Saturday, November 1, 2014

Willy the Treeing Feist

Let me introduce you to Willy, my Treeing Feist. I love my goofy puppy and he goes with me everywhere I am allowed to take him: local parks, beaches, and for rides in the Jeep.  Everywhere we go, people  tend to stare.  And the conversation goes something like this:

Willy at a local park with a small beach
"Pretty dog, what is it?" they ask after staring for a few moments.

"He's a Treeing Feist."

"A what?"

"A Treeing Feist."

They continue to look at us blankly.  So, I continue, "He's like a Rat Terrier."

The blank look usually continues, so I try to explain a little more.  Depending on their appearance I either say "He's like a Jack Russell" or I say, "He's a squirrel dog."  Urban folks here tend to know what a Jack Russell is and country folks appreciate a good squirrel dog.

At that point, I get a nod and smile and we continue on our merry ways.

I'm not annoyed by the questions or the stares. After all, I had never heard of Treeing Feists until about a year ago.  You see, a year ago we lost our beloved Daisy dog to a sudden illness. Daisy was a rat terrier and I am convinced she was the most amazing dog on the face of the earth.  I loved her so much that when I began content writing, one of my first articles was about Daisy and her dog toy recommendations.

When she passed away, I felt the house was too empty.  I felt too alone. Time passed and I wanted a dog but I couldn't bear to have another rat terrier that reminded me too much of her. I was watching the ads and doing some research. Daisy was a mini Rat Terrier, all of 8 pounds in size.  I started researching what they call Decker Rat Terriers. Which are, overly simplified, large Rat Terriers.  But they still hit too close to home for me.

In my searches, I learned about Treeing Feists.
  • Feists are a type of dog (rather than a particular breed) that are used to hunt rodents
  • Treeing Feists date back to the post-Columbus period in North America
  • Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and William Faulkner refer to Feists in their writing (historically sometimes spelled "foist" or "fyce")
  • Feists hunt above-ground game such as squirrels or raccoons. They track silently until the animal is treed (as opposed to dogs such as terriers and dachshunds that hunt animals that go underground or hounds that bay and bark while on the trail of their game)
  • Treeing Feists rarely kill their prey. Rather, they tree the squirrels and expect their owners to shoot them
  • Feists have been used for bear hunting or flushing flying or large game from the brush 
  • Feists are helpful farm dogs in many ways
  • Feists bond closely with their humans
  • Feists are very protective of their families
It was for these reasons, and because Willy looked me in the eye the entire time he ran gleefully around his yard when I went to look at him, that I decided to bring him home.  

Willy loves going bye-bye.
While less "whippet" in appearance than Type A Rat Terriers (which is what Daisy was) Treeing Feists have  similar build. The Feists I'm familiar with have long legs, weigh only up to 30 pounds, have small heads and pointy noses, and their ears can be erect, button, or slightly hanging. Feist dogs (along with Rat Terriers) can have long or docked tails.  The owner of Willy's parents stated that many of their pups are born with shorter tails.  Willy has a stubby tail.

I live in a urban apartment.  But I am often hiking and camping.  I need a small dog that is a good protector but not yappy.  I need a dog that is good in the woods or at the beach.  Most of all, I need a dog that will transition well to my off-grid land when I'm finally able to move to that mountain homestead I dream of.  While Willy is a bit more vocal than Daisy was (when people are making noise on the stairs or in the parking lot) he perfectly fits the bill as far as the kind of dog we need.

Willy is a high energy dog and needs plenty of exercise and stimulation. Like Daisy, we have to walk him often as well as play games like tug, fetch, and chase at least twice daily. Willy is the type of dog that could get himself into trouble if we didn't keep him busy.

Someday, he'll have a "sister" to play with.  We miss our Daisy desperately and expect that when the time is right, we will again have a Rat Terrier in the house.  Until then, Willy is our four-legged only child.

PAWSit Dog Blog Hop

Written by Dawn Rae
Disclaimer: In affiliation with and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster or Amazon products.


  1. What a lovely looking doggie :) - I'm not very familiar with dog breeds so this was quite educational for me - we have a Shih-Tzu (we adopted her at an older age, she's 12 now) - our first dog too, we love her! I can understand how much people miss their dogs now that we have one - Thinking about your daisy makes me think about my doggie too and am hoping she has a few more years ahead of her.

    1. I hope your dog has many healthy and happy years ahead. How wonderful for you to adopt an older dog. Many older dogs don't get that chance because people like me are too nervous about taking older dogs. I am so glad you gave her a forever home.

  2. He is a very pretty puppy! I don't believe I had ever heard of a Treeing Feist, although the "treeing" part is pretty self explanatory. Thank you for introducing me to Treeing Feists and certainly to your active companion, Willy.

    1. Thank you Mouse. I think he's gorgeous too but moms always think that about their babies.

  3. Such a fun way to both meet and learn about a Treeing Feist dog. Willy is a darling dog and you tell his story well. I enjoyed seeing pictures of Willy because I'd have no idea what a treeing feist looked like otherwise, never having heard the term. :)

  4. He's grown into a handsome dog! It's great that he has history and mystery. :-)

  5. What a charming companion Willy is. I certainly understand you missing Daisy and the open hole in your heart. Sounds like you made a fabulous find in Willy.

  6. I love the image of Willy at the water's edge, seemingly looking out at sea. There's a Feist at the shelter where I'm getting my hound dog and looks quite similar to your Will. Quite energetic, too!

    It is good that Willy will easily make the transition from city to country dog. I'm sure he'll enjoy it as much as you!