« PreviousContinue »
DISEASES OF FERRETS.
These little animals are subject to a kind of distemper generally when they are just weaned, which is called "sweating,” and which is better let alone. Foot rot is also common, caused by a want of proper cleanliness and ventilation, and here prevention is much more easy than cure. When it appears, the claws grow long and ragged, from the animal not wearing them away by friction; the toes are red and raw, and the poor creature is terribly lame. Several remedies are adopted, but the first thing to be done is to cut the claws as close as they can be shortened without reaching the quick, then touch the raw parts with bluestone, and keep them dressed with an ointment composed of equal parts of mild mercurial ointment, simple sulphur ointment, and tar ointment. By repeatedly applying these remedies, and the use of great cleanliness, the foot rot may generally be got rid of.
MANAGEMENT IN FERRETING. After hunting the young ferret two or three times with the old bitch, she generally takes to the work, and will readily enter the rabbits' holes and drive them without further trouble. The ferret should have been fed with only half the usual allowance on the day previously, and this will make it the more eager. Sometimes ferrets are allowed to enter rabbit holes without being muzzled, but the usual plan is to muzzle them in some way. Of the various modes adopted, the most efficient is that by means of a fine cord, which is tied over the nose and neck in the following manner :-Get some fine whipcord or strong twine, cut off a piece long enough to go round the neck, and about four inches over. In the middle of this tie a small loop, as at Fig. 4; then take another piece about eight inches long, and double it, tying two knots (Fig. 5, 6 c) at such a distance as to allow the nose to be admitted between them. To put these on, first tie the string (Fig. 4) round the neck so that
the loop (a) is underneath ; next place the nose in the loop (6 c, Fig. 5), and slipping one of the ends of the first string
(Fig. 4) through the noose (d, Fig. 5), tie the two tightly together ; next pass one of the ends at e (Fig. 5) through the small loop (a, Fig. 4), and tie them also tightly, when the ferret is muzzled. Any person may put this on with a little practice, but it requires rather more to use a single piece of whipcord, as the struggles of the ferret have to be overcome. The plan is to slip first a noose over the jaws, then bringing the ends round the neck, they are tied above, and one of the ends being slipped through the string as it lies over the nose, it is tied to the other on the forehead. Net bags are made to take in the whole head, but they hold the claws of the ferret when it attempts to scratch them off, and are not at all useful. Leather muzzles are also sometimes employed, but they do not answer so well as the cord. When the ferrets are thus guarded they are put into the earths, in such a position that the rabbits will be bolted on the other side of a hedge or bank, which must be silently watched by the sportsman, who shoots them as they bolt. But the worst of the plau is, that after the first discharge of the gun the rabbits do not bolt freely, and they are very apt to cause the ferrets to “ lie up,” even though they are securely muzzled. When this is the case, all that can be done is either to watch patiently till they come out, or to dig them out, which latter plan cannot always be carried out in strong or rocky ground.
THE SHOOTING PONY. On the moors especially, but sometimes also in partridge shooting, and even in the battue, the shooter prefers four legs to two. This may arise either from inability to walk, or from disinclination, or perhaps from both combined in many instances. Colonel Hawker advised that the sportsman should have a pony calculated to carry double, and that in
this way not only he, but his marker, would be able to get over the ground better than on foot. On the moors, no doubt a bad walker has a poor chance, and as the distance to be got over is very considerable, we can hardly wonder that those gentlemen who only walk should require assistance.
