Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Castle Ratter
Papillons are one of the oldest breed of dog. Their history can be traced back 700 years when they were known as toy spaniels.

Marie Antoinette owned Papillons and, according to legend, she took one of the little dogs to the guillotine with her for company and comfort. (The dog was not beheaded.)

In those times, few people could afford to keep a dog that didn't earn its keep. The Papillons worked as the castle ratters.

It's important to know the history of a dog breed you are thinking of adopting, because dogs retain their breed characteristics whether their owner wants them to or not.

Sunny, our little mixed breed, has a herding instinct. Herding dogs need to have a job to be happy. If a job is not provided, they will make up their own job description and their owners may not be pleased with the duties their dog has chosen.

But I've digressed. Papillons are not herding dogs.

Pappy the Papillon out in the field hunting for rodents in the grassPapillons are hunting dogs. Our little fourteen pound Papillon Pappy is obsessed with rodents. Since we live in the country, he is never bored.

He can sense small rodents under the snow and will dive into snow banks after them. During the other seasons of the year, he is forever diving into grass clumps. Sometimes he comes out with a screaming rodent in his mouth.

I hate it when he catches something. If he's on the leash, I give the leash a hardy tug and tell him "drop it". He does. Reluctantly. Only because he has no choice.

A few weeks ago he was off leash when I saw him catch a mouse. "Drop it!" didn't work. He swallowed it whole so I wouldn't take it away from him. I had no idea that was physically possible. Even more amazing he didn't get sick, although he was a bit sluggish at his agility class that evening.

I can only conclude that as well as inheriting his breed's ability to catch rodents, he also inherited the ability to digest them.