Our two dogs, Bolt and Coona, make a really great mouse hunting team. Bolt, the quicker of the two, has lightning fast reflexes and can snatch a mouse straight out of the air. Coona, who is the hound, usually flushes mice out to Bolt by rushing in between feed bins and spooking them out in his direction. It’s fantastic to watch their cooperation!
While Coona is the second-in-command mouse hunter, she is the leader when it comes to duck and chicken herding. We recently noticed that her legacy as a hound/shepherd mix, makes her an excellent and very focused duck and chicken caretaker. Because our birds are pasture raised and free ranging, they are often ending up in places where they shouldn’t be! One of these places is the backyard. The backyard fencing is cattle paneling, which means that birds can easily slip in and out of the yard. Until recently, Jason or I would herd the ducks out of the yard ourselves before letting the dogs outside, but ultimately some would sneak right back in. It took us only a few days of watching Coona interact with these daring ducks to realize how gentle she could be when herding them back through the fence towards the woods. Bolt, on the other hand, has always needed a bit more coaxing in order to be gentle with the birds. He just gets so excited!
Coona impresses us every day with how much she loves her job. She will quietly and contentedly lay near the back fence waiting for a chick to pop through and then slowly, and with complete focus, usher the chick back through to his side of the fence. Bolt is often watching this… He usually keeps a check on himself so that he doesn’t chase the birds too intensely or grab one with his mouth. It’s amazing to watch Coona be so delicate with ducks and chickens. She interacts with them very lovingly, with great tenderness, and with great concern for the rules. We would love to be able to say that we taught her to be such a great herding dog, but it’s just not true. It’s in her blood!
Considering the great working team that Bolt and Coona are, it’s no wonder that they have a fantastic time outside together securing the homestead and caring for the animals!