Saturday, January 21, 2017
A Mountain Feist named Dilly
This is a picture of my husband, Phil, and our dog, Dilly. She will be 3 in May. We bought her from an Amish farmer for $20.00 (Her adoption story, "Silly Dilly," was posted on 9-8-14.)
When we take her for walks, people often ask us what she is. We used to say we didn't know. Sometimes, to avoid getting into a discussion, I'd just say she was an Amish Akita. The response was usually a second look and a sage nod. Those with opinions often suggested "rat terrier with maybe some Jack Russell." Finally, someone who actually knew what he was talking about pronounced her "a mountain feist" without a moment's hesitation. He is Amish, too, or at least he was, having left his community, but he said the farmer who'd sold her was known for breeding and raising this type of dog.
So what's a "feist?" My dad used to call me "a feist" when I was kindergarten age, so I suppose, when it's human, it's something small and mischievous. The second time I encountered the word was in The Bear, a short novel by William Faulkner. Only Faulkner called it a "fice." George Washington had a feist and Abraham Lincoln mentioned the feist in a poem he wrote, according to Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article characterized the feist as a small hunting dog that originated in Appalachia. It trees its prey and its prey is the squirrel. That's Dilly. She rushes furiously out the door at the mere sight of a squirrel at the bird feeder, but she loses interest once the squirrel is high in the tree. This is probably not a good trait in a hunter. Dilly is protective of my husband and me, and slow to warm up to strangers. Once she decides you're all right, though, you've got a friend for life.
You can find out more about dogs like Dilly by checking out the "Mountain Feist Squirrel Dog" page on Facebook.