The things you do when you discover your dog is a hunter

The things you do when you discover your dog is a hunter
Chester relaxes after a long frisbee session. In addition to frisbees, he also hunts garter snakes, mice and rats.

There's a big goddamn rat with my boot-print in its right side in the garbage can in my backyard.

The rat is very dead. I helped make it that way, though Chester did the bulk of the work.

Does this look like a hunting dog?

A couple hours ago, I let Chester out before going to bed for the evening. Usually, at least right before bed, he's good about going out, doing what he has to do and coming back in. But not this time.

After a couple minutes calling him, I went out to get him. He sometimes gets distracted by squirrels and birds and other dogs in the area and I heard him barking, so I figured I'd just have to break his focus for a second and he'd come in.

Oh was I wrong. I found the pup on the side of the house, pawing at something in the dark. Then I heard it. A squeak. Not a cute squeak. A squeak of much pain. I only heard it once. In the dim light, I could see Chester had something in his mouth. I saw a bit of a tail hanging down limply.

"Christ," I thought as I tried to convince the dog to drop his newfound toy. But he wouldn't. Luckily, he dropped it for just a second, allowing me to put my foot down on it and yank him away. As I yanked, my foot pressed down on the rat resulting in a sickening crunch (and, as I later discovered, the boot-print). I brought dog inside and went back out to deposit the rat (with the help of a pooper scooper) in the trash can.

Though I didn't have to grab the dead critter out of Chester's mouth this time, I've had to in the past. A couple years ago, I was taking Chester for a walk. I've never been a disciplinarian about where he can and can't walk because when I adopted him, I didn't have a yard, so I wanted him to feel comfortable enough to use the bathroom anywhere outside. As he so often does, he got to sniffing in some bushes. I didn't think anything was strange about that until I tried to pull him out.

As I was about to pull him out of the bush to keep walking, he lunged. As I yanked back on the leash, I heard a slight squeak and saw Chester's mouth was open slightly. So I did what any straight-thinking person would do in that situation: I reached into my dog's mouth, pulled out the quite-dead chipmunk and tossed it into the street. Because of course that's what you're supposed to do.

Before that moment, I never would have thought that one day, I'd find myself with my hand in a dog's mouth removing a dead, slobber-covered chipmunk from its jaws. I never thought that I'd have to crush a (possibly already-dead) rat under my size-9 boot while simultaneously trying to keep my dog from turning the aforementioned rodent into nothing more than a slick of blood on the dirt in the yard.

But I guess these are just the things dog owners will do in the best interests of their dogs. I can't say I'm happy I've crushed a rat or tossed a slimy chipmunk into the street. But I'd do both again. I guess you just don't know what you'll do until your dog manages to get his first kill.

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Filed under: Ruminations

Tags: dogs, hunting

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