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Cairn Terriers may be wonderful housepets but trust me, the instinct never goes away! Warning! A bit gross with a dead rodent involved.


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Our fenced back yard is about an acre and a half, "puppy paradise". Our neighbor to the rear has about three acres of fenced field, weeds, gophers, rabbits and all. He's a great neighbor so that's all fine but where we and everyone else around here have cared for lawns and gardens he basically has a rodent preserve, so what er ya gonna do :confused:?

Our house is dissected by our fence seperating,the front yard from the rear. The fence also cuts our elevated deck (about 3 feet) in half with the back half enclosed so the dogs can't escape from underneath it and the front half open and accessible from the front yard behind a potentilla hedge.

That's the lay out, here's the story.

Gus has been with us since he was 8 weeks old and turned 6 on May 18th, he's well over breed standard (20LBS) and it's all muscle and total devotion to family. Geeze I love that dog! Kat is 2 years and new to us this year and she's a recovering show dog, love her just as much but she's a fistful to work with and I'm sure she'll never be trained to the level that Gus is (he's quite advanced).

To cut to the chase, today I see a gopher running along our fence which has the bottom buried and he's heading for the deck that he promptly ran under. about the last 4 feet of his mad dash was observed by Kat and Gus I could tell from in the house by the changed pitch of their barking. I ran out and Kat was already starting to think about tunneling under our burried fence to get to the front of the deck at the gopher. As you well know if one of these brilliant little Einstein's ever figures an egress route out of someplace it'll never be forgotten so I was a bit panicked :shock: . I knew too, as long as that gopher was under that deck those Cairns would be obsessed :devil: . Kat has been in kennels, crates, show rings and our back yard all her life and the one time she got loose from me the freedom seemed to drive her mad and she took off in a straight line as fast as her wittle legs could carry her til a fenced back yard blocked her. Me off course running like a madman through everyones back yard trying in vain to catch up, scared me to death!! As Gus has hardly been outta my sight for six years and is as mentioned trained to a high and controllable level I quickly opted to use him as my solution before she pulled the off great escape and turned into a female Houdini for ever more.

I called Gus and took him out the front gate and he instinctively took over. He tore around the front of the hedge and bailed under the deck. This dog show bloodlined dog had that gopher is a blink and his head was a blur shaking it side to side. He was shaking it so hard his front feet were coming off the ground and in literally less than 5 seconds the little lawn wrecking garden destroyer was completely eviscerated :sick: . It was the most effecient gopher eradication you could possibly imagine and from my sweet little buddy that sleeps on my feet at night with Merlin the cat on top of him no less.

The most surprising part of the whole deal was to follow however. After absolutely destroying that field rat in about 5 seconds Gus just dropped him like a hot rock, he sniffed him once to make sure he wasn't playing possum and then just trotted out from under the deck like nothing ever happened. No interest whatsoever in his vanquished foe, "NONE". That surprised me, a cat woulda played with that thing for an hour, probably brought it into the house alive and let it run free like they sometimes do with mice they catch in the garage going to and from the kennel. Wonder If I could get Gus to give em rodent terminating lessons?

Sorry this is so long (if you're still reading), I've just heard so much about their instincts and to see em in action is something to behold (if a bit gross). They are indeed very serious little warriors!!

Edited by montdoug

Have you hugged your Cairn today?

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We don't have gophers as we live in a big city, however mice are fairly abundant in our back yards. Jock does the same thing, quick as greased lightening , kill the prey with a swift bite or a good shake....then total disinterest! I don't know if it's because our Cairns are all well fed, or is it just centuries of breeding coming to the surface, but anything small and fast lurking in the grass is fair game .Our Scottish terrier would eat mice, but jock shows no interest also once he has done his job:)

Until one has loved an animal, a part of  one's soul remains unawakened.  - Anatole France

Adventures with Sam &Rosie


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Yes, I kept reading - it was a great story. Really enjoyed it. Demps would love to catch a gopher. I have been taking him out in the pasture, but he hasn't perfected his hunting skills - he has a heck of a time - needs a few lessons from Gus. Way to go Gus! Kat? What did Kat do when Gus killed the gopher?

Elsie, Max, Meeko & Lori


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, I've just heard so much about their instincts and to see em in action is something to behold (if a bit gross). They are indeed very serious little warriors!!

Yep, we find mole and lizard remains on a somewhat regular basis in our small, fenced in back yard. I know when one of my crew wants to go out and stays out for an extended time that the hunt is on. They also aspire to nabbing the squirrels at the squirrel-I-mean-bird feeder. No luck yet!

Max and Nelly

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I also enjoyed reading your story and stayed with it. In the area we live in (forested) there are turkeys which she will bark at but what does interest her is the squirrels and chipmunks. The later love our bird feeders and Layla will spend hours sitting atop the couch watching them intently. The minute a squirrel makes it way on our deck, Layla will start barking and jumping down and run to the front door wanting to be let out. However, the chipmunks are a different story - they know Layla is on the deck and will run back and forth from the ground under the feeders back to the rock wall and will halt in midstream and entice Layla - knowing it drives her crazy. It's almost like they each know of the existence of one another but tolerate (barely) one another.

I'm not sure what Layla might do if she were to catch one.

Husband and dog missing ...25 cents reward for dog

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Also kept reading and enjoyed your story. I think your backyard is well patrolled with Gus around. It's amazing to see (or read) how our cairns respond to their natural prey. So far I have not experience this with my two. We recently moved and they have had to stay on a leash until we put up a fence, which should be done within the next week. Then the squirrels, birds and rodent critters better stay away.

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I know when one of my crew wants to go out and stays out for an extended time that the hunt is on...

And WHY does this usually happen on the last run of the night? I was out in the yard with a flashlight at midnight, trying to (quietly) shoo the boys inside, but Gavin was on the hunt! I could hear a mole squeaking. I think it finally got away, but boy Gavin is really tenacious! He'll easily hunt for an hour, going through the shrubs, darting here and there. Zekey joins in the search, but he's not as focused if his pillow is calling. :lol:

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Great story.

Angus is driven crazy by chipmunks like most of your cairns. He now gives a fairly good mini cairn scream each time I let hm out on to the deck. If I didn't know what the real scream was like I'd think this was terrifying. Every chippie for miles around must hear it and shudder. :devil:

He hasn't caught one yet. In fact we don't see them too often any more.

I think he might eat one if he did catch it. This morning out walking he found the remains of a freshly killed rabbit. A coyote snack no doubt as I saw footprints. He dragged it about a bit then tore off a small bit and chomped away. Thought I'd better not let him have the rest.

So maybe I don't need to feed him breakfast - just let him find his own. I was thinking about switching to raw food but it's expensive to buy - this way is free! :idea:

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when i lived above a wetlands, sammy killed a couple of mice that were foolish enough to come inside - he presented them to chelsea, my alpha female, who ate them - cubby killed one once and presented it to me - i did not eat it...

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Very cool story. I probably would've let Boo hunt random rodents but just yesterday I read a new story out of Portland,OR ( I live 10mi away ) about a guy who got the plague from his cat after it had killed an infected rodent. Mortality rate is only 16% for Bubonic Plague these days, but still, scary stuff!

Edited by Rawrkats
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