Tag Archives: hunting

Snap Out Of It!

Little Monkey

Little Monkey

Little Monkey is a hunter supreme; speciality cats – or any other small moving creature. Most dogs respond to movement and will not notice a cat when it is lying absolutely still, curled up and ready to spring. Not so LM. She sees all!

Walking round the block I know when she’s spotted something by watching her body language change. The “I’ve seen a cat!” posture has a certain stillness to it, as well as the obvious alertness. So ears up, intent fixed staring, and freeze.

I follow her gaze and sure enough I’ll eventually see a cat, silently hunched and still as a mouse, watching us; debating whether it has to actually get  up and walk/run away, or if the silly ‘wolf on a lead’ is no threat.

One time Mr Spaghetti Legs, LM and I were on the last leg of the walk, approaching the ‘gauntlet’, when LM went through the whole process detailed above. I looked in the direction she was fixated on, but could see nothing. Looked at LM again. Definitely something there. Looked again, and finally I saw a black cat, hunched up, feet tucked in, sitting way up high on the top of a white pillar at the entrance to someone’s property a few metres away.

Now, you’ve probably all watched some Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, and know that you can snap a dog out of this unwanted behaviour. A quick tug on the lead, or a tap with your fingers to the dog’s shoulder will normally do the trick. This works perfectly with SL; a well-balanced dog.

Again, not so LM! I tapped her neck. No change. I tapped harder. Her eyes remained glued on the black cat. She wasn’t going to snap out of this that easily! So I pushed her harder with my fingers, on her hip. Her whole body skewed round like a banana, her back legs skidding across the road.

Still her head did not move, her eyes did not shift from the cat, and her attention did not waver for one moment.

By this time I am laughing out loud! (If I ever get locked up, it will be from laughing like this when walking my dogs!) I took her face in my hands and moved it away, while her eyes slewed to the side still trying to see the cat. I stood in front of her, blocking her view.

At last the line of sight was broken, and we went on our way; me blocking, LM desperately trying to see the cat.

LM is not the brightest of dogs; it takes her a long time and many, many, many repetitions to learn new things, and then you must always maintain the routine with no variation, or it’s back to repeating another thousand times!

Now here is the amazing thing. A few days later we walked that way again. As we neared the white pillar, I noticed LM behaving oddly. She was moving her head from side to side, her eyes fixed on the top of the pillar. She was looking for the cat!

She truly is a supreme hunter!



LM in Full Pursuit

LM in Full Pursuit

Look at the amazing Little Monkey, tearing across the lawn in full pursuit; back legs overtaking front legs as she runs like a cheetah; tail out for balance as she turns; mouth open as she barks her intent.

What is she chasing?

Not Fast Enough

Not Fast Enough

This large hadeda that had dared to potter nonchalantly round LM’s garden!

Why is this action shot so blurred? Well, I didn’t get a chance to call to the participants, “Wait a minute while I switch on my camera!” And there is no Action Replay!

OK, Little Monkey would happily replay the scenario for me –  in fact, trying to stop her running out full tilt is the problem!

But the hadeda? That was long gone!

post script: What’s a hadeda? It’s an ibis – Bostrychia hagedash – a large bird, about 76cm long, with a really loud annoying call of . . . Ha De Daaaa. According to wiki, it has powerful, broad wings that give it a quick take off. Hmmm – put to good use here then!

How to – with Little Monkey. No 2. Chase Squirrels

There are two methods, depending on whether you are at home, or running around the forest.

Method One: At home. Lie in absolute stillness on the stoep. Watch the happy little squirrel as it checks the coast is clear, before cautiously descending face first from the Eugenia tree. Hold your breath as you watch it dart from place to place on the lawn, scratching here and there.

When a person walks past you, suddenly leap into the air barking (great for giving them a heart attack!) and hare at top speed after the squirrel. Dance along the wall yipping as the squirrel disappears next door for a little more peace and quiet.

Method Two: In the forest. Race madly from side to side, dashing full speed straight at any perceived “little grey animal” movement. Scramble up the tree trunk as far as you can, then springboard off it with a double back spin and land on all fours.

Stay under the 40 foot pine tree, dancing and prancing about in the hope that the little grey animal will run back down the trunk and into your open mouth. All the time make the most annoying, high pitched yipping sound, most unlike your usual low bark. Eventually give up, and pronking like a springbok through the undergrowth, look for more easily accessible furry fluff balls to chase.

