. Away to the East the stars were paling in the faint flush of coming dawn, and over the sandhills came the boom of breakers. It was Sunday morning, and all the respectable, non-dog-fighting population of that odoriferous suburb were sleeping their heavy, Sunday-morning sleep. Some few people, however, were astir. In the dim light hurried pedestrians plodded along the heavy road towards the sandhills. Now and then a van, laden with ten or eleven of “the talent”, and drawn by a horse that cost fifteen shillings at auction, rolled softly along in the same direction. These were dog-fighters who had got “the office”, and knew exactly where the match was to take place.

The “meet” was on a main road, about half-a-mile from town; here some two hundred people had assembled, and hung up their horses and vehicles to the fence without the slightest concealment. They said the police would not interfere with them — and they did not seem a nice crowd to interfere with.

One dog was on the ground when we arrived, having come out in a hansom cab with his trainer. He was a white bull-terrier, weighing about forty pounds, “trained to the hour”, with the muscles standing out all over him. He waited in the cab, licking his trainer’s face at intervals to reassure that individual of his protection and support; the rest of the time he glowered out of the cab and eyed the public scornfully. He knew as well as any human being that there was sport afoot, and looked about eagerly and wickedly to see what he could get his teeth into.

Soon a messenger came running up to know whether they meant to sit in the cab till the police came; the other dog, he said, had arrived and all was ready. The trainer and dog got out of the cab; we followed them through a fence and over a rise — and there, about twenty yards from the main road, was a neatly-pitched enclosure like a prize-ring, a thirty-foot-square enclosure formed with stakes and ropes. About a hundred people were at the ringside, and in the far corner, in the arms of his trainer, was the other dog — a brindle.

It was wonderful to see the two dogs when they caught sight of each other. The white dog came up to the ring straining at his leash, nearly dragging his trainer off his feet in his efforts to get at the enemy. At intervals he emitted a hoarse roar of challenge and defiance.

The brindled dog never uttered a sound. He fixed his eyes on his adversary with a look of intense hunger, of absolute yearning for combat. He never for an instant shifted his unwinking gaze. He seemed like an animal who saw the hopes of years about to be realised. With painful earnestness he watched every detail of the other dog’s toilet; and while the white dog was making fierce efforts to get at him, he stood Napoleonic, grand in his courage, waiting for the fray.

All details were carefully attended to, and all rules strictly observed. People may think a dog-fight is a go-as-you-please outbreak of lawlessness, but there are rules and regulations — simple, but effective. There were two umpires, a referee, a timekeeper, and two seconds for each dog. The stakes were said to be ten pounds a-side. After some talk, the dogs were carried to the centre of the ring by their seconds and put on the ground. Like a flash of lightning they dashed at each other, and the fight began.