According to Wikipedia, prey drive is “the instinctive inclination of a carnivore to find, pursue, and capture prey”. And, according to the Teresipedia, I have a strong prey drive. It’s why she keeps me on a leash along the canal and sometimes reels me in quickly when I find something interesting, like a duck or a muskrat. It’s why I didn’t get to meet Hank the barn cat until he was well-socialized to people and could be introduced as a member of the family. I’m embarrassed to say I put some holes in Tomas, Hank’s predecessor, when we caught him out in the field one day. I felt bad afterward, but he ran so I chased and when he stopped I went in for the kill.
I’m well-fed, so it’s not like I need to kill things to eat. Logan doesn’t have the same drive. He loves chasing pigeons out of the buildings and going after gophers but it’s more herder than killer instinct. I wish I had that. It’s so much more civilized in the eyes of the humans and I do want to fit in. If you read my blog posts from our last trip to the desert, I shared my desire to become human, and this prey drive thing is just not helping.
Last week I came across a partridge in the grass along the canal. Normally, they fly up with a great amount of noise and I love flushing them out, but this one just waited, hiding in the grass until I was right on top of him. I could have let him fly away, Logan would have, but I grabbed and shook without even thinking about it. T was angry with me and she knelt down and stroked the bird which was now too frightened to move and possibly injured. We don’t know if it survived or not. I hope it did.
T’s been trying to teach me the difference between hunting birds and hunting gophers (which I’m allowed to do) but, the problem is, they’re all the same to me … small and moving. She’s saved quite a few over the years with a quick action on the leash or shouting at me at just the right moment, sometimes snapping me out of kill mode, but still I have the blood of a few ducks, some baby shore birds, and a couple of partridges on my paws.
People often ask what breed I am and there are lots of guesses but nobody knows for sure, except maybe my parents. They say I look a lot like a Heeler or Australian Cattle Dog, but I sure don’t have the herding instinct that should come with that breed. I love the water and have lab-type ears so there may be some of that in me. And some have said I have a beagle’s face, which would explain the chase and kill instinct. In the end, I’m a dog, 100%, and a dog that likes to chase to kill versus chase to move. Such is my cross to bear.
So to all the little birds and animals out there, run fast or hide well, because I don’t think there’s a lot I can do about natural instinct, hard as I try.