Friday, January 11, 2013

"Got a Dog Underground"

A repost from April 2008.

On Sunday, I was preparing to dig on the third groundhog of the day when I got a shout out from someone coming down field and stream from the direction of the road.

It was a middle-aged woman who very clearly thought I was the farmer or owner of this land, and when she got closer to me, she asked me if I had seen a loose Brittany Spaniel about. No I hadn't. I had been paying close attention to the ducks and geese too, so I think I would have seen a Brittany if it had been about.

The lady said she had just gotten the dog from a Brittany rescue about two months earlier, and the dog was microchipped. Did I think her dog would go far? Should she be looking in her car or walking around on foot?

How long had it been gone, I asked? Since about 7:30. It was past 11 now.

I told her if I were her, I would drive around slowly and look, but to stick within a mile or two of where she had lost the dog, and pay particular attention to the area upwind from where the dog had disappeared, as dogs tend to follow scent upwind.

I asked her if the dog had a collar on (no, it didn't), and just about then Pearl began barking behind me.

I looked back at Pearl and then followed her eyes forward to see what she was looking at. Something very clearly had her cranked up.

A large grey cat was about 25 yards behind the woman, hunkered down in the grass near the tire of a parked tractor. What was that cat doing there? This farm had no feral cats on it as far as I knew.

The lady said the cat was hers, and it was following her around while she looked for her dog.

Right. This lady was clearly not a bright light, approaching a man who had loose terriers with a loose cat in tow. No matter what happens to that Brittany, I was not convinced it was in good hands.

Now the lady wanted to know if I thought her dog would come back on its own? I said I doubted it, and I rather pointedly told her she needed to spend as much time as it took to find her dog. "If the dog is struck by a car and killed, this will be your worst day this month by a long shot," I said.

'I could tell she was lazy and wanted to go home and turn on the TV. She had spent a few hours outside, and now she was tired of the cold and wanted to go home to warmth.

Spend four or five more hours humping around outside looking for a dog in the cold? She was not eager for that, and my answer was not the one she wanted to hear. Never mind, it was the right answer, and it was the answer I gave.

And while I gave it, I kept an eye on the cat.

The good news is that Pearl is not hard on cats, and she was just barking a bit to let me know she had seen it, and to tell the cat to stay back.

The bad news is that Mountain is very hard on cats, and I was worried that if she found nothing to ground in the next few minutes she would come out on top and see what was on top. If she did, things would unspool very quickly, and that cat might not last very long.

I tried to calculate the height of the tractor tire and if it was enough to save the cat's life if push came to shove.

Just then, Mountain opened up underground. A short bay, but she had clearly found.


"Gotta go," I said, turning my back on the woman and heading back to the creek, "I have a dog underground. But if I see your Brittany, I'll leash her up and get her back to you -- I promise."

I looked back just once and the lady had a confused look on her face. I knew what she was thinking: You have a dog UNDERGROUND?

Well yes. Which may sound crazy, to her, but believe me, I knew exactly where my dog was.

Which is more than she could say at that moment.

And so, one more groundog was accounted for.

And no, I never did see that Brittany.

And Mountain never did see that cat.

Which is the end of this pointless little tale about life swinging perilously in the balance.


Pearl was willing to stand for a picture, though she did none of the work on this one..

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