At our old house, we had a fenced yard with a big garden. We put up wire fencing to protect our plants, but the rabbits still found ways in. My husband used to joke we needed hunting dogs to keep the bunnies out, but he was wrong. Our miniature poodle turned out to be a wolf in disguise.

Dory loves chasing rabbits and we encouraged her in this, hoping that the bunnies would decide it wasn’t worth it to come into our yard. At times, Dory seems completely clueless. We point towards the rabbit and she runs the other way. To be fair, it’s amazing she can find rabbits in the yard at all. It’s full of bushes that tower over her and block her view. A smart bunny can dodge and weave its way through the plantings and lose Dory with ease.

Dory: Tiny Queen of All She Surveys

She once stopped dead in her tracks when the cat she was trying to chase didn’t budge, so we were astonished the first time Dory caught a rabbit. The rabbit kept racing across the yard with Dory running hard behind her. Then the rabbit hit a deadend and I could see a collision coming. He had to turn around and in the excitement, he ran straight towards the dog. I expected Dory to slow down or at least pause. Instead, she barreled into him and they both rolled over until they came to a stop. Dory wound up on top.

Desert cottontail rabbit (Photo by Kurt Fristrup)

While desert cottontail rabbits aren’t very big, neither is Dory. She straddled the bunny but her mouth was too small for her to pick it up and shake it the way a terrier would, so she just mouthed at its neck instead. Kurt pulled her off the rabbit, who was lying frozen on the ground, eyes wide, its fur sopping wet. The poor little guy was dazed but unhurt. We picked him up carefully and set him outside the fence. He sat panting for a bit, then shook himself and hopped away. Even though the rabbit lived through its ordeal, from that moment on, we called Dory Rabbitsbane.

Over the years Dory has caught several rabbits and even killed a few. I am not proud of this, but I continue to be astonished. I know that she is descended from wolves, but she only weighs thirteen pounds. Her favorite activity is snuggling. It’s easy to forget that killing is part of her DNA.

Can you see the wolf in your dog? How?

2 thoughts on “A Wolf in Poodle’s Clothing”

  1. Purdy is usually a laid back snuggle. However, the last several nights, ‘something’ has been prowling outside, just as we go to bed. The full throat roar, the bristling fur, says it’s not small. Friends down the hill commented yesterday that we should change her name to Baskerville

    1. Purdy is not a little dog, so I can guess why they think Baskerville is a more accurate name. But size doesn’t seem to matter. Concerns about territory and protecting people seems to bring out the wolf in every dog I’ve ever known, no matter how laid back!

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