The dog has clearly given up on pheasants. After all - pheasants don't play fair do they? Sitting there in the fields teasing a poor simple dog, only to leap into the air like some kind of feathered and ungainly jump jet, just out of reach. What's a dog to do? I knew we had reached some kind of turning point when I managed to get him back during our walk this morning with just 2 short blasts of the whistle and one "Fred!" (rather than frantic whistle blasting and many "FRED"s in my most fierce 'bad dogs and childen' voice). And this after I had already heard the whirr of wings as the birds rose from the fields, and the dog's mad "I'm chasing birds" bark (it's more like a 'yip' than a bark actually) - which has previously been the point just after the point of no return as far as Fred's concerned. But today, he came racing back on my first attempt. I started to feel slightly suspicious.
We continued on our wet and windy walk in the kind of 'blow the leaves off the trees' weather I associate more with October, especially as the leaves haven't really started to turn yet here. All was fine until we reached Bunny Alley, at which point, he raced off up the track and refused to even acknowledge me or the whistle. The next time I saw him, my heart sank. Trotting down the hill, bunny in mouth, he was the picture of proud dog bearing presents. He arrived and sat, blinking regally, proudly displaying his prize. "Fred, good boy" I said "now drop the rabbit". No response. "Drop the Rabbit. Please". Fred carried on blinking at me. The rabbit twitched. "Drop. The. Rabbit. NOW". Nothing. The rabbit was clearly getting a bit fed up and had started to show that it was very much still alive. It raised its little bunny head and the pink rimmed eyes looked at me. "Not today" those eyes said "Not now. And not like this - it is not my time".
After a few more seconds of my pleading with the dog, the rabbit took matters into its own hands (or rather paws) summoned up some energy, gave a big twist and managed to free itself. Fred looked very surprised , but just as he was recovering himself the rabbit made for the hedgerow and disappeared, hopefully to live to meet a horrible death another day, and the husband will once again be deprived of rabbit pie.