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Characteristics of Feists: The Adventures of One Special Feist

Updated on December 2, 2015

First Meeting

“That’s the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen!” My cousin turned to me as though she expected me to agree with her.
“He’s beautiful to me,” I replied. But I wasn’t offended by the comment. From the first day my little speckled friend made his home with me, everyone who saw him described him as either fine looking or hideously unattractive. A few labeled him weird. I loved him.

The first time I saw Speck, he had just arrived at my daughter’s house in the delivery van of the local florist. He had apparently hopped into the front seat of the van when the driver wasn’t looking and refused to get out. When the delivery man handed my daughter’s birthday roses to her, she opened her arms and Speck leaped at her---and into all our hearts. The little bob-tail dog was home. My son-in-law had other ideas. “Amy,” he insisted, we’ve already got two dogs and a cat. No more animals!” he said sternly.

The little speckled dog turned to me with inquisitive brown eyes. “Okay, fellow, come on,” I said as I plopped him on the front seat beside me. From then on, my buddy went with me everywhere.

Guessing Speck’s breed got to be a game with visitors. Finally, someone told me to research the Feist, a breed about which I knew nothing. As I read about this breed, I learned that it’s not really a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club but a mixture of terriers, bred for hunting----especially squirrels. It has several characteristics that loosely define the Feist.

Characteristics of the Feist

· The Feist is an offshoot of the terrior and was probably used first in England by working class miners and field workers.

· This breed originated in the United States in the Southern states primarily for hunting.

· The Feist is not recognized by the American Kennel Club as a breed but is recognized by the United Kennel Club (Great Britain).

· This breed has few defining physical characteristics other than small: 20-30 pounds, spotted: black and brown on white. It is sometimes born with a bob tail.

· The Feist is defined more by its hunting style than by physical characteristics.

· This breed stalks its prey silently instead of the loud barking of the hound.

· Speed and agility are possessed in abundance by these little dogs.

· Regular exercise is a must for the Feist---it possesses an abundance of energy.

The Peanut Mill

Speck had two behavior traits that dominated much of his everyday life. The first was his love for exercise---running as fast as he could----and the other was his penchant for riding in the front seat of any van or truck that happened to stop long enough for him to hop inside. This second trait defined Speck’s personality more than ever.

Besides the flower delivery, Speck found another place for truck rides. On weekdays, he somehow managed to climb over the wire fence at the back of our yard and take off running through a pecan grove toward the nearby peanut mill about a mile away. There he would stay until time for me to come home---he usually greeted me on the front porch around 4 o’clock.One afternoon I arrived home and didn’t find Speck in his usual spot on the porch. I knew where to find him. At the peanut mill, I looked everywhere with no luck. I started to leave when a worker pointed upward toward the cab of an eighteen wheeler. High in the cab on the passenger seat sat Speck, proudly erect as though his role was crucial for the operation of the mill.

The driver dumped his last load of peanuts and unlatched the cab door. Speck leaped into my waiting arms. For his remaining years most days during peanut season found Speck at the mill. He answered to the workers’ name for him: “Peanut,” and stayed close by, eating peanuts, waiting for someone to open a truck door.

Speck and the Dogcatcher

The other memorable ride for Speck took place on a warm spring day. The dog catcher had been in the neighborhood all morning. Since the town was rather small, he knew Speck well. He put the little dog out near our house and insisted, “Go home, Speck. Go home.” But Speck refused to budge. As soon as the he opened the truck door, Speck hopped into the front seat beside the dog catcher and rode around with him while he picked up dogs all over town. I had no idea as to Speck’s whereabouts. The next morning my doorbell rang. I opened the front door to find Speck in dog catcher’s arms, tired but happy after his new ride.

Feists as Pets


Speck lived out his days chasing squirrels, helping the workers at the peanut mill, and playing with everyone who came to our house. Not every Feist has a fondness for taking rides with every strange truck that stops. But most Feists are friendly, lovable dogs. If you’re thinking about getting one, be sure you have the energy and patience to keep pace with their creative minds and active bodies.

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