Retrievers of live Game
Ibizan hounds in their native lands of Spain and the Balearic Islands are used to hunt in packs, capture and retrieve to hand live rabbits. Live retrieval allows the human himself to dispatch an unspoiled meal. Life with these amazing creatures leads to many curious events of various wildlife being brought into the house. We keep a few free-ranging ornamental chickens for bug control in our yard. Occasionally one of these foolish fowl will fly in among the dogs. It is riotously pursued, captured and brought through the dog door in the basement up the stairs to the living room to be proudly handed to the first person available.
One day I found my little bitch, Zorina, tucking a live hen's head under the couch cushion so that it looked like the old cartoons of the proverbial ostrich with its head in the ground. The hen, now in the dark, stood trance-like. Zorina stepped back to examine the effect, satisfied, ran back down to look for another.
One summer her bother, Anansi, came in the house with bulging cheeks. A peculiar muffled cheeping emitted from his muzzle. He lay down on the dog bed and opened his jaws like a Nile crocodile. Out marched six fluffy white Guinea chicks! I scooped them up and returned them to their hysterical mother, who attacked me for having stolen her children.
Kit who recently passed away at 15, in his youth came in through the dog yard with a box turtle in his mouth. He looked like a receiver running with the ball for a touchdown with all the other dogs trying to get his prize. When he came in and I saw that he was preparing to chew on the poor box turtle, I took it from him, with much praise for his unplanned generosity. He was so thrilled with the approval that ever after he brought me turtles, many times the very same one.
While painting in my kitchen studio I kept hearing a scratching at the back door. It would scratch for a minute then stop, only to start up again in a few minutes. Cleaning my brush I went to the door to see young Alphonso putting down a rabbit. Of course it took off down the stairs. Every time he had scratched at the door he had put down the rabbit. It would run down stairs and do laps around the walls of the dog room. The poor rabbit was finally corned by all five Ibizans. Amazingly they obeyed the command to "leave it", and let me pick up the rabbit. I took poor old Bunny up stairs and set him in the sink, dressed a minor flesh wound and released the hopefully wiser rabbit out the front door.
Ibizans love to be the presenter of the prize. It is a inbred talent. That does not mean that young dogs won't accidentally kill small wild animals. They must be guided to proper behavior. Mice are considered hors d'oeuvre and generally eaten on squished. So don't chastise your Ibizan for bringing you gifts. Just try to be there to release them to freedom.