The DNA of a Hunter

March 16, 2010

The bunnies are out and about, and I worry for them. The tiny balls of fluff have ventured from beneath the backyard plywood platform they’ve claimed as home, in search of grass and other edibles. And there, not far off, lies Sierra. The first time I glimpsed her from my window, lying there serenely watching bunnies who were no more than 25 feet away, I thought, Oh! I had it wrong. Her prey drive really isn’t what I thought. The next time I looked more carefully, and realized that her seemingly lackadaisical stare was anything but; she was conserving energy as she waited for those bunnies to venture far enough away from shelter to pounce on them. So far the bunnies are fine. But Sierra is patient, and I fear it’s only a matter of time.

My husband sees Sierra’s true hunter nature on their morning hikes in the mountains that surround our home. Nose to the ground, she intently follows scent trails, and attempts to stick her nose into holes that are surely sanctuaries for critters who don’t want to be bothered. I’ve asked my husband to please deter her, as sooner or later she will find something–and it’ll bite back!

Not everything that lives in these mountains is small, either. Coyotes are encountered fairly regularly. It’s a good thing Sierra is on a long line, because she tries desperately to go after them, even when there are two coyotes together. The girl’s got prey drive! This will all be a moot point come mid-April when the rattlesnakes start making their appearance; the mountains will be off-limits then, until the frost returns.

So where does that prey drive originate? I recently sent off a Wisdom Panel DNA sample. I couldn’t resist—I really want to know what Sierra’s made of. Of course, the testing process isn’t perfected yet, and the degree of certainty depends partly on the prevalence of one breed over another. Still, it will be interesting to learn the results. I’m guessing she’s partly sheltie or collie, and possibly husky and German Shepherd. Whatever she is, there’s a hunter in the mix for sure.

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