Thursday, January 26, 2017

Terrierman on Modern Farmer

It appears I missed this article 
from a few years back; it popped up when I was researching "rat terriers" for a friend.

Burns ... runs, a website about working terriers, and he has written a book on the subject.

“If you start off having terriers as a kid, a big day in your life is when you’re five or seven or eight or ten, when your dog nails a rat in the backyard,” says Burns. “You feel like you’re a hunter and your dog is a mighty wolf.”

Unlike Reed’s, most terriers were bred to chase their quarry underground, through networks of tunnels and dens. This is how Burns’ two Jack Russell terriers, Mountain and Gideon, work. Burns and his dogs hunt possums, raccoons, groundhogs and other quarry on farms all over Maryland and Virginia. He doesn’t charge the farmers anything, although he might get a bottle of wine when Christmas arrives.

Burns brings an arsenal of equipment with him to assist in the hunt, including a shovel, a post digger, a saw and veterinary gear. Occasionally, he has to dig the dogs out of the ground and they wear radio locator collars that Burns can use to track them.

“Every dog is a potential for disaster out in the field,” says Burns. “They can get caught in a trap, run away, get hit by a truck, get caught in wire, get skunked underground, et cetera.”

Burns is not short on opinions (“Owning a working terrier without allowing it to work is like owning a vintage bottle of wine so you can read the label,” he writes on his website) and doesn’t have patience for those who think terrier work is cruel.

“There’s a communication between the dog and you,” says Burns. “You’re out there because you enjoy hunting and the dog enjoys hunting. It’s an ancient code between the dog and the person. The dog becomes fully actualized. To some degree, so does the human as well, when they hunt.”

Burns and his dogs typically don’t kill their quarry, unless the dog has cornered a groundhog, which he says he is duty bound to kill on behalf of farmers.

“When the dog starts to bay underground, I always laugh,” says Burns. “The reason I laugh is because I can hear the joy, the absolute joy in the dog. At the end of the day, the best day is when nothing dies and the coon runs away.”
A related post: The Self-Actualized Terrier: Happy In the Field.

No comments: