By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin --(Ammoland.com)- If you are a gardener and you are battling with critters eating your tomato plants you are not going to like this column.
If you just moved to the US from Australia and know of the horrific damage that rabbits do to that continent you will think poorly of this article.
Maggie is our Jack Russell terrier that we found in Mississippi. She is sort of a mixed dog but she looks and acts like a Jack Russell. We refer to her as a rat dog, meaning she was bred to hunt rodents.
Actually Jack Russells are fox terriers that were bred to hunt foxes in England. Whatever they were originally bred for they are definitely rodent killing machines. I once read where a Jack Russell killed 52 rats in one day.
When we were stationed in Mississippi the youth center on Columbus AFB had two gerbils in a cage for the children to take care of. They were supposed to be both males but one turned out to be female and the baby gerbils started appearing. The nice ladies at the youth center instructed the kids to go home and convince their parents that a loving home was needed for the new Air Force gerbils. Of course our daughter felt we should have a bunch of these cute little rodents. Along with Maggie we also had a second Jack Russell named Tommy at the time, and there was no way we were going to have pet gerbils sharing a home with our hardwired-to-kill, Jack Russells.
Fast forward, we are living in Colorado Springs and the three of us are taking the dogs for a walk. On a city sidewalk a rabbit hops right up to us and stops inches from Maggie the mighty hunter. In a flash Maggie takes the rabbit’s neck in her mouth, snapped it, drops the dead carcass on the sidewalk, then stared up at us with the “OK, let’s move on” look and headed for home.
The daughter turns to us with an expression of shock and disbelief. At that moment I reminded her why we never took any of the gerbils in as family pets. Over the years Maggie has hunted down mice, rats, rabbits and one very startled bird.
There was this bird in the back yard that would sit in a tree and squawk at Maggie trying to drive her nuts. One day the bird screwed up and perched on a branch at the six foot level and began to torment Maggie. Maggie from a dead stop leaped six feet straight up and put that terrorist bird out of its misery. We saw her do it from the back window and before we could get to her she had eaten the bird.
In our current home in Milwaukee County we have a wooden fence and a perhaps over-planted back yard that came with the house when we bought it. The local “cheese-head” rabbits love our back yard. We have lots of ground cover to hide in and lots of green stuff to eat. There have been signs of animal remains both feather and fur in our back yard these past two years and even a couple of dead baby bunnies. The other night Maggie flushed out a mother rabbit and three bunnies, but they all scattered and got away. One of the bunnies fell into a basement window well and I had to help it out.
Maggie is thirteen now and slowing down a little.
I hurriedly got Maggie in the house and looked out to see momma rabbit nursing her babies in the middle of my yard (something I had never seen before). They were on their backs scrunched up under mom, drinking away. Their little feet were kicking in the wind. I got out my binoculars and told the Colonel to come take a look. I know it is not manly to use the word “cute” but these little baby rabbits were just so darn cute. We watched the mother and her babies for a while and after they were full they hopped off to safety. To make sure Maggie would leave them alone we kept the dogs out of the back yard that night. Not to worry our dog-children got two extra dog walks that evening. This was more to keep Maggie’s mind off that back door and what was out there waiting for her to kill.
As I picked up Maggie to put her on our bed (she cannot jump like the old days) I commented it as a good day and no bunnies died tonight.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret. / email@example.com
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” firstname.lastname@example.org