A few days ago I was peering through the trees from the balcony of our remote house in the north of Thailand.
I was perplexed to spot a lone motorcyclist parked in the middle of the road in what can only be described as getaway mode. Of course this couldn’t be a bank robbery. A hit? I spotted the gunman creeping up to the house with an old rifle like one of those you see in classic period films like Zulu or Last of the Mohicans. Now I am no redcoat (if you’ve seen the aforementioned films you’ll get my drift) but as soon as I was spotted, the getaway was in full swing before a shot had even been fired. He was after one of our dogs.
Last year we acquired two puppies from the local dogs’ home. We were told they would both grow to be large and scary. Ideal guard dogs. Their parentage was unknown, but puppy paw size is apparently a good gauge of adult body size. One of our dogs didn’t read the rule book. She hardly grew. Maybe she has inherited a “short leg complex”, but she has continued to disobey the rules, culminating in her killing 19 chickens from a local farm. You might argue that one dog for a brood of chickens is a fair trade. But we’d already paid him off. I also hear the local market has been selling chicken breasts etched with tooth marks.
I would like to make one thing very clear: I am a dog lover. I even took our kids to see litter of bull terriers a few weeks ago (never again though). However, my true loyalties lie with wildlife and as such I have a feeling my allegiance might be misplaced. If there are dogs around then you won’t see wildlife. At least not on the ground. Think about how wild animals relate to you (i.e. scared stiff) and then add-on a loud bark, frenetic energy and corrupted instincts: Dogs will chase and eat anything (no need to be specialist hunters anymore) and fear nothing. Look out rabbit. Look out chicken.
Look out blackbird too. A recent survey indicated that dog walking can reduce bird species in a given area by up to 35%. And that is on a lead! So what to do? There are various groups that have been lobbying for the return of wild dogs to the UK. So how about trading our domestic terrors for the wild version? Crazy? Maybe not. Wolves don’t have time to chase and scare every living thing. They have to provide their own dinner and they’re fussier about what they eat. They’re also more discreet: They can’t run and hide in your living room when the farmer unbolts his gun cabinet.
(Editors note: The dog mentioned was shot yesterday afternoon. Although she took 35 buck shot pellets, the vet operated and the dog should be ok.)
An x-ray taken after the attack. The shotgun pellets are clearly visible.