Tuesday, May 17, 2005

carnage, continued...

A few days ago, I reported on the dead baby rabbits in my front garden. Was it Franklin the dog or was it the neighborhood cat from a few doors down who was close by peeking in very seriously from behind a yew?

I kept Franklin out of the garden or on a very short leash, and another one showed up. Aha, I said to myself, it was the cat, or some other predator. As I also reported earlier, a hawk had chased the mother a couple of weeks ago, coming within three or four feet of us one evening.

Yesterday, when I came home, Partner yelled down the stairs that Franklin had killed another baby rabbit when he took him outside after work. The dog's on a leash, and the rabbits are moving around among the perennials.

Later, I took the dog outside, and we went all the way near to the street. No baby rabbits had been sighted there. A neighbor stops by to talk, and asks for an identification of a plant she had put in the ground last year. It was a brilliant purplish blue flowered spiderwort. I took her to the edge of my garden to show her my pink flowered ones. As we chatted, the dog made a quick jump into the foilage and pulled out another baby rabbit.

I don't like to kill the animals running through our yard. I suppose if they were chewing everything in sight, I would think differently, but we have gotten along ok. I've kept the dog away from the mature rabbit when I've seen her and the dog has not. Last year I hit a squirrel with my car -- it made a suicidal dash right towards the front of my car at the last moment -- and I felt bad about it.

At the very least, I think there is probably a morally neutral relationship between the wildlife and the people who live beside them. If the hawk had gotten the mother rabbit, wouldn't that have been the circle of life? I don't put poisons or traps out. I certainly wouldn't condone cruel acts to them, and now better informed about Franklin and these rabbits, I will take him to the backyard -- where the chipmonks are, and the voles.

The other day, I saw a big fat squirrel on my neighbor's feeder, hanging from a long wire off of a very high white pine limb. How, I thought, did the squirrel get there and how will it get away. I waved my hands, and the squirrel then pulled itself up the hanging wire, much like a marine climbing a rope in a gymnasium. The squirrel was fat and fluffy, unlike any soldier in training. Bravo, I thought as the squirrel climbed back down the wire to continue feeding. That is an amazing skill.

My dog, a terrier, is a bred rodent killer. I've tried to discourage and prevent his blood lust. But it happened yesterday in the garden. Twice.


Shelley said...

Your dog is acting on instinct, and protecting his territory. Perhaps he really is, because if you had several more rabbits in your yard, you may be losing a great deal more of your plants.

We had four hawks that took care of our over abundance of squirrels the beginning of this spring, and it looks like they may also be keeping the bunnies down, too.

I try not to harm wild creatures, and we put seed out on our front walk for whichever creatures appreciate it; but am less worried about the animals who have learned to live with people, then I am the ones who try to find a home in the little wild land we leave them -- and perhaps not succeeding.

Shelley said...

PS -- we don't put seed out when the hawks are around. No need to make it easy for them.

Don said...

Yes, I certainly agree that we share space with these animals, and unless they are a threat to life (e.g., rabid racoons, or chewed through wires, major destruction of property, attacks on pets or people) I am quite content to live and let live.

One of the reasons that I don't put a lot of pesticide in my garden is because I like the fact that butterflies, bees, & hummingbirds have found it a hospitable place. I figure they enjoy the flowers (or find uses for them) that far exceeds my own few moments of pleasure in being in the garden.

I can't get mad at Franklin for doing what he was bred to do. But I do feel a responsibility in preventing and not encouraging such behavior.

lemming said...

Franklin is probably quite pleased with himself and can't figure out why you and Partner don't share his delight, yes?

Always a pleasure to read about Franklin - in a way I'm pleased that his injuries haven't stopped him from being a dog. At teh same time, I share your qualms - I've knowingly killed one squirrel and it still bothers me, years later.

Militant Housewife said...

While I was quite proud of our mutt, I mean CROSS-BREED (he was the sensitive type)for keeping the coyotes and deer out of the yard and garden , I was more than a bit upset when he started running them down and killing them. He insisted on bringing them too us as a gift. I guess there is a point at which we must admit that our beloved pets are ,after all, animals. Blessings on you, dog and the rabbits.

Don said...

militant ... thanks for your words of blessing. I am sure that my dog is as perplexed by human behaviors as I am sometimes of his.