In a scrappy, streetwise cousin of mannerly countryside fox hunts, on terrain far from the European farms and fields where many of the dogs' ancestors were bred to scramble after vermin and foxes, their masters sport trash-poking sticks instead of riding crops and say it's just as viable an exercise for the animals' centuries-old skills.
‘It's about maintaining the breed type through actual work,’ says Richard Reynolds, a New Jersey-based business analyst and longtime dog breeder who might be considered the group's organizer -- if it would accept being called organized.
Known with a chuckle as the Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society -- parse the acronym -- the rodent-hunters have been scouring downtown byways for more than a decade, meeting weekly when weather allows.Of course, PETA--whose members think that animals are like they are portrayed in Disney cartoons--is horrified.
... The lineups included two border terriers; a wire-haired dachshund; a Jack Russell terrier/Australian cattle dog mix; a Patterdale terrier, an intense, no-nonsense breed that's uncommon in this country; and a feist, a type of dog developed in the American South to tree squirrels.
... Although the dogs have hunting instincts, it takes training to capitalize on them. Just because your pet runs after backyard squirrels doesn't mean it could ever catch one.
When at its best, the alley pack works together. One dog will sniff out a rat and signal its whereabouts, often by barking. Another leaps at the hideaway to rout the quarry, and then a third lurches to catch it as it flees.