Chantal's story is from many years ago, in the days when only a handful of people cared for wildlife. Back then the untrained were ignorant of the negative impact close association with a dog would have on a young animal destined for the wild. What touched me about this story is that the ‘hunter’ became protector and friend. Something I see occasionally with ex-kangaroo hunters who become extremely dedicated macropod carers or supporters later on in life. This particular aspect spoke to me in the story.
My aunt sent me this photo (it’s a very old one that’s been scanned, hence the poor quality) of my lovely Golden Retriever. We lived at Draycote Water Sailing Club at the time, out in the middle of nowhere.
This was taken when Ross was a young dog and had been out walking with my dad. He came home with a baby hare in his mouth. We had to bring up the hare (Douglas) who adored Ross as much as Ross adored Douglas. They were inseparable for over six months before we released Douglas back into the wild. We didn’t try to tame him, but he lived in the flat with us, used a litter tray and had us wrapped around one paw. We bottle fed him on warm milk with glucose and liquidised dandelion leaves. No idea where the recipe came from, no internet in those days. We took it in turns on 4 hour feeding until we had him on solids. Not so easy I can tell you, but it was summer holidays so no school. Shirley and I worked in our family’s newsagent shop in Coventry on a Saturday and Douglas had to come with us. We tucked him into a sheepskin mitt and he sat on the shelf between the cigarettes. He just snoozed between feeds, he was so good.
We’d done everything we could to make him self-sufficient, ready for his release and hoped he would survive in the wild. My dad used to swear that on a dog walk, a few weeks after Douglas was released, a hare was sitting on the bridle path. Ross went up to the hare, they nudged each other and then Douglas hopped off. I’d like to think it was true, but who knows?
Do you love wildlife and critters like I do?
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