I fancy myself something of an informed amateur when it comes to training dogs. I took Casey from a stray with very low self-esteem and major separation anxiety issues to a (mostly) confident, obedient, happy, and loving dog in a little less than a year. She's the guardian of my daughters when I'm not around, and tolerates the mistakes that I make in training her.
Jake, my other dog, is one that I've had for just over a year. He was a Hurricane Katrina rescue that made it to Denver as part of the massive animal rescue operations that took place, and he found his way into my pack when friend of a friend had to give him up as part of their move out of the country. He and Casey get along well, and while he certainly has different motivations than Casey, he minds me pretty well.
But he's got one hell of a high prey-drive. Really high. He sees something small and fast moving, and he wants it.
Couple, four or five months ago, I let them out into the yard in the morning to do their business and check their p-mail, and Jake took off toward the back fence like a bullet from a gun. In a few short moments, he had his head low to the ground, shaking back and forth, a rabbit in his jaws.
Anyhoo, yesterday, we had another example of that prey drive.
Elder Spawn's science class last year had two rats they raised, one was fed sugar and water, the other was fed milk, and you'd see which rat grew faster. Basic science 101, that sort of thing. When it was all said and done, the teacher asked the kids if anyone wanted a rat as a pet. Naturally, Elder Spawn did, and after a brief essay contest, she won second place and thus Nikki (feminine for Nicodemus) was brought into the fold at the Stately JB Bed and Breakfast and Petting Zoo.
Cute little bugger, that one. Very social, very affectionate (she'd sit on my shoulder and sleep), and not at all what you envision when I say "rat".
Yesterday, somehow, she got out of her cage. The wire part was slightly off-set from the plastic bottom, and she managed to sneak out the gap. Free at last! A whole living room to explore!
She took to scampering around, as rats are prone to do, and before I could get out of my chair to gather her up, Jake had her in his jaws.
He didn't *quite* kill her, but she was mortally wounded with a puncture to her abdomen and some broken bones, so I took her to the back yard behind the shed and ended her suffering with a quick .22LR to the head, then buried her before Elder Spawn and Spawn the Younger got home from school.
How do you explain THAT to a 10 year old and 12 year old girl?
I felt like a bag of warmed over mule dung.
Domestic, trained, whatever... a dog is still a dog, and the animal inside will come out under the right (wrong) circumstances. I guess I got a little complacent and forgot that.