As posted many times in pics on SMART DOGS facebook page, “wait” and “stay” are skills the Posse and I use multiple times a day. I couldn’t imagine our lives without these skills. Skills essential for a happy, safe, harmonious family – regardless of the number of dogs in said family.
Last evening in the field, I heard a high pitched cry and recognized it as a baby rabbit. Piglet had found one. A few minutes earlier in the same general area, Penelope had excitedly jumped at a rabbit outside the fence as he raced off to a safer place.
As soon as I heard the cry, I gave the Posse a “come” cue and reinforced their excellent responses – prompt ones amid high excitement and distraction. I then cued “stay” and went to locate the baby rabbit. I asked Piglet to help me.
Unlike GingerPeach, Rocky, Chibi, Penelope, and all my other dogs before her, Piglet has never tried to harm any of the animals she finds – kittens, fledgling birds, baby rabbits, *nests* of baby rabbits, moles, etc. During the past 10 years of living on this wildlife-rich property, she has shown me many rabbit nests. Always with a calm, curious, gentle demeanor.
I asked Piglet to “find it” and she put her head down and got busy searching. Sniff, sniff, sniff…Success! Piglet showed me where he was! A baby Cottontail who appeared just old enough for leaving the nest. I gently but quickly scooped him up, held him against my stomach, and covered him with my shirt (uncovered him to take the pics below). How adorable is he?!
I cued another “find it” for Piglet and motioned toward the ground. While she used her nose, I used my eyes and together we searched for additional baby rabbits and/or a nest but found neither.
Feeling comfortable that the area was clear of rabbits, I released the rest of the Posse and they *eagerly* joined the search party. I watched closely just in case additional finds were made. While Piglet and I shared the goal of search & rescue, I knew their goal was search & consume. After letting them enjoy a brief sniff fest’, I called everyone off and we moved a good distance away.
I snapped a few group pics while nonchalantly holding the baby rabbit. Rabbit? What rabbit? I don’t have a rabbit tucked in my shirt. I’m just taking pics of you guys. I then cued “stay” as the little rabbit and I set off to find a safe place for his release.
The Posse watched as I walked around sizing up a few different locations. I chose an area of tall grass where we often see rabbits emerge & retreat. His movements upon release looked good and he appeared unharmed. I’m sure a bit stressed but physically unharmed.
I walked back to the Posse. They were curious and excited, but had stayed beautifully. Such patient and helpful companions. Life with Successful, Motivated And Reliably Trained Dogs is wonderful for many, many reasons. I’m sure this baby rabbit agrees!
Piglet and I will be on the lookout for him and his many relatives. The rest of Posse will be doing the same, though their goal differs from ours.