Sunday, November 6, 2016

Birdwatching with Ali

    Every day that I am home I start my day by taking Ali on a walk.  A purebred English Setter, Ali doesn't consider these walks to be recreational. As far as she is concerned she is on a hunting trip.  Ali spends most of our walk diligently nosing the ground for the scent of quail, straining at the leash until she smells what she is seeking.  Once she has found the scent, she goes into stalk mode, walking carefully and more slowly, looking for her prey.  When she finds the birds, she goes into the classic "on point" stance.  She takes her hunting seriously and I find her quite entertaining to watch. I would have never guessed she is 13 years old from watching her hunt for quail.  She also pointed at ducks when there was water in the canal and occasionally points at the doves or the herons.

A Grey Heron Roosting Above the Beaver Pond

    A few days ago Ali came to the point position quite suddenly pointing toward a thick brushy area along the canal road.  As I was looking for the quail I thought she had found, a mule deer doe jumped up from behind the brush, not ten feet away.   I guess that is why its illegal to hunt deer with dogs.  The deer rely so heavily on their camouflage and their ability to hide.  With a dog on their scent, the poor deer have no place to hide. A few months back she pointed at a mink on the canal bank.  It really is fun to watch her work.

     I had been giving Ali the freedom to roam our property as she seemed inclined to stay put.  However, she has recently started taking herself for "walks" down by the empty canal.  Her walks have included supplemental activities such as rolling in the dead fish in the drained canal and crawling through the brush collecting cockleburs.  After such a "walk" yesterday afternoon she came home a dirty nasty mess.  I gave her a bath and spent several hours combing the burrs out of her coat.  Wet dog may not be a pleasant smell, but it is light years better than dead fish.



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