You can see my dogs are small and I think cute, but I don't treat them like toys or purse dogs (the Jack Russell would be horrified). I take them for walks and encourage them to explore their wild side. Imagine my surprise to find how truly blunted their predatory instinct is.
Last summer we camped at Dillberry Lake. It's small but the camping and walking trails are great. My daughter and I took the dogs for a long walk down to the lakeshore, through the aspen mixed bush. There weren't a lot of people around so to foster their canine character, we let them run off leash. We weren't far from the camper when we heard piercing, terrified squealing. Something was in mortal danger and crying for its life. My dogs had somehow surrounded a ground squirrel who was lying flat on his back, in the middle of the gravelled path, screaming. This ordinary bush gopher was shrieking...loud. His eyes bulged and his little ineffective paws pointed skyward. How could one small gopher make so much noise? My intrepid predators stood on either side. Oh, no. Surely the Jack Russell, whose ancestors followed foxes into their dens to kill them at the end of the chase, would make short work of the pathetic screeching rodent. She might suffer a nasty bite herself. The ground squirrel was trapped and desperate.
It turns out he was pretty safe. Both dogs kept a respectful distance with noses pointed curiously toward the gopher, sniffing delicately As they watched him cautiously, we were able to grab their collars and bring the stand-off to an end. The poor rodent didn't realize at first that he had been rescued. Then his expression softened and changed. His face registered his good luck and then he rolled onto his feet and ran for the safety of underbrush.
We released the dogs and in a sudden display of hunting fervour, the Jack Russell bounded into the bush. There was a lot of crackling and rushing about but the gopher didn't make a second mistake. The hunt was over.
PS- this picture is a Columbian ground squirrel. I am not sure that it is the species of what I call the bush gopher but the expression is accurate.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.