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Hill Country Living

Diet For ‘Tiger’ Included Corn Mush, A Few Veggies And Occasional Raw Meat


It’s a Wagner Week and here’s a letter from when John Henry decides to get into raising Mastiffs. He also gets into raising fancy chickens at some point, too. John is continually writing letters to these breeders complaining about the animals they send him. He’s never satisfied and the breeders eventually get frustrated with him. 

It’s all so funny to me because it takes up so much of his time and none of it matters. It’s his hobby, so I guess it matters in that sense but if your hobby just makes you angry then you might want to take up knitting.

Also, this is a very well-fed dog! This is also the only letter in which I have seen the words “ha ha” spelled out in indicate laughter. Every time I study these letters I really have to consider the context or character of the writer to determine whether they’re being funny on purpose or not. This single use of “ha ha” was interesting to me because I’m a nerd.

American Express Company

November 26th, 1884


To Mr. John H. Wagner

Water Valley Miss


My Dear Sir:

As per request my letter of yesterday by to says express I send you the English Mastiff puppy “Tiger.” He is certainly a large fellow for his age & will grow into a big dog, it takes time until about 2 years old to get his full growth. I see he is now quite poor, he should carry at least 25lbs more of flesh on his bones when he would look more as he should. I had not noticed him lately & see he has fallen off consequent on having a diet given to my breeding ones to reduce their flesh before whelping. He is large boned & loose jointed now on account of growing so very rapidly of late and will be so far some time yet until he gets through growing. 

He will doubtless be somewhat sore and stiff after his long ride in the crate but will be all right in a few days. I would wash him thoroughly in a tub of water. Washing soap all out after being applied which will reduce any offensive door he might have after being in a box so long and which would not disappear for some time unless washed with soap and water. He has a grand disposition and at the same time will make a noble and intelligent watch dog. No sound passes his ear. 

As to his feed, I feed mine mostly on corn mush cooked in a kettle with meal and meat scraps. Also some vegetable. I have a large steam cooler and cook a bbl [?] full at a time. You will not need hardly as much at a time ha ha. But a very convenient way is to have a kettle put on just an ordinary sized stove kettle, fill half full water ( I generally put in some kind of vegetables in mind which keeps bowels right but still this is not necessary) but if you have some out in a piece of cabbage or 3 or 4 potatoes or a large beer cut up, then put in some scraps of meat that have more or less fat on them or part of beef liver, cook this until done. Then stir in meal making a stiff mush, you will find he will keep fat on this diet. Too fat almost, if you do not feed him too much fresh meat. If you do feed him considerable fresh meat he will leave the above mess and will look thin and poor all the time unless he should have all the fresh meat he wished all the time which is rather expensive and no better than the diet first laid down. However your bankers do not generally care much for the expenses so you can suit yourself. 

I should anyway give him a little raw meat 2 or 3 times a week. He was sired by “Bishop” and is subject to registry. Wish you success with him.

I am, most respectfully yours,

W. E. Walden

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