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One of the areas where I go horseback riding has been colonized by some ground nesting birds. These birds can be a little dangerous for horseback riders. They hide motionless in the grass until you are within ten or fifteen feet. Then they panic and shoot upwards with much commotion, usually startling the heck out of the unsuspecting horse.

After yet another bird encounter resulted in an unseated rider, cracked ribs, and a loose horse running along the road, we decided we needed canine assitence in dealing with these fowl. One of my friends has a standard poodle which she volunteered for escort duty. Great! Poodles are bird dogs, right? He gets a lovely romp in woods doing what his ancestors were bred to do; we get protection against stealth attacks from birds. We led the dog out into the field, turned him loose, and proceeded on our ride.

Happy poodle bounced left. He bounced right. He ran in circles around the horses. Good job, boy. Keep at it. Scout the perimeter. Then he took off down a side path. Not so good. We stopped the horses, called him back, and waited, chatting, while he trundled up the path to us. He pranced up with a happy grin on his face and went straight to his owner in hopes of getting a treat. At that moment a bird which had remained hidden this entire time chose to launch itself out of the grass with much flapping and feather whooshing. The horses flinched but didn't do much otherwise. The poodle, however, yelped in surprise and scooted to hide behind a horse. Sigh. City boy! So much for our big brave bird dog. :rolffleyes:
 

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haha that's so funny. My dog Matrix is TERRIFIED of feathers, but he'll gladly chase birds. I guess it's time for a new dog :p
 

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Teddy used to chase birds, but now he just watches them without reacting. I actually saw a little bird walk right under his feet at the park one day with absolutely no reaction from Ted. One of those wish I had my camera moments!
 

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I've been getting Vegas's prey drive up for hunting.. he would have chased that sucker like it was no ones business! Rofl.



... and then bring it back to you.
 

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Ew, Jackson has actually caught a bird or two and leaves an ugly bloody feathered mess. He would have routed that bird out!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We gave poodle boy another shot at being a canine defender. We frequently encounter groundhogs as well as birds on our rides. The groundhogs themselves don't bother the horses. They are fairly shy and dive for cover as soon as they notice us. The problem is that they dig tunnels and undermine the trails. The horse steps on what looks like solid ground, only to have an unseen tunnel collapse underneath a leg. Getting a hoof caught in a burrow could injure a horse or rider severely, perhaps even fatally if the horse breaks a leg or falls down on top of a rider. Consequently, we like to discourage groundhogs from taking up residence along side the trails where we ride.

This time we brought along a canine mentor for poodle boy. Canine mentor is an experienced trail dog and hunter extraordinaire. He trotted along alertly with a businesslike attitude radiating from every hair and pore. He ignored pleas from poodle boy to run circles and play--he had a real job to do. Eventually poodle boy caught the hint and settled down to groundhog hunting too.

Twenty minutes later the dogs flushed a groundhog. They weren't close enough to actually catch it, so it jumped into its hole and escaped. Poodle boy stuck his head down the hole in hopes that the varmint might reemerge. Of course, varmint wasn't suicidally stupid. It stayed well underground. Meanwhile, canine mentor started sniffing around the entire area. Sure enough, he flushed another young groundhog. Young varmint ran for his life towards home, straight between poodle boy's hind legs, and dove into the hole. Poodle boy turned to canine mentor with an expression of, "What the heck just happened?" Canine mentor gazed back at poodle boy with a look that simply said, "Dude, you are so unbelievably lame." :fish:
 
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