Untamed and Primal

Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

Warning:  weak stomachs should not read further.

Kate yelled, but I didn’t hear.  Rigel, let inside after breakfast and a morning’s romp in the woods, came in, lay down on our small oriental rug, and, as dogs sometimes do, threw up.  Gross, I know, but after a while with dogs, many dogs as we have had, this becomes part of the experience.

In this particular case however, it was not eaten grass or clumps of cloth (some dogs love to shred and eat cloth), but most of a recently ingested rabbit:  the head, a hind quarter and much of the softer parts.  Since none of breakfast came up with it, this was a post-breakfast hunt, likely followed by bolting because three other dogs Vega, Kona and Gertie wanted some, too.

Since we have about an acre and a half of woods with many brush piles, which we create intentionally for the purpose of harboring wildlife, our dogs always have hunting options, but we’ve not seem many offerings brought up on the deck in recent times.

Since our dogs are all sight hounds, or at least half sight hound coupled with half coon hound, they come equipped at birth with the instinct to hunt and kill on their own.  We’ve had various levels of skill among our dogs, but some have been exceptional.

Rigel is one.  Sortia, our Russian witch, a female Irish Wolfhound who weighed around 180 and was never fat, was and remains the champ.  She took down a deer by herself during an interlude at the breeders.  She brought us raccoon, ground hog, many rabbits and, to our chagrin, the occasional neighborhood cat who strayed foolishly over our fence.

The whippets are no slouches either.  Kona has killed many a rabbit, one time bringing a very fresh head and dropping it at the kitchen door.

Long ago I slipped over to the Farmer McGregor attitude toward rabbits so I have no problem with our dogs keeping the rabbit supply on the thin side.  They’re protecting our vegetable garden.  I imagine their presence also keeps out deer.

It’s not why we keep dogs, but it is a good side benefit.

All this hunting reminds us, too, that beneath the cheerful, loving persona our beloved dogs show to us, there is still within them an untamed and primal beast, a carnivore not really so far removed from the wolf.

Caution: Dangerous Rodent Ahead

Spring                                      Awakening Moon

We have an injured dog.  Hilo, our smallest whippet, and a friend for many years, got in a scrap with an animal, a squirrel or a rabbit, and got a nasty wound below her right lip and another, larger one underneath her jaw.  She didn’t come for quite a while yesterday, we thought she had escaped, but she finally came in the house.  It was only this morning that I noticed a swollenness to her jaw, a sack that looked like a double, maybe a triple chin.  Infected.

Kate took her to the vet where they drained the infection, debrided the wounds and sent her home with antibiotics.  She looks better now and was happy to go in her crate for the night.  A safe, familiar place.

Dogs have their good days and their bad days.  I think yesterday was a bad day for Hilo.

Yesterday afternoon, when I went out to finish the boarding up of the chain link fence, Rigel sat out near the back Norway pine, a small floppy ear and a front foot stuck out of her mouth as she made crunching noises chewing on what could only have been some small animal’s skull, most likely a rabbit, perhaps the one that wounded Hilo.  The reality of the natural order goes on every day on this property, dogs and small prey animals, bees protecting their hive, gophers digging through the lawn, hawks diving and killing small animals, humans eating pork and beef and god knows what else.

Our world has two lives, the one of artifice in which we humans take a shot at controlling the weather, food supply and safe drinking water while just outside the carapace of our homes, any home, anywhere, the world of violent struggle, a world without artifice, goes on about its traditional routines.