Weather Forecast


Dogs like to explore the outdoors, too

My wife and I usually have our weekends free to enjoy outdoors activities as we choose.

Saturday, my wife had to work. It was quite a switch for me, with no hunting seasons open and no wife to go explore the outdoors. If I am not hunting, she and I can always find something entertaining to do on the farm.

When she left for work, I made a plan. The dogs and I would go to the farm just to see what was happening on a cold, winter morning. We are the owners of three fine dogs. Duke, the mastiff, and Coty, the lab, are outside dogs. Dulce, the standard poodle, is an inside dog that prefers to think she is not a dog at all. As a matter of fact, she finds dogs to be much below her social status and will not associate with them at all.

The trip to the farm is for them, half the fun. Duke will stretch the log chain that restrains him in the back of the truck far enough that partially frozen drool cascades down the bed of the pickup. Duke only drools when he is excited. Unfortunately, it takes very little to get him excited. Even the thought of a trip to the farm can produce copious amounts of dog spit. People do not tailgate on the way to the farm.

Coty is free to roam about the back of the truck so he can look over any edge not being used by Duke. He is old enough, he will not attempt to jump out and has enough wisdom to not get downwind of an excited Mastiff.

Dulce, excited about the trip in her own way, sits properly in the passenger seat, up front where people belong, road hunting while staying warm and dry. She knows if anything important needs caught, she can do it, unlike the two big oafs riding in back in the cold.

I waited until we got to the cabin to turn loose the pack of hounds. I did not want any unpleasant encounters with the cows as has been known to happen.

The three dogs were immediately off hunting. Poodles are sight hunters. They usually spot their prey and go after it. Labradors are primarily scent hunters. They can smell a mouse track in six inches of snow but not notice a deer 20 yards away. Mastiffs are not hunters at all but sure do wish they were. If Duke sees Coty is on the scent trail of something, Duke will run over the top of him trying to help. He will do the same for Dulce if she sees something and takes off after it. His system of hunting does not really help and annoys the dogs that are actually hunting. If a person could restrain part of the enthusiasm, I could have an efficient hunting pack. Coty could track the game, Dulce could see and capture it, and Duke could stand around smiling as pictures were taken.

As I drove through the farm, the dogs had a wonderful time chasing squirrels, tracking raccoons, and just running around enjoying themselves. First, Dulce dropped back and wanted a ride. She had not caught a squirrel, but was close several times. She was ready for a break. Coty finally got tired, mostly from Duke jumping on his head while he was searching diligently for voles in the deep fluffy snow. I loaded him into the truck too. Duke was the lone dog, running ahead of the truck, hunting as best he could.

A deer ran in front of us and a squirrel ran up a tree. With no guidance from the other two dogs, he did not know what to do. He chased, they ran. That was good enough for him.

By lunch time, we were all ready to head for home. Dulce slept with her head on my lap and Coty curled up in the bed of the truck. Duke was tired, but still excited to be outside, enjoying the outdoors. I could tell just how excited by the string of dog saliva that constantly followed my truck on our trip back home.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.