A tiny hunter

Wolves at the California Wolf Center that we visited several years ago.

Yesterday, Elsa and I were at the harbor.  It is truly a beautiful place; but, it is filled with squirrels. Not tree squirrels like the type with big fluffy tails, these are ground squirrels.  They look more like prairie dogs than the squirrels that you see in the forest or treed areas.  Anyway, back to the harbor. When Elsa and I arrived we saw a tiny white toy poodle standing frozen at the edge of the rocks where the squirrels live.  I smiled looking at her fancy haircut and small stature.  The man on the other end of the leash was talking to her; trying to coax her away from the little rodents, but she was not budging.  "Can't take the hunter out of the poodle," I said, smiling.  She didn't look like a hunting dog but she most definitely thought that she was and in fact she was.

    This little guy may not look much like his ancestor, the wolf.  But the drive to hunt is still in there. 

The man told me that she had caught one, I was shocked.  The squirrels were not that much smaller than she was; and I imagined her with one in her mouth doing a victory dance.  The squirrels are bold; not scared of dogs because most are kept on a short leash.  But they obviously got too confident on the day that this little white toy poodle was hunting.  I love seeing dogs that still have an ancestral drive in them and humans that give them an outlet for it.  Especially when it is not a dog that you would think would have that sort of drive.

Dogs are dogs and when we give our dogs an outlet to be a dog, it can be truly wonderful.  Seeing the man with the little white toy poodle at the harbor; standing patiently as she got her fill of "the hunt," was amazing.  I know a lot of people who freak out if their dog caught a squirrel, killed a rabbit or chased a neighborhood cat.  In fact I've had many calls from very upset dog owners who's dog had chased down and nearly killed a cat.  Dogs are dogs and whether we like it or not; they descend from wolves.  Yes even the little white toy poodle, yorkie and other very non wolf looking dogs.  They can all have that inner desire to chase and hunt.  But not all hunters are alike.

All of my dogs except for Mandy (my first dog), have been hunters; but not all have been killers.  Jessie loved to hunt and killed without a second thought.  She would sit at the top of varmint holes and wait patiently for them to come out.  One day at the park she caught one off guard and swallowed it down whole, before I could do anything about it.  Ahhh, Jack Russells.  :)  Tilley on the other hand was all about the chase.  She would slink down low when in the presence of the harbor squirrels; and there she remained until we left.  Every step was methodical and nothing else existed around her.  The hunt was the exciting part for her; I know this because she once caught a rabbit and brought it to us.  She hadn't killed it, although it died of fright in her mouth.  Rabbits are extremely fearful which makes them very hard to rescue and rehabilitate.  They die very easily, but of course I guess being in a dogs mouth is a very scary place to be.   Tilley had loved every second of the chase and finally catch, but not the kill. 

So  many people think that their dogs are far, far removed from the hunters they once were.  Some are but most are not.  That drive to hunt or chase is still very much alive; sitting just beneath that genetically modified coat.  You can take the dog out of the forest but you cannot take the hunt out of the dog. 


  1. I love this! I've tried to tell my mother that our 11 year old Standard (shadow) that just because he's a dog doesn't mean he still can't hunt and kill. She's been getting upset because he's taken up hunt birds in the back yard. I get all excited- showing off the true bird dog he is! Though sometimes a little worried because we think at times he is eating them. He's always chased things, squirrels, deer, birds (thankfully never cars). He caught a small deer once when he was young but didn't know what to do with it so he let it go. We haven't ever seen any evidence of him killing things until recently. Just shocked at 11 years old he's catching birds! Our sweetheart, cuddly old man. So proud of him :)

  2. Our 11 year old standard (Shadow) has taken up hunting and killing birds in the back yard. My mother is freaked out by it- I try to tell her just because he's domesticated doesn't mean he doesn't still have it in him. I think more it's the mess he creates- she doesn't like dealing with the dead things. He's always liked hunting things: squirrels, deer, birds (thankfully never cars). He even caught a deer once when he was young but didn't know what to do with it so he let it go. We've never found evidence that he's killed things until recently. Past few months to a year he's killed several birds or at least tried to. I think he's eaten a few not sure how good that is for him but still I'm a pretty proud mom that my sweetheart, gentle, cuddly, old man still has it in him to run, jump and catch birds- i saw him grab one out of the air once!


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