Sunday, 18 November 2007


Listening to: Bristol v Stade Francais
What's for tea: Shepherd's pie
Weather: steady rain
Drinking: Argentinian Chardonnay

A wet blanket of a day on Westray, but we finally ventured outside at around 3pm as the light started to dim rapidly.

As a rabbit-control measure, I try to take the dogs for a tour around the edge of the two fields to sniff down burrows, snap and snarl a bit and leave their 'scent' all over the place.

We were in the top field, near the house, when. . . well, I was going to say Owen - our lovely, but intellectually challenged collie/spaniel cross - caught a rabbit, but accidentally bumped into one would be more accurate. The rabbit was toast, he had no chance as Owen was right on top of him. Bugs squeaked pathetically and waited for the worst.

Only the worst never happened. Owen wasn't sure exactly what he should be doing and once our long-eared friend cottoned on, he was off, through the fence and heading for the front door of the house.

Owen set off in pursuit, leaping the fence and following the rabbit which had darted into one of the two derelict stone buildings in front of the barn. I and a frantic Spike (on a lead because of his colourful 'previous') took the long way round, going to the gate and making our way to the outbuildings where a chase worthy of a cartoon was in full swing.

Rabbit and dog flew through the bottom half of the pig shed, both dived out of a window, an impressive splash indicating that Owen had fallen straight into the soakaway/pool at the back of the barn.

He emerged soaked through, shook himself and looked around before the rabbit popped up again and the chase was on again. Owen caught him a second time. Spike was yapping desperately (the canine equivalent of "bite and shake, you moron" I assume), but again the rabbit got away. Owen, with a fair share of sheepdog in his bloodline, had no intention of killing and was trying to round him up.

By now we had done a full circuit of the house and buildings and I was the only one who knew where the rabbit was (cowering near the septic tank). As I'm not quite ready to join my friend Nick as a bare-hands rabbit killer, I called it a day and literally called the dogs off.

Owen, bless him, hasn't stopped wagging his tail since, while Spike looks at him the way a team-mate looks at the footballer who has missed a vital penalty.


Amy said...

Malc, what a wonderful viivd story of your dogs' chase. I think I shall enjoy visiting The Edge of Nowhere :-)

smart said...

It looks like you need to get your shotgun ASAP - but be careful of Owen getting in the way as he tries to herd your prey! Or perhaps you could train him to be a gun-dog and wait until you have done the deed before bringing it back. What do you think?

Georgie said...

Malc, Fancy missing the chance of a hot stew, I can see you require further lessons in killing for dinner. Nick

Malc said...


Hello and thanks.


The rifle licence application is in the post. I'm not sure about Owen as a gundog. How do you think your sister would react to an accident.


I know, I'm a miserable failure. Do I have to hand back the face camouflage and cheese wire?

Z said...

Tilly chases rabbits like that and it's very entertaining to watch - she isn't quick enough for an adult rabbit nowadays. She does know what to do when she's caught a young one, though.

Malc said...

Owen is nothing if not a good laugh. Somehow the thought of him killing anything doesn't fit. Spike, on the other hand. . .

The Birdwatcher said...

If he had been playing for us it would have been twat in the hat. A great story and a happy ending!

I, like the view said...

if I had a tail, I think I'd be wagging it.. .

if you know what I mean


fiwa said...

I think I'm too tender-hearted to be a farmer. I was rooting for the rabbit, though I must say your last paragraph had me laughing.

elizabethm said...

Good to have you visit mine and enjoyed your blog. I love Orkney. My lovely FIL was stationed there in the war and it was clearly a major thing in his life. He came from the industrial north west, is a taciturn type and describes it, utterly uncharacteristically, as "the land of milk and honey" (think he had heard the phrase as a boy in sunday school).

Brad said...

It sounds like peer presure in the canine world is a bit rougher than our human world. God bless the fur-kids.

ziggi said...

I had a spaniel x collie - looked exactly like Owen! (Called Ziggi!) She could swim for England, windsurf, escape, bite the postman, but once was similarly surprised by a baby squirrel falling out of the tree into her mouth. She held it for a while and dropped it in disgust. I scampered back up the tree, damp but unharmed.

He's a lovely dog.

Pod said...

goodness me! are you alright all the way out there?

Malc said...


He hasn't even offered to buy a jug.


I hope that means you're happy. Like your little symbol thingy. Haven't got the hang of those at all.


My mates, Reg in particular, tell me I'm too soft-hearted for this. Time will tell.


Hello. Land of milk and honey? Heavens! It is a terrific place and 90 per cent of the time I'm glad I made the move.


Spike has always been higher up the pecking order than Owen, despite being a third his size. He steals Owen's toys and hides them, emerging days later to parade them triumphantly around the room.


That sounds just like Owen. I haven't put him on the windsurf board yet. Think I'll wait for summer, although he loves to swim, even at this time of year.


Hello. Yep, we're fine in a slightly hysterical way.