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.


Michelle said...

Merry Christmas to you! We had a white Christmas too, so beautiful!

QuarterHorsesRockIt said...

I find it so funny that you call Jessie your screw up dog! After I saw that, I started calling my quarter horse my "screw up horse" affectionately. She is most definitely MY greatest equine teacher! I have two seperate blogs on this site, one is about motherhood and the other is about horses. I just wrote our story on the horse blog. I can't remember what it's called! Basically I got her as a high school senior and she and I have finally really started meshing after 4 years. You know why? I finally started letting her be what she IS rather than trying to create something that isn't there. That is the greatest lesson she has taught me: horses (and dogs are the same way) will flourish if you teach according to their abilities and what they ARE and will never satisfy you if you try to turn them into what they are not. I see you as someone who appreciates the individuals your dogs are and I have a lot of respect for that. I am sure Jessie helped you with this lesson, if she is anything like Kandi! I believe some horses (and dogs) have to be "screw up dogs/horses" so that the rest of them can become the stars they were meant to! Also if she's anything like Kandi, she was spoiled as can be! How cool to have an animal like that in your life!

houndstooth said...

Katie must have been so proud of that trophy! What a fun memory, since it all turned out well in the end! I hope you have a great hike!

Hiking Hounds said...

What an adventure! For all the coursing of different animals Zephyr has done he's never caught anything. Except maybe a bird a few years ago, but I didn't actually see him get it so I'm not sure. Your house looks really pretty with the snow.

Amy / Layla the Malamute said...

Wow! What a great Christmas present for Katie. I also don't bother calling Layla to me when she's in prey-mode. I know I don't have a prayer of getting a response, other than her learning to ignore me. Glad I'm not the only one! I was reading up on an agility instructor (Susan Garrett, from Canada) and her "100% reliable recall, you can call your dog off of deer" and I just can't believe that. For some dogs, maybe, but not for dogs with ridiculous prey drive.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

QuarterHorses, I'll have come read some Kandi stories. Sounds like she was a great horse.

Luckily, this squirrel... well, and a cat that was in our fenced yard 15 years ago are the only animals my greyhounds have killed and I prefer it that way.

Amy, I figure the only time you can claim a 100% recall rate is after your perfect dog has died. I can only think of one instance that Katie ignored me and she got in big trouble. In this story, I just waited too long.

I definitely have strong opinions about off leash dogs and about how well they need to be trained before they should earn such freedoms. Click Here

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and is enjoying some vacation days!

QuarterHorsesRockIt said...

She is a great horse :) She is only 12 and still very much alive, I have just had a chance to ride a lot of other AWESOME horses the last few years as well who were better because of her!

Your greys are beautiful by the way. We had to put one of ours down in May and adopted a ten year old back in October! We also have a 9 year old. They are all retired racers.

jcp said...

A squirrel on Christmas... the ultimate stuffy.. :)

Kinipella said...

Your story about Katie made me laugh out loud! That's so scary that you almost couldn't find her, but I'm glad it had a happy ending...and the image of someone hiking through trails with six greyhounds and a dead squirrel is quite hilarious.

greytblackdog said...

I could think of no better Christmas present than a squirrel - well, if I were a greyhound.

Sue said...

Great to have a white Christmas.

Reckon Katie expected you to skin the squirrel and then stuff it for her:)

Muttsandaklutz said...

"In hindsight, they probably thought this crazy guy was out hunting squirrels with six greyhounds... overkill." That's hilarious!! Loved the story.