At some point, realise that Mum and Mr Spaghetti Legs are far away on their more sedate walk, and that, reluctantly, you’d better catch up. Hey wait! There’s another moving grey thing. Tally Ho!

Hunting the Cape Lion

TJ - the Cape Lion

TJ – Heart of a Lion

What is the Cape Lion?

The Cape Lion had black-tipped ears and the male, a massive black mane, reaching behind its shoulders and right under its stomach. The last of its kind was killed in 1858.

There is some debate as to whether the Cape Lion ( Panthera leo melanochaitus ) was a distinct subspecies of lion, many maintaining that it was simply a southern variation of the Transvaal Lion. It was large though, weighing up up to 230kg and 3m in length.

Some zoos (eg in Russia) claimed to have descendants of the Cape Lion, but there has been so much interbreeding it is unlikely that a pure Cape Lion will ever walk along the Cape of Africa again.


To Hunt or Not to Hunt – That is the Question

The Idiot - cornering

Little Monkey – cornering

Fast animals, like cheetahs, use their tail to balance when cornering.

The Idiot - faster than a digital camera

Little Monkey – faster than a digital camera

Apparently, Little Monkey also uses her tongue – look closely.

All prey animals know when the hunter is not hunting. Either the predator has recently eaten, or there is an uneasy truce at the water hole.

Likewise, the wild birds on the soccer field knew that the Idiot was not really hunting them, when she mock-charged them. Little Monkey did not run at full speed, rather a happy canter. The birds, to a feather, rose reluctantly from the ground, and resettled, as one, about ten metres away.

Little Monkey – her work here done, trotted back to me and Mr Spaghetti Legs, with a big grin on her face.

Hunting was such fun!


Mr Spaghetti Legs and the Cat

Mr Spaghetti Legs

Just been to the vets, where, great excitement, a small ginger cat played chicken with Mr Spaghetti Legs

First, it sat on the floor in front of the reception desk, playing peek-a-boo with the old boy. First I knew of this, was Mr SL being all alert and tense, ears pricked up and staring in the cat’s direction.

Oh, OK, it’s a cat. Well sorry, but you can’t have it.

When we came out of the vet’s room, the cat was lying in wait. Mr SL saw it instantly, and lunged for it, barking. The cat puffed itself up to its full tiny stature and hissed. Luckily, I always have the handle of the lead round my wrist ( a necessary requirement with Little Monkey) so Mr SL did not get away from me, and I reeled him back in.

Once the cat realised that the dog was restrained, it calmly sat in the corner, looked nonchalant and stuck its tongue out at the dog. The other vet cats then decided to see what all the noise was about, and ambled past us.

Now Mr SL is an old dog, over 12 years. He walks painfully slowly on all outings, needs lifting in and out of the car and generally acts like a geriatric.

Suddenly, here he was, nearly pulling me off my feet trying to get at the cats. I had no idea he was so strong. Just shows you the power of an adrenalin rush!


The Idiot by any other name

Little Monkey - Always ready for Mischief

Little Monkey – Always ready for Mischief

Why the Idiot? You decide.

Little Monkey’s idea of fun is to race at top speed across the field towards her selected target; some small unsuspecting dog. When she is about ten metres away she swings round in a large arc, going Wuff Wuff Wuff. Passing by the surprised victims with a good five metres to spare, she carries on in her circle, cantering back to me with a self-satisfied swagger, saying, “I’ve seen them off for you!”

I’ve found that bellowing at her as she hares off across the field to mock-charge another little fluff ball has no effect on her what-so-ever. Rather, it unnerves the old guy, already nervous for his dog and himself. My only option is to throw the lead at her. This seldom works; she is so fast, I am so slow, the lead is soft and floppy, and, yes I’ll admit it – I throw like a girl!

My best bet is to call after the rapidly disappearing dog, in a light sing-song voice, “Nobody said you could go play! – It isn’t your ball! – You silly billy!” or words to that effect.

One old man, that Little Monkey had mock-charged, said, “My dog is barely a mouthful!!” indicating his little Maltese.

Having tried various responses such as: “Sorry – Little Monkey doesn’t know how to play – She wasn’t socialised as a puppy – This is how she plays” etc  I’ve found that the best strategy is simply to walk up to the owner and his dog and diffuse the situation by saying with a friendly smile, “Sorry. She’s an Idiot, but she’s harmless.”

