Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Wilfs old fears return.

It's the start of the hunting season today and the hills and fields around the house are echoing with the sound of gunfire. Wilf who was always such a happy carefree spirit has been hiding under the kitchen table all morning refusing to come outside to join us for breakfast. Clearly the memories of Aprils robbery and the gunfire in the house have taken more of a psychological toll on him than we'd anticipated. Any thoughts on what to do? If we pay him more attention it reinforces the fear, if we ignore him we feel horrible! I hate to see the boy so upset. Surprisingly Digby seems less frightened than his big brother although that said he is lying at my feet (or should I say joined to my feet) under the desk as I type this.
The hunters claim that they don't kill for pleasure but provide a useful and necessary service by keeping the population of wild boar under control. If left unchecked the cinghiali would charge through the vineyards munching on the young grapes and pulling down the highly valuable vines. I'd believe this story if it wasn't for the fact that the hunters feed the pregnant females with maize in the mating season,effectively taming them as easy targets. It isn't the first time, nor the last, that the basest of motives will be dressed up in the mantle of good citizenship. A bit like slaughter posing as Martha Stewart.
Criticism is impossible as a powerful pro-hunting lobby in Umbria is generously sponsored by the large local gun manufacturers in the Terni valley just to the south of here. Needless to say this makes them a very powerful voice in the land.
There are an alarming number of accidents each year as safety is unheard of and what laws there are are ignored or unenforced. Hunters are supposed to shoot away from,rather than towards,houses and be at least 100 metres away when they fire.As we looked out from the breakfast terrace across the fields this morning it was clear that neither of these rules was being obeyed.
Two years ago we nearly lost Wilf - he had eaten some poisoned meatballs put down by the hunters under the olive trees outside the house to kill foxes. We got him to the vet just in time. It makes me really angry and frustrated that they feel they can use our land in such a dangerous, cavalier fashion.


kks said...

wow! can't believe they can hunt so close to homes....there are very strict laws here in the sad about the robbery and the lasting're doing the right thing by not reinforcing the behavior, but outside of that i have no info...i would consult a behaviorist.....
such cute pics of the boys!!

KB said...

Here, the officials take hunting violations like hunting on private property or too close to houses extremely seriously. When I moved into my home years and years ago, the hunters had made a habit over decades previously of trespassing and hunting. A series of signs, confrontations, and calls to wildlife officials finally put an end to it but it took a couple of years of diligence.

For Wilf's fears, they sound a bit like a fear of thunder. For thunder, the prevailing wisdom is that you carry treats with you in the house, and every time it rumbles you act like it's party time - giving each dog a handful of treats. You're goal is that your dog sees the loud noise as a sign that something good is about to happen. Over time, the treats can diminish and eventually go away, I'm told. I think that the same process might work for gunfire.

I'm so sorry that all of you are still trying to recover from that horrible event in april.

Rocky Creek Scotties and Java said...

Being a landowner in the country, I know a bit about what you are going through. During hunting season, we don't let Java out alone. Some silly hunter might mistake him for a deer since he weighs in excess of 100 pounds.

I hate that Wilf is having such a time with the gunshots. And it makes me mad every time I think about your robbery. Why can't everyone just get along? And live with what they have without taking other people's belongings at gunpoint.

I don't know which is best - to ignore him or baby him. I'd probably be trying to hold him on my lap to console him.

Hope hunting season is over soon. As usual, I love the pics of the boys.


MAX said...

That really doesn't sound very pleasant at all!! We are sorry for you (and the boar!)Here in South Africa, the gunfire is also often on our doorsteps - from household robberies, police action, school sports days etc. This is topped with a cultural passion for fireworks...which I think you know our feelings about.
Anyway, we also have one terrified animal in our midst (Tammy). Our only treatment for her - besides unsuccessful medication- is to shut all the dogs in a room, windows and curtains closed with blaring music. Although it sounds ridiculous, we have found it to work. They are now quite selective as to which radio stations they listen too :)

Winchester whisperer said...

Poor Wilfy

shane rocket said...

POOR wilf and digby. i seriously hope this isn't a long season!!!

with my two strapping male Wiemaraners (snickers) storms turn them into jello. This is not good for "bird dogs" since gunfire does the same to them. They are such failures in the hunting world, but this makes them more loveable to us. Valium does WONDERS for them. and we benefit since they calm down. BUT in your case you can not "gork" them out for days or weeks. KB has a good suggestion.I would try that... What the boys (& you two) have been through.!.!.!.!. i just want to snuggle them.

i will send calming positive karma to the boys...

Angus said...

Thank you all for your sweet comments. Wilfy (as he's called at monets of stress) was finally enticed out into the courtyard for an hours worth of ball throwing when the shooting died down a bit. It's amazing what lure a digestive biscuit has. After the better part of a year without manic ear scratching he started again today -stress. Thank heavens for Zymox.

Mack and Sally Ann said...

Maybe a thunder jacket would help.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

My heart beat faster with frustration whilst reading this. I truly do not understand the mindset. The claim that they are hunting simply for good would be easier to believe were they all not so gleeful at the prospect of gunning creatures down. Poor Wilf. It does take time to get past trama.