Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Because It’s Perfectly Fine When We Do It!

A few weeks ago a new dog-owner in our park, hearing me call my whippet, recognised the name. "Oh – Tim," she said. "Is he the one who kills squirrels?"

Yes. Yes, that would be Tim, and before you say anything, I'm sorry and ashamed.

Unless you don't mind, in which case isn't he fantastic?
Wait, what..?
The chase is thrilling and I am, plainly, proud of my dog's athleticism and skill.
That's all very well, but I can't help but feel that if you were dressed in hunting pink and had a horse, the usual commentariat would be tearing you a new one right about now...
But I'm not indifferent to the squirrels' pain, and the social stigma is beginning to wear me down.
Yes, it must be pretty embarrassing to be pointed out as 'That bloke who can't control his dog. Just like a chav...'

Why don't you get some Kappa outfits too, Robert? Complete the 'look', as it were?
The kill itself is usually quick and unbloody. The bad part is straight after: I want to grab the corpse with a poo bag and shove it in a bin before any children spot what's happening, but he won't let go, worrying it, nuzzling it.
So, not only have you not trained him to run off (risking yet another hilarious video opportunity), you haven't trained him to leave what he has when you command?

Have you trained him at all?
Some people approve of Tim's activities: grey squirrels are rats, they say, and immigrants at that (the law takes the same view, putting its weight behind protection of native reds).
Probably the only time you'll ever see the term 'immigrants' used in a pejorative sense by a CiF columnist that doesn't draw any fire, folks!
Dog-owners sympathise: it's what their dogs want to do.
Their dogs 'want to do' lots of unsocial things, Robert; crap wherever they want, chase cars, savage other animals or people. Usually, we train that out of them.
But others – friends, park rangers, passing strangers – have told me off for "letting" Tim kill.
Well, you're the one holding the leash, aren't you? You're the one not ruled by instinct, aren't you? You're the human, aren't you?

Who else should they blame?
I've started trying to intervene, but it's not always easy; he sees them from hundreds of yards away and moves much, much quicker than I can.
The clue's in the name. And the build.
Besides, what I like about dogs is that, however domesticated they may seem, they have wild hearts; to stop Tim hunting – if that's possible – would mean suppressing something essential.
That's what 'domestication' is, Robert...
Coming to dog-owning in midlife, I have been surprised to find how many people in this nation of animal-lovers only really love animals when they behave like small furry humans – hygienic, chaste, polite. I want my dog to act like a dog; but it does seem tough on the squirrels.
You might want your dog to 'act like a dog', but you're not the centre of the universe, are you? Except, clearly, in your own head...


Simon Cooke said...

It would be a crime if he had two whippets! Of course the law is an ass.

The guy needs to train his whippet better but other than that seems quite a deal really!

What next - urban squirrel hunting, the whippets racing across hyde park followed by an excited crowd of Guardian columnists!

A salt and battered said...

Obviously requires a muzzle and a sound thrashing...but dog ownership is out of the question.

Anonymous said...

What he really needs to do is keep the whippet on a leash. If he wants to let it have a run out then he should take it to some heathland.

We foster retired greyhounds and these are dogs that have no recall whatsoever so we daren't let them off the leash at all. Did it with one and he led me on a 3 mile chase. Fortunately he made a wrong turn and ended up in a cul-de-sac.

But agree with you - the guardianistas' hypocrisy is there for all to see. These are the righteous about whom Leg-Iron writes so eloquently. Whenever I hear them speak on the radio about smoking, drinking or eating fatty foods the one thing that shines through from them is "These smokers/drinkers/fat people aren't like me. I'm different not like common people at all". I despise them.

Trainer John said...

Typical hypocrisy.

I've owned whippets and greyhounds for many years. They are biddable dogs which are are easy to train to recall - unless something small and furry catches their attention. Then, hundreds of years of breeding kicks in and they're off. Virtually all dogs will chase - but sighthounds are fast enough to catch and kill.

The answer is simple. Racing muzzles. These dogs love to run so you have to do it in full recognition that they will chase any local wildlife (including cats) they see. With a muzzle they can - if you make a mistake and let them off the lead in the presence of small animals - chase, even catch. But they cannot kill.

But of course the Guardianistas are too stupid to realise that simple solutions actually work.

John Pickworth said...

I use to own a Ford Escort that seemed to kill a squirrel almost every morning while driving home from work. It wasn't just my car, for that particular stretch of Lincolnshire road was often littered with their little corpses... but you'd still see hundreds of the blighters skipping through the trees.

JuliaM said...

"What next - urban squirrel hunting..."

Next door's cat has cornered the market on that! ;)

"What he really needs to do is keep the whippet on a leash."

Awww, but that's stifling the free expression of its doghood, or something!

"The answer is simple. Racing muzzles."

A friend who owns a dog & regularly walks it is rather dubious about muzzles, having seen fogs slip theirs. Are racing muzzles a different design?