Weekend Woofs: The Hunter

Don’t read if the death of small mammals upsets, or triggers you. I’m writing this here, since this is kind of a journal for Maia’s progress.

buddel

I’ve written in the past how Maia passionately digs for mice. On occasion she digs some out. She was most successful in winter, when there was no ground cover, and the only shelter was their nest. She’d kill the mice.

Now, with grass and other plants providing ample groud cover, digging becomes less rewarding. The mice are outside and relying on the protection the plant cover gives them. Maia adjusted to that and now mostly jumps, and catches them with one swift strike. She usually kills them quickly, which I prefer, because I don’t like to stomp on them to make sure they’re dead. A predator killing prey is natural, but Maia is a domesticated pet who doesn’t need the food, and I don’t like unnecessary suffering. When the mouse gets away, I usually don’t allow Maia to go after it. She’s had her chance.

But she’s a hunter, that’s part of her nature. She has a strong hunting drive. That’s why I allow her to catch mice, besides, there are far too many mice around this year. The fields look like swiss cheese.

But recently, (while on leash!) she got a young hare. This made me very sad, hares are becoming rare around here (as opposed to rabbits and mice), and the animal was hurt too badly to take it away from her, so I was glad that Maia killed it quickly.  It was not nice. I need to pay more attention and not let her go too far into the fields. I don’t want to get her another hare, or even rabbit. Mice should be enough for her hunting drive.

Otherwise Maia is doing very well, she has truly arrived. She’s acting more like a teenager now than like a pup. Soon she’ll be all grown up. The hare incident reminds me to never leave her alone with the cat even if they appear to get along better now, but it may be deceiving. It’s just too risky.  They walk side by side peacefully one day, the next day there’s the wild hunt. The cat always has a place to escape to, but it’s stressful for him, and I’d rather be safe  than sorry.

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11 thoughts on “Weekend Woofs: The Hunter

  1. If she didn’t grow up with them, she might just react. Cats don’t need reason to bolt. My daughter has beagle that killed baby bunnies. It never hunted. It’s way over weight. Nature gave him skills, opportunity comes at bad times once in awhile

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    1. Thanks. We got her from the shelter, she came there from Spain, and from all we can figure out about her past, she pretty much grew up there. She wasn’t interested in cats in the shelter. The first few weeks with us, cat and dog coexisted. But after Maia lost some of her fear of the new environment and got more relaxed, the hunting the cat started. She’s also very jealous.
      Beagles, yeah, I can imagine, from what I know about them, their hunting and prey drive is pretty strong, too.
      A friend’s dog hates cats but gets along wonderfully with the guinea pigs in the house… 🙂

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  2. Goes to show how natural an instinct it is. My mother’s CAT, who lives up in the Outaouais region of Quebec is constantly bringing home the bodies of rabbits (may be hares), birds, mice, squirrels… does she touch the mice in the house? Nooooo…. they surely *must* be family, right? The are inside after all…

    My son’s cat catches birds in mid-flight. And mice in mid-run. Sigh.. I’m constantly stepping over bodies…

    My huge German Shepard? Big ole softie who allows said “killer-cat” to rub up and put her butt in his face.

    What kind of dog is Maia?

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    1. My in-laws had a cat many years ago, who killed and ate the neigbours’ kids’ pet rabbit. They hid the remains and feigned ignorance when the neigbours wondered where the rabbit was… Your son’s cat–that must be a sight, to catch the birds mid-flight. I’m always torn between pity and amazement. That’s nature… 🙂
      My current cat grew up with dogs, the previous two got along with him very well, they slept on the same bed, back to back. Maia is a Podenco cross (a spanish hound bred to hunt rabbits, they often bring the rabbits back to the hunter alive). My previous dog was a Podenco cross, too, and while he loved to chase, he would only ever touch the animal he chased with his nose, but never harm it. He caught a mouse once and didn’t know what to do with it…
      Maia is different, I think she may have some retriever or lab in the mix. We’ve only had her for seven months now, she’s lived in shelters most of her life, so there still is a lot to figure out. She’s less fearful than she was, but there are always new things showing up that we didn’t know yet about her. She is a very funny dog, which is a great surprise because in the beginning she was very calm.

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  3. Oh dear, natural instincts in well- fed pets!
    My silly soft old cat once caught a mouse so quickly in the garden I only realised from the bit of tail left hanging out of his mouth.
    In very old age, with hardly any teeth, he very brought in a mouse and craefully placed it on his food plate. We took it away from him – being slowly gummed to death is not a nice fate.
    But it is normal in even the most nicely bought up pet and perhaps a reminder that they are animals (as are we!).

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  4. Oh my, yes, my cat does that, too. He brings the biggest mouse he can catch, preferrably indoors, and then gulps it down in a hurry. And then he is constipated…
    With the well-fed remark, I mostly meant that I don’t want to allow them just anything. I try to prevent the cat from getting at birds and frogs. Mice are ok. And rats, we live close to fields and a creek, there are often rats around, too. I think it is good for Maia to live out her prey drive with mice, she needs an outlet for that. But since she doesn’t need the prey for feeding, I try to control what she catches, hopefully no bunnies nor birds. That hare really surprised me, it was in a place where I never would have suspected it, and it all happened so quickly…

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  5. We have a Lab that has caught a couple bunnies. Its heart breaking to me. I live in town (no big fields around) but there are a lot of rabbits in our neighborhood. Why the bunnies think it is good to hang out in a yard where dogs live I will never know!!

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    1. Yes, sometimes I think they would need to be hunted a bit more to get more careful. We don’t have many predators left in central Europe (although wolves are slowly settling back in). Sometimes, on walk, the hares and rabbits seem to thumb their noses at the dogs around. They do see them, but they don’t seem to fear them much.

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