Wretched dogs! First of all Dolly returns from Cass’s with a limp, cause unidentified, then Betty springs a matching limp. I find a small gash in her leg, no doubt sustained while jumping over that fence yesterday, and bandage it up. Within minutes she’s licked the bandage off. I re-bandage and tape the leg and we go for a walk, for, despite their injuries, the walking wounded are champing at the bit to go out.
As soon as they’re let loose, limp forgotten, Betty goes haring off into the hedgerows. She emerges with no bandage and a young hen pheasant in her mouth.
‘Come here, Betty!’
She bounds over and stands proudly with her stunned trophy drooping from her mouth.
After a bit of resistance she drops it, allowing Hoagy the terrier to pile in.
'Hoagy! Leave it!'
I manage to lasso both dogs with their rope leads and haul them off. The poor pheasant waddles and flaps back into the hedgerow.
I keep the dogs on the leads until the next field but the minute I remove their nooses, they’re off again. Once more there’s a terrible clucking and squawking as pheasants scramble from the hedges. In the distance Betty appears with another bird in her mouth, with Hoagy bowling along in pursuit like a little ball of tumbleweed. Betty races towards me and presents her prize, this time a young cock pheasant, who’s looking resigned to his fate.
‘Drop!’ I cry.
Betty drops, the bird scuttles and flaps, and so Betty grabs it again.
Betty wags her tail and holds on.
She drops and Hoagy pounces, plucking mouthfuls of tail feathers in an instant.
‘Hoagy! Drop!’ But terriers don’t understand commands. I manage to lasso the dogs again and pull them off. The pheasant lies there, scrawny-bummed, breathing heavily. As I drag the dogs away, the pheasant flaps to its feet and limps off across the field.