OUCH! A STING IN THE TALE
Nettles are a menace, so keep your dogs clear
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