Obviously coyotes and roadrunners don’t really feature in our local ecology, but like many, I grew up with them. The animated antics of the two internationally famous protagonists kept us all amused. Indeed I’m still a fan.
But still, it’s great but it’s not real life. We have chase scenes here but I’ve never yet seen gravity temporarily put on hold for artistic effect.
Sal hunting is a sight to see. She’ll be quietly bimbling about whilst I’m walking around looking stock and suddenly she’ll catch a scent. She’ll stop and look in the direction the scent is coming from.
Now the problem is, she’s not the tallest of dogs. She struggles to see over tall grass, never mind sedges and other things. So she’ll run towards the source of the scent but occasionally you’ll see her bound upwards so she can see where she’s going and perhaps catch a glimpse of what she’s hunting for.
So all you’ll see of the great pursuit is nothing but grass with occasionally Sal springing above it.
Nobody has ever taught her to hunt foxes, but every dog we’ve ever had just hated them. We had no input into this, they’d catch a scent of fox and even the quietest would set off in that direction like an avenging fury.
Whether it’s something instinctive based on ‘my flock, keep off’, or whether it’s some sort of ideological argument over just who is the apex predator round here I haven’t a clue.
So far I don’t think she’s ever caught one, or even got close enough for it to look like a possibility. The foxes just run and keep running and Sal will tend to stop at our boundary.
I was once checking cattle with old Boz and Jess. As I walked along the top of the hill, both dogs suddenly set off at speed. I was ignored, so ran to see what was going on. They’d seen a fox and pursued it for well over half a mile, down the hill, through the hedge, across the lane, through another hedge, across the first field, through another hedge across the second field, and then they came to the beck which marked our boundary. Boz and Jess stopped but the fox kept running. It ran straight through a flock of sheep who parted to let it through then huddled back together again for mutual security.
At this point the two dogs, their self-appointed task completed, decided that I might have wanted them for something and they trotted back to join me at a somewhat less impressive pace than when they’d a fox to pursue. It has to be admitted that they wore the expressions of dogs who had notched up a good job, well done.
Old Boz very nearly caught a fox on two occasions. When he was in his prime he was bigger and more solidly built than any fox. One morning after taking milk cows down to the field for the day he shot off into the hedge and whilst I hadn’t a clue what where anything was, you could track him by the noise and the leaves rustling. A young fox leapt out of the hedge, saw me and shot up the lane with Boz in hot pursuit. To throw off pursuit the fox jumped into a neighbour’s fish pond. Boz overshot and a soaking wet fox headed off in a different direction. Boz tried to take a short cut but the fox had wiggled under a gate and ran pell-mell between two ponies. At this point I was close enough to grab Boz because I felt we didn’t need the complication of the ponies joining in the mad escapade.
On the second occasion Boz disappeared into a hedge, a big dog fox dashed out with Boz in pursuit. Boz was gaining as they ran across the field and the fox dived through another hedge and away. Boz was stopped at the hedge but he had a couple of the long tail hairs of the fox clamped between his teeth.
Still, dogs are like that. A neighbour’s dog used to chase seagulls.
Strangely enough I don’t think any of them ever wrote off to the Acme Corporation to purchase specialised equipment, I suspect they were wise enough to realise where that would lead.
It struck me that you might not have heard of the new collection of stories I’ve just published.
More tales from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England, with sheep, Border Collies, cattle, and many other interesting individuals. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is just one of those things.