There are many animals and creatures that want and will take things apparently belonging to something or someone else – African lions and hyenas jostling for the kill achieved by the other, magpies stealing shiny things, and of course if we haven’t had another human steal something from us we are very lucky or more likely haven’t noticed.
Buster’s out – yard brushes beware!
My nephew once owned a very large Doberman Pinscher named Buster (of course). If he managed to escape from home, he would scour the neighbourhood looking for yard brushes – yes, a long-handled sweeping brush – and Buster would then happily return home with his prize brush.
There was a hope that Buster merely took the brushes that were leaning against a wall somewhere; but if he was also charging up and demanding the brush of some poor old dear busily sweeping her path, then there was a hope that it was given up without a fight. I never heard of any repercussions over this particular trait. We have to hope not. Buster has long gone, so the yard brushes of Huddersfield can lie safe in their beds now.
I recall another incident when a dog got itself into trouble. My good mate Irving (the one who introduced me to clay Pigeon shooting) and I would spend quite a lot of time drinking and shooting together in the late 60s. The drinking mainly took place in the pubs in Irvin’s village of New Mill, which we found to be an ideal place for this aspect of our time together; we somehow knew that shooting in pubs was frowned upon, so we limited that to the outdoors.
It wasn’t unusual to see farmers and hunter types entering country pubs with a gun case tucked under their arm, or even a gun on the wall along with the horse brasses as an ornament. They may have been fairly securely fastened but I can guarantee they would not have been de-commissioned, and the only reason that the gun was hanging on the wall in the first place was because it was more dangerous to the shooter than it was to anything in front of the gun.
Zip by name…
As well as clay pigeon shooting, Irving and I would attempt to keep down some of the pests in and around the farms of New Mill. Pigeons, rabbits, rats, foxes eat crops or would take hens often to a degree that significantly affected the farmers’ livelihoods, particularly on the small farms around New Mill, and local farmers were more than happy for someone like Irving and myself to help out in some small way.
Irving owned a bitch named Zip, and Zip by name … She was a Jack Russell and I once witnessed her killing four rats in as many seconds in a small farm outbuilding, flicking one into the air and catching another before the previous one landed.
I know many will find this distasteful, but some dogs are bred to carry out a certain task and witnessing these dogs doing what they were bred to do, doing it well and appearing very happy doing it is a joy (for want of a better word) to watch. In my humble opinion, enabling a well-trained dog to be happy doing what it does naturally should be the only reason to own a dog, and this of course includes companion dogs as well as working dogs.
But if anyone expects a Retriever or an Alsatian and many other similarly active dogs to be happy sitting by your side watching daytime television, then they have the wrong dog, again in my humble opinion, of course.
Zip gets rescued
Anyway, let’s get back to the story of how Zip got herself into trouble. Irving and I were out on the hill one summer evening when Zip – always the first to see any movement – spotted a rabbit. She chased the rabbit into the burrow and got stuck. Luckily the burrow went along a level field and not into a hillside and we could still hear Zip barking about ten feet in from the entrance. Trying to coax her out didn’t work and eventually we knew that digging was the only option.
I trotted down to the local farmstead to borrow a spade. It was I who did the trotting as Irving was not one to venture far past a brisk walk. However, Irving was happy to do the digging, which was something I was happy about as there was always a chance of hitting Zip with the spade. It was getting dark but a couple of hours after the initial chase Zip was recovered unharmed and went on to a happy and active old age, as did the rabbit presumably, the lucky bugger.
Catching things – not really the point
I used to smoke in those days, and I found sitting in the corner of a field quietly sucking on a pipe full of Golden Flake or a good aromatic Shag waiting for something to pop its head up to shoot at was extremely satisfying. Trying to keep our presence a secret from a wild animal while smoking a pipe was of course counterproductive, but it’s like fishing – catching a fish isn’t the entire point. Sat at the side of some water or in the corner of a field with your mate doing nothing and saying nothing while still having a great time is actually what it’s all about.
I hadn’t smoked for many years but during a rush of blood I persuaded my ex-pipe-smoking mate Graham to lend me a pipe full of baccy as a way of reminiscing, and very pleasant it was too. However, it took three days for the taste to go away.