My sister continued hunting until a severe back injury put an end to her Sunday morning rides. My dad, however, still gets up on winter mornings when you can see your breath and hear the turkeys in the fallen corn, scavenging for breakfast to go out and chase the elusive, furry scoundrel.
I tell you about the hunting because it was regular thing around the house. When it wasn't hunting season, my sister and I would participate in dressage or jumping competitions at the stable where we kept our horses. (Yes, I was that kid who asked for a pony as a kid and actually got one.)
It was at a horse show when I was little that we first ran across Jack Russel Terriers.
Probably the most famous of the breed is Eddie from Frasier, or Skip, from My Dog Skip. If you've never met one in person, they are all of the energy in a nuclear reactor crammed into a 15 lb dog. They are wicked smart, born hunters, diggers, and the absolute best bed warmer uppers in the winter. They're also a pretty common dog for horse people to have since they were bred to "go to ground" and burrow in after a prey animal. This is why they're fantastic jumpers. Once the pack flushes out a fox, or other small animal, they jump from horseback to chase them. If you ask me, a dog that will dig in after their prey is the ultimate retriever.
|The flying nun herself|
TrueGreen lawncare will never have my parents as a customer as long as Daphne is alive. There isn't a mole, rat, snake, mouse, bunny, and now, frog, that is safe from her hunting urges. There was a time where my folks and I were standing in the back yard, talking about the damage the previous winter had done to the trees on their property. Daphne was scooting around the grass, one ear to the ground. It was like she was doing the doggy butt scrape, only with one ear in the dirt. Dad and I thought that she'd gotten water in her ear when she'd been swimming earlier and she was doing her best to scratch it. It wasn't until we heard the squeal that we realized what she was up to. When we turned around, she had a mole in her mouth, and was shaking it to death. The squeal we heard was its death rattle. Behind her it looked like WWI trench warfare. Daphne, that crafty dog, had heard the mole burrowing underground and dug it out on the fly.
My folks have lost track of the times she's been in a place they didn't expect. My mom is an avid gardener. In the summer, she'll spend days out in the yard weeding, mulching, and planting. Often times, when the weather was nice enough, she'd leave the dogs out in the back yard while she was in the front gardening. More than once, Daphne has come trotting up to her, holding the head of her latest conquest in her mouth as a trophy. It's always an adventure to be sitting down to a meal in the kitchen and look up to see Daphne chasing an animal through the flower beds outside of the kitchen. That meant abandoning dinner to track her down and coax her back in the house. Sometimes that meant on foot, often times it meant driving through the neighborhood calling her name and hoping she'd had her fun.
Their back yard is fenced in, and over the years, has been reinforced by railroad ties, bricks, and even gardening fence to keep the burrowing wonder from getting out. Usually, after she'd make an escape, my folks would walk the fenceline to find the hole and plug it with whatever they had in the yard. Daphne had chosen her favorite weak point in the perimeter too, so it was generally easy to find. Over the years, her go to spot had begun to look a little bit like a compost heap. I think the pile of leaves, rocks, and sticks is close to 2 feet tall at the time.
A few years ago, my mom was outside hollering for the dogs to come in since it was rather warm, and they'd been outside for a couple hours already. Their two other dogs can racing in, content to be in AC, but Daphne never appeared. Mom and dad walked the fenceline, but didn't see any new holes. Just to be sure, they looked in the house for her, but she wasn't there either. (Smudge once put the house on high alert when he crawled under the covers of the waterbed and promptly dissappeared from sight as the mattress hid his outline as he sank into the water.) She had to still be outside, so they went to look again.
As their calling became nervous, they started to hear a weak whine from somewhere along the fence at the side of the yard. After listening closely, they determined that Daphne had started to dig out again, but had gotten stuck in the roots of a felled tree. She couldn't move forward, and she couldn't back up. Who knows how long she'd been there, but she was obviously scared, and probably exhausted. What were my folks to do?
|The scene of the crime.|
That was one of the last times we can remember she broke out of the back yard. Maybe her adventure scared her enough to stop digging, and maybe old age has caught up with her. Regardless, she's still a cherished member of the family with many more stories ahead of her.