Tuesday, January 04, 2005
A New Set of Glasses
One of the great things about going into the field with the dogs is that they are able to "see" so much more than we can.
For me, one of the great joys of working with dogs, is seeing the world through their eyes. With the turn of the seasons I am aware of what food sources are about. Walking across a field I think of drainage and look at slope and soil, and think about the distance to water. Are the fox mating now? Are the raccoons coming down from the trees and moving their young to ground dens? Are possums starting to jungle up in the trashier hedgerows to get out of the cold? Where have the gut-shot deer been dumped? What fields are in corn and in soy? What fields are in cut hay and which are being grazed by beef cattle and will, as a consequence, have much harder ground and fewer critters about?
If you dig very often you cannot help but think about these things. You come to learn the difference between a black cherry and a black walnut, and to appreciate the birds that spend the Winter almost as much as you delight in the ones that return in the Spring.
It really is like seeing the world through a new set of glasses.
A case in point occurred on Sunday when Mountain began leaping wildly at an ancient fence post in the middle of a small strip of forest along a creek bank. No other fence posts were around -- this sentry was the last of a long forgotten fence line.
This post was probably a bit of Osage Orange or Black Locust -- woods that are often used for fence posts because they are notoriously slow to rot. Rotting Osage Oranges, the size of duck-pin bowling balls, were scattered along the side of the creek. Black Locusts towered over head.
The fence post was no bigger around than the end of a baseball bat, and it was wrapped tightly in rusty barbed wire. Mountain, undeterred, leaped wildly up to the top, snapping like a lunatic. I was a bit alarmed -- she might poke out her eye. I scooped up the dog and handed her off to Beth before looking down the top of the post.
The picture, above, was what greeted me. Mountain had heard or smelled this little fellow, and was letting me know that great fun was to be had, if only we would stop to sort it out!
A quick shot with the camera, and we walked on, marveling at both the dog and the mouse. What a great thing Nature is.