Outdoors Column: Fatal Mistake

Since early spring, a rabbit has been living near our driveway, just out of range of Billie with his invisible fence. She has spent countless hours, barely out of reach, taunting the dog. It has been a common sight to see her at the edge of the driveway, pretty much ignoring vehicles as they come and go. When Zane comes over, he usually has Carl with him. Carl, being a beagle loves to chase rabbits. Zane will let Carl out of the vehicle when they spot the rabbit and the chase is on. He will track his prey around in circles until he gets tired of it. He then comes to the house and the rabbit returns to her spot in the yard. Both Carl and the rabbit seem to enjoy this exercise.


During the late spring, the resident rabbit had a bunch of babies. They too spent most of their time at the edge of the driveway. As they grew, we enjoyed watching the herd of rabbits as they hopped around, munching clover, and keeping one section of the driveway mowed. The young ones finally matured and left the area. The mother stayed behind, figuring she was in a safe place.


Billie, being a poodle, still has hunting instincts. It is frustrating to him to not be able to put on a proper hunt on the rabbit. Occasionally she comes close to his boundary and he will make a charge at her, stopping short, as the rabbit stops and looks at him. Being a young dog with no real hunting experience, I often wondered if he would know what to do if ever, he had the opportunity to put on a full-fledged hunt.


We have a tomato plant next to the porch. I find it decorative but more that it is handy when we need a fresh tomato for something. It is producing sweet juicy tomatoes, some of which hang near the ground. I think this is what drew the rabbit to the house.


It was dark the other evening when Billie looked out the window. He came to me, letting me know that he urgently needed to go outside. From his insistence, I could tell, it was something important. When I opened the door, he went tearing down the porch and literally flew off into the yard. I thought he was probably after a deer as it is full time job to chase them out of his yard. In the darkness, I could barely make out where he was or what he was doing. He did not come back when I called him. When he chases the deer off, he promptly returns to get praised for a job well done.


I went back into the house to get a flashlight to see what he was up to. I found him by the flower bed with a limp rabbit in his mouth. This answered the question on if he would know what to do with a rabbit if he ever caught one. It took quite a bit of convincing for him to turn his prize over to me. He was looking for a place where he could eat it undisturbed. This was not going to happen. A dog that eats only dog food, not even table scraps, could not handle eating a rabbit. I was finally able to convince Billie to trade the rabbit for a chew treat. His nemesis made the fatal mistake of coming into the yard after the tomatoes. Billie proved he really is a watch dog and a hunter.