I was born in Derbyshire in 1950 and worked on farms from a very young age. At the age of thirteen I dug my first badger and two weeks later my first fox. All done with a couple of small Jack Russells from the farm where I was working. We had an interesting few years them and me! It wasn’t until ten years later that I began really serious terrier work and was asked to turn to professional terrierman for Meynell and South Staffs Foxhounds. I remained in that job for 32 seasons.
I have had in the past a couple of good Lakelands and I have always had the odd Border, bred down from my old star Bear. But, the Jack Russell Terrier has always totally dominated my kennels and I consider it the most unique and versatile working dog in the world.
I like a clever terrier, no matter what his job is, courage is a must but it is useless without cleverness. A good, rocksteady, reliable worker that can combine bravery with brains is a joy to behold and should be treasured above all else!
The bloodline of my terriers is mainly based on a dog called Rastus. He was born in the Meynell Hunt Kennels and his dam went back to South Staffs Hunt Terriers, whilst his sire was almost all Meynell blood. I can trace his breeding back over 95 years. He was a phenomenal terrier and he changed my life. He was a good looking dog and very well put together. He had an incredible passion for work and the tougher the job the more he loved it. He gave me many years of loyal service, but in the end his love of the job cost him his life.
Over the years I have, a very few times, introduced other Jack Russell Bloodlines. I have chosen outside stud dogs very carefully and only used them after a lot of thought. Now, I find I can produce a few hard ones with the bone to match. Some on the other hand are much smaller and more refined, most are somewhere in between and they like to get up close and personal. All in all, I am very happy with my terriers and I have been for many years. They have served me well and fulfilled my dreams.
I met Anu in October 1995 in Finland when I was judging the Finnish Clubs first show. She was there to show her terrier and came to talk to me because she was interested in buying another one. The following summer she came to Aston Heath and couple of days later flew back home with a very nice bitch, Meynell Tizer. Six months later she bought a very promising young stud dog, Meynell Tuff, and soon after that bred her first litter. She didn’t just show her terriers in Finland but also in Sweden, winning several shows there also. Whilst living in Finland, Anu was able to work her terriers almost every weekend. Anu moved here with her Terriers in June 2000 and became my constant hunting companion and more than a few Meynell foxes got to know her terriers personally.
As a co writer of the JRTCGB Breed Standard back in 1974 I firmly believe that any Jack Russell Terrier that generally conforms to the Breed Standard will be ideally built for the job it was originally developed for, namely working to underground quarry.
The breed standard is a description of the conformation of the ideal Jack Russell and should be used as such.
There is so much more the working Jack Russell Terrier. A good nose (ability to hunt by scent) is essential, a good steady temperament is also desirable but also the ability “to light up” and give the extra mile when the situation demands. Courage when facing the odds of a larger quarry than itself. Cleverness, in knowing when to give a little in order to gain a lot. This comes with experience and a bond of trust between terriers and those that work them on a regular basis.
Working terriers to ground in the tradition way, here in the country of origin, has over recent years become very difficult to achieve compared to when I was a younger man. Incredible when you take into consideration that most other countries in the EU that are not so steeped in the tradition of pursuing underground quarry, openly encourage it with closed seasons etc.