Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twas the Day After Christmas

Five years ago today (2005), the day after Christmas, Stephen and I took our greyhounds to a private property hiking spot we have permission to use. At the time, I had Katie, Travis, and Teresa and my husband had his three, Stacker, Allie, and Julie. The area is mostly wooded
with trails winding around the trees, through the creeks, and down to a lake. The hounds enjoy chasing errant squirrels who quickly escape into the trees.

Katie was especially fond of this activity. We were all traveling along the trail that circles the lodge when Katie caught sight of a squirrel and gave chase down into the valley below the trail. The squirrel escaped into a tree and the game was over. Suddenly the stupid squirrel leaped from the tree and Katie resumed the course never allowing it to get more than two feet from her nose. A moment later she caught the squirrel and I presume killed it instantly as there was no struggle.

Katie never broke stride, but continued running with prize in hand... I mean mouth and galloped up the other side of the valley to a trail running parallel to ours and headed for the main driveway.
I generally do not attempt to call my greyhounds off of a squirrel chase since I could be ignored in the peak of a high prey moment and a trick to training really good recalls is not to put yourself in a position for your dog to learn he or she can ignore you. Most greyhounds quit running when the chase is over, but Katie just galloped away with her squirrel and was quickly out of earshot.

I left Stephen with all of the other greyhounds and ran a fraction of Katie's speed toward the main driveway and up the hill to where we were parked. I got to the top and saw no sign of Katie. I stopped and listened, but heard nothing. It was about 4:30 PM and it was cold and getting dark. I decided to run back to Stephen and the other dogs, load them in the van, and start looking for Katie. I was concerned.
In the meanwhile, Katie had simply done a huge loop and circled back to Stephen and the other hounds with her dead squirrel. He leashed her up and did his best to manage six greyhounds and a dead squirrel. Suddenly, two guys in a pick up truck eased up the driveway. Stephen thought that maybe they would stop and help him sort out his situation. They did not. In hindsight, they probably thought this crazy guy was out hunting squirrels with six greyhounds... overkill.

Stephen was able to unlock Katie's jaws around the squirrel and place it in the woods. I hope it provided a free meal to a fox or a coyote. About this time, I make my way back to see the reunion and we called it a day.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Georgia saw its first white Christmas since the 1800's. Its beautiful here.
I am hoping to get out for a hike with Seven and Riley a little later for snow pictures.