When a pony is used for this purpose, the shot is sometimes taken from his back, but generally speaking, the rider dismounts when his dogs find, and leaves his quadruped to take care of himself while he re-loads. In either case the pony must be carefully broken to stand fire, and he should be also made extremely clever in leaping “in hand," and also in standing without being held wherever he is left. A high-couraged horse will seldom serve the purpose, as he will demand a very long-continued education; nor will the stubborn temper so often displayed among the Welsh galloways be likely to submit to the discipline of the breakers in the implicit manner which is essential to success. But the Highland pony will generally be found to combine the various requisites, and is also instructed by practice in his early life in the treacherous nature of bogs. Nothing is more common on the moors than for a mounted sportsman to get stuck in one of these traps, and if he then is on an animal which is not “up to trap,” he will flounder deeper and deeper, and at last perhaps be obliged to call assistance to get himself and his stupid brute out. On the other hand, the Scotch pony may get him into a bog, but then he will stand till his master quietly gets off upon the surface, which will bear the weight of the latter, with the aid of his broader feet, but will allow the more bulky proportions supported upon the smaller pedestals of the pony, to sink through. In selecting ponies for making into shooting cobs, this quality should be taken into consideration, if they are wanted for the moors, but very many are required by the less ambitious partridge shot, who is too unwieldy for the active exercise in any case required in grouse shooting. Generally in the north the pony is only required (except for the lazy and infirm) to take the shooter to the moor; once there, he can scarcely avail himself of his pony's assistance without sacrificing his sport. During the time in which a man is dismounting, the grouse are getting on the run, and the interval, short as it is, will very often enable them to rise out of shot. Few active men try the experiment, but I fancy if they did, they would find that they could kill more birds with than without a pony. With his aid, you may get up to the birds much more quickly; and I do not think that the noise made by the canter of the pony occasions any disturbance to them. No doubt the increased height is a disadvantage, but to balance this is the increased speed in getting to your dog's point. How often do we see the pointer stand at 150 or 200 yards off, and what a time it takes to get up to him, especially if against the steep side of a hill; on the other hand, many parts of the moors are not rideable. In making the comparison, it is generally the case that the shooter on foot is an active young man, and the pony-man an old and infirm one, who takes five minutes to get off
, and perhaps rides up as slowly as the other walks. Still, I should never advise any good walker to adopt the use of the pony, but at the same time, on most moors, I fully believe an active, wary man may, if he likes, use one with advantage, and especially when birds are running much. The pony only requires to be broken to stand the gun, to leap in hand, or follow over a fence, and to be handy, and used to stand without holding. All this is so easily taught, that it is unnecessary to allude to it here.
GENERAL MANAGEMENT OF SHOOTING DOGS.
KENNELS AND KENNEL MANAGEMENT--FEEDING-DRESSINGS AND PHYSIC
-PREPARATION FOR WORKMANAGEMENT AFTER WORK.
KENNELS AND KENNEL MANAGEMENT.
THE KENNELS intended for pointers and setters should be dry and well protected from the weather, but they should be kept cool, on account of the exposure to wet and cold which shooting dogs must incur. This is especially needful with spaniels, who are often wet for hours together in the coldest
days of winter. Some people keep them chained up to a small yard-kennel, similar to that of a watch-dog, but the plan is not a good one, as there is not sufficient exercise taken. In a pointer-kennel there should always be a yard twelve or fourteen feet long, and paved with hard bricks, the less porous the better. If, however, it is washed down two or three times a week, there is no necessity for their being glazed. The yard should not be roofed in, as the rain serves to keep the floor sweet, and a little wet only serves to harden these dogs, who will not suffer from it if their beds are dry. An inner or lodging-room must also be provided, and this is better if floored with cemented bricks or asphalte. Nothing is so injurious to the health of dogs as a damp floor, except, perhaps, a dirty one; and as in the case of porous bricks, it must be either one or the other, they should be rejected, or if used, they must be covered with cement. The additional cost of a layer of this material is not great, and for the ordinary size of floor required, it will not exceed ten or twelve shillings. If the cement is carried a foot up the walls, an additional guarantee is afforded against the absorption of urine, and the dogs are rendered all the more healthy at a very slight extra outlay. For the benches, deal laths set pretty close together, answer every purpose, but they should be lined towards the walls, so as to prevent the cold striking into the backs of the dogs. These benches are better not more than a foot from the floor; as if they are higher, some of the dogs are very apt to get under them and become covered with the dirt falling through the interstices of the laths. Ventilation is provided for by having the door always open, but it is as well to have a provision for it in the upper part of the lodging-house. A light should also be provided, though for the same reason it is seldom wanted. In order to keep the yard as sweet as possible, it should have a fall towards the centre, where there should be the trapped grating of a drain to carry off the washings of the yard. Close to this it is a good plan to put up a low post, which will be used by the dogs to lift their legs against, and will thereby save the door-post from constant pollution. Tiles form the best covering for the lodging-room, being warmer in winter and cooler in summer than slate. Thatch is still less influ.