Dog trains man

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Mighty Hunter

While we walked past some bushes along the trail it was as if a fish hook had caught Tilde's nose. In a split-second she made a sharp, almost cat-like turn. Her head positioned perfectly aligned with her body. Her intense facial expression and the focus in her eyes left no doubt. She was on a hunt, but what? and where? I looked around me but couldn't see anything, until a dark shadow jumped out of the small bush right in front of me and made me look down.

A little fawn, with its adorable Bambi face and its long clumsy legs ran past me that close, I could have touched it. Tilde engaged in a chase and was already just inches behind the fawn. My heart sunk. Instinctively I was closing my eyes. It would be too hard to watch what seemed now to be inevitable. I was already bracing myself for the sound of what no doubt would be awful to hear, the cries of a young fawn when caught by a predator, until the leash had reached its maximal length and the force in which Tilde hit the other end, almost made me tumble. We both watched the fawn disappear back into the forest again. It was startled, but alive.

Life on the West-coast has its own challenges compared to the city. It is teeming with wild-life over here. We can't ignore them, as sometimes we find them right in front of our door. Some of them can hurt Tilde, like wild horses, snakes, the antlers of the red deer, and maybe wolves. The last mentioned have been sighted in the area, but not yet that far West where we usually hike. Also, not only do I need to keep Tilde safe for the aforementioned wild-life, I also have to keep the wild-life safe from Tilde, like the many birds, hares, seals, fallow and roe deer that live here. Wild-life has it hard enough. No reason for us to add to their peril.

Hovawarts tend to hunt on sight, and Tilde is no exception. On the contrary. She has an undeniable prey-drive. She literally chases everything. For a dog who loves people, ask the mountain bikers and joggers how much they love Tilde back. Tilde has but one rule. When it moves fast, she has to chase it. She is totally out of my reach for any "command" that I might utter, unlike Kenzo, who I could recall from even the most interesting chases. I just don't get it to work, not even our "alarm" recall. Add to Tilde's instincts her agility and lightning speed and you can imagine why I sometimes worry.

I try to manage it as well as I can. Have her leashed through most of Spring when the birds nest and mammals give birth. We like to walk with the wind in our back and make noise to warn wild-life we are approaching. Have her leashed just around sunrise and sunset where wild-life starts to become active. But still, we had our share of mistakes, where Tilde managed to start a chase. Either without the leash, or with the leash dangling behind her while she chased a critter. Oddly, these incidents do gave me some hope. Hope that she will chase, but not necessarily hunts to kill.

Like the day when she chased a bunch of seagulls. Birds are her nemesis, and she is exceptionally determent to chase them. Although she never succeeded, she remains persistent. While she approached the seagulls with high speed, they flew up as usual. All but one. It was clearly hurt on one of its wings and it couldn't fly. When Tilde came up close to the seagull she acted surprised, and although she tried to get closer, the seagull could fend her off with relative ease. The same happened with a seal, and also a couple of roe deer, who are just too clever and turn right after passing a ridge, using the terrain to leave the hunt-on-sight Tilde baffled behind, as if they disappeared in thin air.

Maybe Tilde is not so much of a mighty hunter after all. I keep hoping so.

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