Wild cottontail rabbits thrive in the hedgerows and blackberry brambles of open fields surrounding our neighborhood. In late winter to early spring they graze my front yard, and twice I have discovered nests in dry, secluded corners of winter gardens. Late spring now, the air warms, light enters earlier and lingers longer into the evening, so critters and birds have moved to safer environs farther away from human contact. Our beagle, Jello, bred to sniff out, chase, and catch critters like squirrels and rabbits, is four. We have been together almost six months, walking daily and recently I have been experimenting with allowing her off-lead in safe places (other than the dog park) to see how she responds.
This is her third time off-lead in this mostly fenced and roughly mown, Bonneville Power Association right of way, which is just off the road from our usual walk. It is a superb habitat for rabbits and other creatures.
Without needing me to go to her, Jello came to my call across the field. While I have 5 million scent receptors in my nose, she has 225 million, so paying attention to my commands is difficult for her — that nose is always very busy!
On the edge of the brambles, Jello’s nose picks up a fresh scent, which throws her whole body into a mid-stride course correction!