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Bailey’s First Rabbit

by Emery C. Barg

The date was the 6th of December and I had just gotten home from work. I had been meaning to get out and run my dog all week, but the weather had not cooperated. There was a little snow left on the ground, the temp was around 37 degrees (according to NPR on the way home from work) and it wasn't raining. I figured that this might be my only chance this week.

Now, seeing that I have a 6-month-old little girl at home, (she loves my beagle and loves to be outside, even in the cold) I got an idea. I'd bundle her up and take her along with me. That sounded good in theory, but proved to be quite an undertaking. I get home around 4:00 pm, so there isn't much daylight left to hunt.

After getting her bundled up in her bright pink little snowsuit (Ok, it's not blaze orange but just as bright) and getting the dog loaded in the car, off we went. You might be wondering how in the world am I going to handle a dog and carry a baby and chase after rabbits. So, I'll tell you. We got a gift from our OB when Bailey was born called the Hip Hammock (http://www.hiphammock.com) that is cross between a sling and a wrap. It ties around your waist with a 2-inch strap and buckle and the baby sits in it like they were sitting on your forearm. The rest of the material supports the back and then wraps around your neck with a nicely padded strap. It really is quite comfortable. As for handling the dog, I am very fortunate that Hannah will come when called (though it may take a little yelling) and she will walk along side of me when we are finished for the day.

My destination for the day is the local watering hole, the reservoir just outside of town. It is dry now because we received such little rain this summer in southern Idaho, and there was only half the snow pack in the mountains last winter. Water has really been a precious commodity this year.

I parked the car and as I stepped out to let the dog out, I saw a jack running through the sage about 100 yards away. I was thinking that it might be a good day for running. I got Bailey all situated in the sling. I don't really think that they were originally intended for cold weather use, too many clothes. I let the dog out and we weren't out more than 5 minutes when the music started.

At first, Bailey didn't quite know how to take the sounds, but I managed to get close enough for her to see the dog and there was a grin from ear to ear. I backed off so the dog could work. Hannah made her way down through the sage into the red brush, which is where the edge of the reservoir would have been during the spring thaw. It would normally shrink down a little to the main body of water that lasts all summer. That is why the brush is there instead of the sage, plenty of water. Now it was dry and made for a good spot for cover and plenty of tender bark to nibble on.

We followed Hannah at a distance for quite some time. The running was pretty good. There were a few checks here and there, but she never lost that rabbit. I never did see what she was chasing. If I had to guess, I would say it was a cottontail due to the erratic trail that she followed.

The weather brought in some clouds and it started raining, so I called in Hannah and high tailed it back to the car. We didn't have an exceptionally long run, but it was a good one. Now that Bailey has been out on her first hunt, I will be sure to take her along on others when the temp is mild enough. She doesn't know it yet, but she will be at least a rabbit chaser if not a rabbit hunter like her dad. Besides, as long as she is young, the rabbits will be safe when she is along.

Remember to take a kid hunting with you the next time you go, even if it is your own. The smiles and expressions are priceless. However, I don't think you will get to make any MasterCard commercials.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).