On my daily walks along the canal with the dogs we often see wildlife. The list thus far has included deer, a beaver, a muskrat, bullfrogs, a turtle, Canada Geese, Mallards, Kingfishers, White pelicans, California Quail, and Mourning Doves. Ali particularly enjoys "pointing out" the quails. So yesterday morning I'm walking the dogs and we had just crossed the bridge to turn south on the canal road when Ali drops into the most beautiful point. I was puzzled at first because she was pointed in the direction of the canal. Just across the canal is a place where there are often quail, but Ali usually ignores the birds that aren't on our side of the canal. After a moment I realized that she was pointing at a little mink on the canal bank not six feet away from us.
At this point Oreo lunged after the mink which then moved down the bank to hide in the horsetails growing there. Oreo was extremely lucky that I had a firm grip on his leash and he wasn't able to have his heart's desire at that very moment. If he had gotten loose that little mink would have probably rearranged his face and caused him some serious injury. The expression "Wild as a mink" has a very firm basis in fact. They are very much like a weasel with bigger teeth and claws. Fortunately, I kept my grip on his leash and Oreo still has his rakish good looks.
The close encounter with the mink got both of the dogs seriously excited. Ali was in serious hunting mode for the remainder of the walk. I am amazed at her energy when she gets into hunting mode. It is hard to reconcile that with her 13 years of age. Oreo often tugs hard at his leash, but usually settles down by the second half of the walk. After meeting the mink, they both drug me along all the way back to our driveway.
I looked up minks on wikipedia after we had finished our walk. I didn't realize they lived in our area. I expected that they would more likely be found living in the mountains. As it turns out minks eat a lot of fish, frogs, and tadpoles and like to make their dens along rivers and creeks. In fact minks will often attack and kill muskrats and then take over their homes. Our canal is absolutely full of small fish, frogs, and tadpoles so I guess that was a perfectly natural place to find a mink.
Speaking of Ali's age. I found her pedigree as I was preparing to take her to see the vet. Her full name is Miss Ali Girl, born on July 3, 2003, the daughter of Valley View Bandit and Valley View Debby. Since English Setters are hunting dogs, the pedigree actually lists how well her immediate ancestors had performed in hunting field trials. Neither of her parents had participated in the field trials but it appears that her maternal grandparents were serious hunting dogs. Her maternal grandfather, Whiskyndick's Lad Duffy, had placed 16 times in field trials, while her maternal great grandfather, CH I'm Dick Too, had placed 51 times in field trials. However, the most serious hunting dog on her family tree was her grandmother's father, Tomoka's Smokin Mike, who placed 120 times in field trials and produced 49 winners among his numerous progeny. With that sort of family background it is no wonder that Ali has such strong hunting instincts and knows just what to do when she sniffs out some quail.