Return From The Wild by John Roberts Warren (Michael Butterworth, 2012, 306pp, £9.99)
As a youth in the 1950’s, John Warren adopted a puppy born to a collie dog that had gone wild before being shot for sheep-killing. The puppy had been dug out of a fox earth after its mother was shot. John named the red-coated puppy Lassie. The pup turned out to be very wild and unapproachable, but John was determined to keep her on the farm, and was allowed to do so because Lassie did not harm any of the livestock (apart from one gander) and proved her worth as a working dog on more than one occasion, becoming for instance an expert rat-killer.
John became strongly attached to his dog and determined not to let her return to the wild.
Various experts came to look at Lassie, and there was much dispute about whether she was a fox-dog cross. On one hand, this was thought to be impossible, but on the other hand Lassie looked like a fox and behaved like a wild animal.
Some years later, Lassie ran off and gave birth to two fox-coloured pups, which turned out to be much more tameable.
Because of Lassie’s wild nature, John never allowed her to be subjected to the trauma of a DNA test, but a good case is made in the book for Lassie being a fox-dog hybrid. These days scientists should be able to get the DNA from a few dog hairs but not then, I suppose.
The book is illustrated with drawings by wildlife artist Philip Snow.
The glimpses of country life in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and of Warren’s own life, are interesting.
Return From The Wild should be of particular interest to people interested in dogs, country life or social history.
It can be ordered via booksellers or direct from the publisher: