On the other note, a big THANK YOU for all the submissions for the blog. We really appreciate them. This is a very busy time of the year, and our hands are full. We will be posting as quickly as we can, but sometimes there will be a delay, and sometimes there will be 2-3 articles/reports posted on the same day. Above all we want the blog to be educational and interesting, so we always welcome reports that allow all of us to learn something new. Also because of the time constraints, the less editing I have to do, the faster the post will appear on the blog. If I have to pull info from various sources, like Facebook and several e-mails, that usually takes more time.
Garmin's Outings by Teddy Moritz
Garmin is a two year old miniature longhaired dachshund, about eight pounds with a 13 inch chest. She runs rabbits for me in the winter, and trees squirrels as well. She's a pretty good hole dog but lacks a certain amount of confidence, which I believe is an inherited trait. I know her sire and dam, and both are dogs who are happier when told what to do rather than think independently. Those traits are not a bad thing, all around, making the dogs very voice-controlled and obedient but also less likely to be the ones out and about finding game. Despite raising Garmin from about 9 weeks, she shows her sire's "please give me instructions" attitude. Not always, but enough that I have started taking her out alone, even leaving the lurcher home. If he's along she'll look to him for game. She does hunt out and knows where to find game but isn't quite the A-team.
In hunting her by herself I have seen an improvement in her earthwork. She's fine on rabbits, she just needed some confidence doing earthwork on harder quarry. Last spring she did confront and bolt a vixen in a natal den, taking a bite and coming out looking surprised. She went back in and moved the fox till it bolted. Garmin is by no means a hard dog but she'll stay with her quarry if it is in front of her. However, when I used her to dig groundhogs she would give up if the chuck back-filled a lot before I could dig to her. With this hot dry summer the ground was very hard and I sometimes just couldn't get there.
Recently Garmin and her kennel mate Bane got into a quarry under a pile of very long, thick telephone poles. Bane moved it more than Garmin even though there seemed to be several tunnel openings. I heard Bane growl Garmin off a few times, which did nothing for her confidence. Finally Bane cornered the quarry under a buried telephone pole, which was weighted down by several more poles. I wasn't able to dig to the quarry nor was I able to bar the poles off the area. The quarry was apparently in the back of a slightly wider portion of the den so the two dogs could work side by side. From the growling I knew we had a possum. It had been awhile since the dogs had seen any earth quarry so I let them work it. It was good to hear the dogs in a confrontation. The lurcher was with us and he lay nearby waiting for some action.
After awhile I cleared the dusty, sandy soil away from the entrance and could see Bane working the possum. I could hear Garmin but didn't know quite where she was in the den. That precluded any thoughts of shooting Ol Smiley, which I really didn't want to do. It wasn't doing any harm to crops where it was and I don't like killing something I can't use for meat for the dogs. I cut through some roots and then ran my trowel next to Bane. When I touched the possum both dogs grabbed hold and began pulling. I think Garmin was pulling against Bane so not much happened except the possum kept growling. Eventually I could see the possum's foot and helped Bane pull it. By then it had 'sulled' and there was no fight or growling. When I slowly pulled the possum out Garmin was attached to it as well. I think this work was good for her as I let her work and Bane didn't keep her away. Sometimes if Garmin doesn't stick with her quarry I'll pull her out and let Bane work it. That surely isn't good for her confidence but I am always anxious to get to the quarry.
Next time out Garmin bayed a groundhog I saw run in. This den is a difficult one because it is under a heavily trafficked farm road, basically compacted clay. The road drops off about ten feet to a railroad track. The ground under the clay is very light sand and there is one den opening at the bottom of the slope. The groundhog also had an entrance at the edge of the road. It was a tight opening because someone had shoved a big limb into the hole. Garmin squeezed her way past the wooden obstacle and began barking. I let her work because I've lost chucks in this den before. Her barking moved to the middle of the road but at two feet. I thought I ought to be able to dig that much. I started to dig and bar met very, very hard clay. Meanwhile my noise moved the groundhog a few feet further along, and Garmin's bark and the locator collar indicated her whereabouts under ground. Then she shifted to the bottom den opening and I alerted the lurcher, who was resting in the shade of the car, the day being very sunny and hot. He went down to the hole, sniffed and came back up. I heard Garmin bark near the hole but then her barking receded back up the slope. No bolt today.
I found her again and pounded and dug and pounded and dug, feeling as if I was making no progress at all. Very frustrating. Garmin came out once or twice, coated in yellow sand. She would sniff the hole down the slope then re-enter the top hole. I got the feeling the groundhog was walling her off or going deep, burying itself in the sand. After awhile I took a break to get some water and Garmin came out again. I let her wander around and gave her water also. The she went down the slope. I waited awhile and didn't hear her bark so I got out the locator. I couldn't get a signal so presumed the groundhog had indeed gone quite deep, off the box. I turned the box to search mode and still couldn't find the dog. I looked along the rest of the slope thinking perhaps the chuck had bolted and she was in a different hole. I walked along the edge of the roadway and used the locator but got no signal. Had the battery gone dead in the collar?
Suddenly I heard a yip from across the railroad tracks, in a thick bit of brush, trees and briars. I saw Garmin come out, her tail wagging and her nose down. She trailed back into the briars, gave some more yips. I knew then she'd given up on the woodchuck and was running a rabbit. At first I was disappointed but since the digging was so difficult and I was making no progress, I had to laugh. Garmin knew we weren't going to get the varmint and since she likes to run rabbits she left me to my worthless efforts and went and found herself some quarry that ran and left a nice track. I let her run for awhile as hawking season is approaching and she needs practice on cottontails.
On another day I took Garmin to a big woodlot bordered by peach orchards on one side and a river on the other. Squirrel season is open and I know Garmin will tree the bushytails. The leaves are still thick on the trees so seeing a treed squirrel isn't easy. Basically I just wanted to again work Garmin alone. She did a good job of hunting out through the trees and swamp and barked tree once but the tree was full of holes so no squirrel was on the outside. We even bumped a deer but Garmin is so soft I yelled at her and told her no and she came off the deer right then. Running deer will just get a dog killed as the deer often go right to a road.
As we came out of the woods there appeared a three hole den right at the edge of the woods. Hello! Garmin indicated one hole and barked into it. Good enough. I called her off and walked her to the car. I drove back to the den and let her go in. She soon was barking and digging. I located her and the den seemed to curve right back to one of the openings. I quickly shoveled it full of sand since I only had the shotgun and not the lurcher. If the chuck had bolted it would have been gone to another den. I dug to Garmin after I cut away greenbriar and shrubs. There were lots of roots to cut away as I dug into the soft sand. Garmin kept going each time I opened to her and each time I cleaned away the roots. The last time she moved up I heard a lot of growling from the quarry. I thought I was digging to another possum. However, Garmin kept moving sand back, as if something was backfilling. After one time I opened to her there was a wall of sand and roots ahead of her. She came out and wandered off, as if she felt she had lost the quarry. I let her go and waited. When she came back I encouraged her to re-enter and she did. I had cleared the den while she was off thinking and she smelled her quarry and began digging and barking again. It was as if she decided she could do this with my help.
The den went a big deeper, running under one of the exits so I had more digging to do just to get to the the den. I barred and found it, then opened to it, cutting roots and using the post hole digger to clear the sand. I guess I got to the quarry because Garmin forced her way up the tunnel and really began barking. The growling continued. I decided to shoot the quarry rather than dig another hole. I put the .22 to use and the growling stopped. Garmin slid up the tunnel, barked a few times then began tugging. She pulled and yanked and bounced up and down in her efforts. I let her work, feeling she had earned this reward by staying with the quarry after all. I then saw the back toes of the critter and I took hold too. It was a big groundhog and it wasn't quite dead so Garmin and I pulled it slowly out and I administered some more lead. Then I let Garmin pull it all the way out. It was a very fat, heavily furred groundhog. I let Garmin chew on it a bit and of course took a hero shot with the camera. I was pleased that she stayed with the quarry after one mental setback. I think she will continued to stay at back-filled walls know that she better knows I will help her and that she can succeed.