To which, the old man replied, “So am I!”

Miss Tinkerbell is down to Eight

I always let my dogs out in the garden at night, before putting them to bed. Every dog I’ve had would quickly relieve themselves and come back in again.

When I first got Little Monkey, I assumed she was doing the same thing; only to find large puddles on the kitchen floor in the morning. As she was such a young dog (only eighteen months) I was rather surprised that she would have a bladder problem, but had her urine checked anyway. It was fine, which meant maybe she had a physical problem, so she was put on oestrogen tablets. This made no difference at all.

I finally realised, that she had no problem what-so-ever. When I let her out to go to the loo, apparently she thought it was a great game, and ran around playing the whole time, till I called her in again; totally missing the point.

One night, I had just let her out, when she made a dash for the bushes. Next thing, she was chasing something along the wall, right on its tail. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see a thing. The scene played out before me in audio only; pattering of paws, crashing through undergrowth.

And I heard the rapid tinkling of the cat bell, as Miss Tinkerbell barely made it to the corner and over the wall to safety. She definitely lost one of her nine lives that night!


Mr Spaghetti Legs has a bad day

Mr Spaghetti Legs

Mr Spaghetti Legs

Mr Spaghetti Legs came to us about seven months ago. He was paw-picked by Little Monkey. She knew exactly what energy would be compatible with hers, so she picked a dominant old boy, with a calm energy, to off-set her anxiousness.

He had been at the animal rescue centre for nearly eleven years. No-one wanted to adopt him. Why? I don’t know.  He is white, with large brown spots on one side only, sort of like the markings of a Jack Russel, except that Mr SL is more of a collie cross. According to my vet, he has a pinched nerve in his spine, which may explain the wobbly back legs. (Hence his nick-name.)

I have never chosen a dog based on its looks, but rather its compatibility to fit in with our existing dogs and lifestyle. This was the first time I let my own dog choose, but that was vital, as Little Monkey is dominant-anxious, and my whole life is spent in calming her down. Any help I could get from a ‘new’ old boy, would be priceless.

The other night I heard Mr SL yapping and snarling and my first thought was that the dogs were fighting. I rushed through to the lounge, only to find that he had got his dew claw *caught in a ring on a tag on his collar. He couldn’t get it loose and it must have been jolly sore.

*How did he do this? He tends to clean his face like a cat, by licking his front paw and passing it over his ear.

As I stood there trying to grab the collar to take it off him, Little Monkey came rushing through from the kitchen, where she had put herself to bed already. She went straight up to Mr SL, and I could see instantly that she was about to attack him. I grabbed her and marched her back to the kitchen and shut the door. This was all done in silence; no barking, no words. By the time I got back to  poor Mr SL, he had managed to extricate his claw. We stood there together, and I hugged him, while our heart rates gradually fell below 200 again!

Why did Little Monkey want to attack the old boy, having shown no aggression towards him so far? She is a hunter. In her mind, she came to investigate the yelping, and saw a wounded animal writhing around on the ground, giving off all the signals of prey. This triggered her hunting instincts and she moved in to attack him.

I was not angry with Little Monkey; after seven years together, I understand her. She acted purely on instinct. She and Mr SL are the best of friends again. Though I have since removed Mr SL’s collar!


Horse sense

So you don’t come across horses everyday, which makes it interesting when you do.

The first time my rescue dog Mr Spaghetti Legs saw a horse, we had just got back in the car after a nice long walk. A  horse and rider appeared, and decided to canter in circles on the field right by my car. Wow, thought Mr SL, and started barking to tell me how audacious this big animal was. I told him to stop, and tapped his neck. He then growled every time the horse circled past the car. Another tap and he sat there totally relaxed with a big grin on his face. (long walk and balanced dog.)

The first time Little Monkey saw a horse, we had also just finished a nice long walk and were sitting on a bench when a horse and rider approached. Anything new is scary to this rescued dog, so she leapt up in excitement, till I got her to sit still. The horse passed by us and the Idiot simply watched. However, when the horse was about 20 metres away it started to trot, and something clicked in Little Monkey’s head. It was quite obvious, that moment when Little Monkey saw the horse as prey. I snapped her out of it. If she had not been on a lead she would have chased after the horse and I wonder what she would have done once she got nearer and realised the horse was actually massive, not the tiny animal it had appeared to be from the bench!