Living with a Manchester Terrier
A lot of folks ask me what it’s like living with a Manchester Terrier. My experience with MT’s spans 15 years...long enough I guess to identify some common behaviors.
MT’s are extremely curious but self-preserving animals developed from necessity as a ratter. So there’s a certain protocol that must be met when being introduced to an MT. Books on the breed call it “discerning”. I’ve heard “snobby” used but I think discerning is a better description because once an MT decides (and this always his decision) that you are a potential warm lap, he will follow you everywhere.
First meeting an MT generally evokes copious vocalizations (barking). Whether this continues for any period of time will depend on the availability of something useful such as a treat or a toy. Then proper introductions can begin. MT’s need to watch you and sniff you before you are allowed to touch. MT’s do not usually let strangers touch their ears or head. Too bad, as they have such soft ears. However, give him the requisite 15 minutes of observation and the occasional treat, and he’ll be demanding that you scratch his ears.
MT’s are keenly observant. Not only do they watch everything going on around them, but they remember most of what they observe. And will put it to good use when it suits them. My first Manchester never forgot where he left his Kong toy. Every morning on cue, he goes gets his “cookie ball” and brought it to me, put it in my hand and waited patiently for his stuffed ball to be returned. My younger MT followed behind and cleaned up the crumbs. This occupied them for 10-20 minutes…just long enough to take my morning shower.
MT’s are active dogs, and their curiosity and insatiable desire to play keeps them moving. They will stick their head into anywhere it will fit, and if they find something therein, well, the game is on. Favorites are “I have your hairbrush, so catch me if you can”, “shred the newspaper” and “death-shake the sock”. All these activities derive from their ratter heritage, but when transferred to everyday objects, become far better entertainment than your average TV reality show.
In fact, MT’s do extremely well at all kinds of competitive games like agility and fly ball. They are fast and unbelievably agile. If they are focused on their activity, they excel at it. The key word is focused. Keep it fun and fast and they have a ball. Some MT’s do very well in obedience. They learn quickly but also easily become bored and start making their own fun.
MT’s do stop to rest, and will sleep a lot of hours in a day. My guys doze contently in their kennels while I’m at work, and are bouncing with anticipation when they hear the key in door. MT’s love curling up in dark enclosed spaces with lots of fuzzy blankets and their favorite toy. If given the opportunity, they will bury themselves in your bedcovers, and sleep curled up against you all night. Two or more MT’s in a chair or sofa will invariably be piled up on top of each other, content in the warmth and companionship from each other. And if you are so fortunate to be sitting in the same chair, they will be piled on top of you.
Manchesters expect to be with their family at all times, and do poorly when isolated or kept in a kennel. The happiest Manchesters live with folks that also expect their dogs to be with them most of the time. I can’t imagine my life without them.