Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Small Working Dogs

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

53 degrees here on the mountain. The sky is cloudless as the sun pushes above Peacham Pond and brightens the fields. The morning offers promise but the view out my office window reminds me how many daylilies I have to move. This process has been going on now for a couple years but I guess I shouldn't be surprised that moving over twenty years worth of flowers doesn't happen quickly. I have a new garden prepared but we're in conflict now between planting new arrivals and digging and replanting older collections.

Every weekend morning, Rusty, the Jack Russell, appears at the nursery with his owner Mike. Rusty lives down the road from us but he seems to enjoy the opportunity to visit Vermont Flower Farm and run the five acres of fields and scour the gardens for signs of woodchucks and rodents.

Rusty is a born hunter and is fearless. He doesn't seem to understand his size at all and he is as confident hunting red voles, white footed deer mice or moles as he is digging old woodchucks sporting aged white-haired faces from subterranean burrows. The pictures show Rusty with his Sunday catch of a white footed mouse (click to enlarge). Some gardeners would not approve of having a hunter run the gardens but many of these rodents can take down a nice collection of hostas in a matter of weeks. I don't give second thought to Rusty's abilities and I welcome his arrival each week. He isn't always a successful hunter but he always enjoys a visit and an opportunity to show off his skills.

Some gardeners have big problems with deer and want to resort to a dog for deer control. This needs some thought because wildlife laws in most states have sections that are very specific about how you can use dogs for critter control. Some local laws prohibit dogs running at all so deer control can get you into a double whammy even though you are simply trying to protect what is yours.

The final part about using a dog is the dog-owner combination. Dogs must be well trained and stop what they are doing on command. Rusty is the best trained Jack Russell I have ever seen. He is what you'd want if you wanted a companion and a Chief of Back Yard Rodent Control. But he didn't get there by himself and hours upon hours of training went into him from his early puppy days. The final tought about a dog like Rusty is your personal commitment to the hours it takes to maintain a high energy dog. Mike spends lots of time with Rusty and works off the energy. To leave a hunting dog cooped up in the house is a poor relationship too which is why I state it. Think before you buy as the commitment is no different than a marriage or a child, it lasts a long time.

The sun is encouraging me to grab another coffee and head to the nursery. Stop by if you pass through Marshfield today. I'll be out back planting.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the loons are sharing secrets over a morning swim and breakfast and a pair of Cedar Waxwings are sitting in the maple thinking about nest building.

George Africa
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joey said...

Looks like a beautiful day to finish those daylilies, George. How fun to be near and share coffee with you (and hear your loons). I'd then grab a shovel (my 3rd arm) and help since it seems that is all I've been doing lately! Off to the local Farmer's Market :)

Yaqui Grande said...

A dog will do what a dog will do. The mice and the voles know this. I agree about the training. Fortunately, I have a big yard where my new dog, Lexie, can exercise her murderous needs under a controlled environment. She is extremely smart and the command of "Release" will often work (maybe 90% of the time). I always thought of a dog as a no-brainer for deer control but I never thought there may be laws against it. Interesting.

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

That's why they call them terriers. Lucky Rusty to get to be an "earth dog" at your place.