Net­tles are a men­ace, so keep your dogs clear

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - GUNDOGS -

The un­for­tu­nate Labrador in my pho­to­graph hadn’t been shot, as the pic­ture sug­gests, but had been badly stung by net­tles. I took the pic­ture dur­ing a day’s shoot­ing al­most ex­actly a year ago.

Most of the beat­ing was in fields of su­gar beet, which is hard work for both dogs and man, but there were also sev­eral small de­cid­u­ous woods or coverts car­peted with a lux­u­ri­ant growth of sting­ing net­tles. By this stage of the sea­son you might ex­pect the net­tles to have lost their venom but not a bit of it. They might not have been as po­tent as they would have been in Au­gust, but they still packed a note­wor­thy punch.

Sting­ing net­tles are a men­ace and most thin-skinned dogs, such as spaniels and Labradors, suf­fer badly from stings. around you, with the an­i­mals at the back push­ing those at the front. I’ve only ex­pe­ri­enced this a few times and I’ve stood my ground and waved my arms with great ef­fect, but al­ways be pre­pared to let go of your dog to make its own es­cape.

When work­ing your dog around cat­tle, a lit­tle bovine knowl­edge can be in­valu­able. Ma­ture dairy cat­tle are sel­dom a prob­lem be­cause, though they may be cu­ri­ous, they are usu­ally suf­fi­ciently fa­mil­iar with peo­ple not to be a threat to ei­ther you or your dog. The chances are that the farmer has a dog or two, so the cat­tle are prob­a­bly used to dogs and aren’t too both­ered by them.

Beef cows are gen­er­ally docile, and ma­ture cows are sel­dom a worry un­less they have calves, when they can be dan­ger­ous. Beef bulls are gen­er­ally ami­able an­i­mals, es­pe­cially if cows ac­com­pany them, but there is al­ways the ex­cep­tion to the gen­eral rule, so be sen­si­ble. It is herds of young heifers or bul­locks that are to be avoided, as they are the most ex­citable and the most in­quis­i­tive, and thus the most dan­ger­ous.

Free-range pigs are an­other mat­ter al­to­gether. I have picked-up among

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