Richard Reynolds – Rat Hunter of Manhattan
Richard Reynolds joins me for part two of our conversation. This time we’re talking rat hunting with Terriers in New York City.
[caption id="attachment_8391" align="alignleft" width="224"] Richard Reynolds with a Jagd Terrier, shown in FSS at Open Shows.[/caption]
“Quite fairly there was never a transition (from hounds to terriers),” Reynolds said. “I was always interested in hunting the terriers. We don't have as many Fox in the United States as they do in England … and you had to work a little harder. Bringing up the terriers and putting the terriers to ground was always a part of our Fox hunt.
“When I left the pack, I wanted a purebred terrier that I could show. Somebody slipped me into a low mileage used Norfolk terrier and that suited me pretty good. But I didn't know whether it could hunt or not. A few years later and a little experience and a few Norfolks later, we proved they were damn good hunters. In fact, the best terrier that I've ever had to this day remains one particular Norfolk.”
Reynolds’ rise to fame as the Rat Hunter of Manhattan started at a dog show in Liberty Park at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Rats had overrun one of the handlers’ setups and he turned his Norfolk loose to do its job. The park superintendent happened to see this feat. The rest, as they say, is history.
[caption id="attachment_8390" align="alignright" width="240"] Jagd Terrier with Reynolds and one less rat on the streets of Manhattan.[/caption]
“If I tell you that my dog is a good rat catcher, you won't care,” Reynolds opined. “If a rat is headed to run up your pant leg and my dog stops it, you'll have a lot of respect for that fuzzy little critter down there. So that's exactly the way we're trying to make our point.
“We’re all about an idea. That idea is preserving breed type through maintaining the actual function of the dog. You can simulate all these things but you can't replicate the actual deed of hunting or ratting or whatever. It's different. It's about the dogs but don't tell anybody because we get an awful lot of good press on the fact that we're killing rats.
“We can't show purebred dogs to the media. They don't care. Dead rats are a big seller. We have media with us (nearly) every night that we go out. We've had a lot of media. But that's our little way of selling purebred dogs to the public.
“We're doing it for the sake of the dogs. There's no money here. All sport is ruined as soon as you monetize it. So we don't charge to hunt. Our members occasionally cough up $5 each time they hunt, but more often than not they forget to pay it and we forget to collect it. So it's kind of a thing for the dogs, by the dogs and of the dogs. A good night is when the dogs work well together. A bad night is when we don't get anything.”
Reynolds has been instrumental in setting up a training ground in southern New Jersey. The primary purpose of which is running AKC earthdog tests.
“We use it as a basic training ground for terriers and dachshunds,” Reynolds noted. “It's not the same thing (as street hunting). Once they get through the earth dog program there's a lot of on the job training but it's a starting point. The sport of AKC earthdog or den trials or Jack Russell terrier Association go to ground is kind of diminished in recent years. We use it for training Street dogs but really what we're trying to do is rejuvenate this sport in and of itself of earth dogs and den trials.”