This is the story told by a young Rat Terrier...
I started out life on a small farm in the northeast United States.
I am a Rat Terrier and have a big job. Everyone calls me Beans 'tho I don't know why. Life at home was good. My mother was a little strict but I suppose I was, as you say, "A hand full."
My mom says that I am a chip off the old block. In other words I look like my Rat Terrier dad. By the time I was 9 months old I weighed about 20 pounds, mostly muscle. My mom says that most of the muscle is in my head, but that must mean I am really smart.
I have a smooth coat and...
I am colored mostly white with some black and tan spots, quite well appointed if you ask me. My ears stand straight up on top of my head and are quite attuned to the scurry of those little rat paws.
When I was a pup, but a few days old, my master docked my tail to about a third of its length. This keeps it out of the way of any varmint wanting a piece of me.
Unlike the Jack Russell Terrier which is fairly aggressive and some would say "hyper" I am the sole of calm. My bundle of muscle is relaxed and waiting for its' chance to spring into action. , but never mind, I am all Terrier. I am also good with children and no-one should ever raise a threatening hand to my charges.
As to my training,
you might say I was "born to it". There were plenty of rats around the barns and outbuildings that needed "huntin'." I was more than happy to oblige them. You might think that Rat Killing is not much of a sport and you would be right. While not going down holes like a Fox Terrier I am quick and can hold my own when it comes to keeping the barn free of pests. It is a noble profession. Rats do a farm no good at all and as long as there are rats there will be a need for a Rat Terrier.
A rat can ruin a bin of grain or eat the eggs right out of the nest before the farm-wife has a chance to collect them. I learned much later that it was rats, or at least the flees that traveled with them that brought the Plague. Sometimes known as the "Black Death," the plague was said to have killed every third man in the known world at the time of it's most gruesome spread.
And that's only the worst of the diseases that are spread by rats. All such diseases as Rat Bite Fever and more. So my job is no trifle. No romp in the fields. My dad and mom taught me well and folk from all over who have seen me work have said that I was a natural.
Rats are not the only "vermin"...
common in the country, oh no. In the west the fields sometimes seem to be overun by Jackrabbits. Since coyotes are hunted and trapped out there, the rabbits have no natural predators. My cousins on the western farms and ranches have their hands full keeping the population down. You might not not think it, due to my size but I am fast. Many years ago my forefathers were bred with whippets who can run like the wind.
In the south the land owners bred us with beagles to give us a tremendous "nose" for sniffing out our prey.
Although we are a fairly modern breed...
... we come from a long line of terrier dogs mostly from the UK. [the Old English White Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Bull Terrier, etc., and later crossed with Beagles, more Smooth Fox Terrier, Toy Fox Terriers, Whippets]
While many terriers like to hunt in holes and closed in places I must admit that is not my style. A Rat Terrier prefers to use his quickness, speed and brains. Once I have the scent of the varmint there is no stopping me. I prefer above ground and am much inclined to race after a critter where I can quickly dispatch my prey.
Back in the 1860s when the english countryside seemed to be overun by rats one of the greatest "Rat Catchers" plied his trade. His name was Jack Black and he was Rat Catcher and Mole Destroyer by appointment of Queen Victoria herself.
He is described as wearing a "self-made "uniform" of scarlet topcoat, waistcoat, and breeches, with a huge leather belt inset with cast-iron rats." Besides being one of the best rat catchers in history he was an accomplished dog breeder, of which he specialized in those terriers which he could train to hunt rats. It is said that most of the small Black and Tan terriers in London are related to his dogs.
So you can plainly see the history of the noble Rat Terrier is long and even though I am an American Terrier my line goes back to historic times. In this country there is even a special breed designated as the "Teddy Roosevelt Terrier" which is a type of Rat Terrier with shorter legs. Named for the president who favored them they are recognized by the UKC.