Monday, October 24, 2011

Digging on the Dogs

I took Mountain and Gideon out to the farms for a little digging on a glorious Fall Day, with the leaves just beginning to turn, and the corn just starting to come off.

It had been dry for the last few days and it was cool with a light breeze, but far from cold. 

In short, perfect digging weather! 

On the downside, however, I got out of the house late, and it was 10 am before I pulled on to the place where I intended to dig.

Adding to my guilt was the fact that I had a few chores at home to do. 

Ah well -- Fall is digging weather.  The chores would wait, and never mind if one of them was rewiring the thermostat so the heat would actually come on!

We piled out of the truck and I taped up the collars, and off we went. The dogs know their business, and they were on their toes at the first two big settes but after snarfing around above ground for a few minutes, they decided no one was home. 

At the end of the hedgerow, I let them choose which direction to go, and they decided to jog left up to a wet area between the corn fields, where it is never plowed, and is generally too boggy to hold. 

I was not expecting them to find (stupid dogs!) but I was wrong; they opened up to a full bay.

I jogged through the scraggly growth of Sumac, Poke Weed and Multiflora Rose to find Gideon in the ground baying up a storm and Mountain checking possible bolt holes on top.  Nice.

I downed tools and heard the unmistakable growl of a raccoon.   Yahoo! 

I let Mountain patrol for a bolt while I took out the machete and cleared off some of the Multiflora Rose and Sumac from where I would be digging.  Then I leashed up Mountain and tied her well back out of the way.  She hated being tied up, but with Gideon in the ground, and a very noisy raccoon giving her a lot of stick, I needed as little chaos as possible.

I boxed with the locator, and located Gideon about three feet down.  I took a few feet of dirt off the top and then barred into the den to make sure I had got it right.  Bang -- spot on.  I post holed out a clean bore hole and I saw Gideon.  Excellent. She would have plenty of air with that hole right next to her head. 

I followed the direction of her body, accounted for the length of the raccoon, and took off another few feet of dirt before checking again with the bar. Once the den pipe was located again, I post-holed down and popped in right behind the raccoon.  Perfect.

Coming in right behind the raccoon had upset it quite a lot, however, and as I broke through it charged Gideon, who scooted back a foot or two to avoid a bite.  I put the shovel in the second hole I had dug to block it, and I swung around to the first hole.  Gideon was right next to this hole now, and so I grabbed her by the tail and pulled her out.  We would let the raccoon bolt off free.  While we waited for that to occur, I unholstered my camera for a shot of the escape.

Of course we make plans and God laughs! 

For some reason, when I pulled Gideon, the raccoon decided to bolt out the other hole that was behind it, and never mind the shovel that was stuck in the hole!  The raccoon, once free from the earth, ran like hell, and without too much planning.  Unfortunately, it ran straight into Mountain who was tied up next to a small stand of Sumac!

To say the next few seconds was animated does not do it justice. 

I dropped Gideon, who promptly flew down to join the melee between Mountain and the raccoon.  Without pausing, I slipped my camera in my pocket, grabbed up the machete from a dirt pile, and stepped forward to put a boot on the raccoon before it did too much damage to the dogs.  I got in a boot pretty quickly, but the dogs would not back off to allow me to dispatch the raccoon with one clean blow.  A few seconds later -- and after with one of the dogs went sailing through the air back onto the earth works behind us (I am not sure which dog, as I was moving pretty fast) the raccoon was sent off to heaven. 

I relaxed and checked over the dogsNot a scratch.  Excellent.

While the dogs entertained themselves with the dead raccoon, I filled in the holes. 

We had not been out very long at all, but I decided to call it a day and get back to the chores at the house.  I had started the day late, but I was going to end it early and get my chores done.

And the thermostat?  It's working fine now, much to the wife's utter amazement.  No need to tell her it only needed two AA batteries!

Gideon with the one that did not get away, though we sure tried!


wengue said...

Hello Patrick, I've been a a long term reader of your blog. This post resonates with what we went through recently to locate our smooth haired fox terrier who had disappeared for 8 hours on a hunt. Of course you had the voice of experience, we did not. Our dogs had gone off on their own after some creature and we finally found them because they are very vocal. We ended up crawling through thick Mediterranean bush around midnight, swatting mosquitoes and digging through a hillside of stones. After 2 hours we found a very war torn fox terrier with huge bites on her face, ears and a big chunk missing from the area between her foreleg and shoulder. She was exhausted and dehydrated. We shot her full of antibiotics and cleaned her wound 5 times daily. We suspect a fox, which are plentiful here, because of the size of the bite wounds. She is fine now but unfortunately she has discovered the joys of hunting underground...

Our yard is impossible to fence. We live on a hillside with rocky terrain. I am trying to come to terms that one day we may lose her to "the hunt". I wonder if you have any suggestions or ideas? I don't want to chain her up or break her beautiful spirit. But I don't want to mourn losing her and have nightmares about her being stuck underground slowly dying of suffocation. She lives indoors with us much of the time but we let her out much during the day.

PBurns said...

Once a dog has figured out that there is life underground, it's difficult to hold them back.

One way to keeps things OK is to put two dogs together on a brace tieout, but the fields have to be pretty open and you still have to be out with them to make sure they do not get hung up.

Letting a terrier run free without humans in forest and field is a disaster waiting to happen.

See terrier couple sold here >>