Erin's heaven on earth
A thicket is where Erin found true happiness! On the outskirts of a Mannheim German subdivision where Erin and myself lived was a tract of land littered with a few rusted abandoned vehicles and sections engulfed by a waist high briar patch. While these skin piercing thorns were a deterrent to humans, the vast field provided a perfect habitat for rabbits and other four-legged creatures who found pleasure in pursuing them. Erin spent countless hours in chase mode or trying to detect the elusive prey, who knew a worthy adversary when they saw one.
Upon my return from work, Erin would greet me at the door with her tail wagging and face beaming with eagerness. Within minutes,we would be headed out for a stroll around the neighborhood where there was always something new to explore but the thicket was the ultimate exploration destination. As we neared the field, the tugging on the leash increased to the point where I often swore she was going to choke herself. Her intense panting and my arm fatigue determined when she was released and once free, she sprinted into the undergrowth. It was of little concern that a rabbit hadn't been spotted as Erin knew where they lived and she would remain on their trail until one was flushed out.
Visual contact with Erin was lost as she disappeared into the thicket but her location was revealed by the movement of the foliage and the clanging of her metallic dog tags. Often a rabbit would scamper out into the open where I was located and I'd holler for her to come get it. As she darted out, the varmint raced back into the thickness, this game of zig and zag was part of the routine in which neither side gained an advantage. The duration of the chase generally depended upon the weather conditions and my boredom level but it was not unusual for her to spend a few hours scurrying about while I chatted with the English speaking locals or plopped down to read the paper.
During the heart of the German winter and heavy snowfall, a few minutes was often all I could endure outdoors so Erin's fun was short lived much to her chagrin. After these snowfalls, the density of the brush thinned out considerably and all participating parties could be spotted from my elevated point. The coloring of the hares and the dark patches on my girl made them visible in contrast to the layer of snow covering everything in sight.The rabbits played hide and seek while Erin used her powerful nose to locate her target and when possible, I would try to direct Erin to a motionless fur ball but she usually followed her sniffer in another direction. Regardless of the weather conditions or anything else for that matter, she continued her pursuit until I called her name and sometimes that wasn't enough to persuade her to emerge. She would test my patience as she knew the thicket was not hospitable to humans and I wouldn't be dragging her out by the collar so she continued to meander without a care.
Eventually, my liver and white colored friend would reappear from the undergrowth where a huge grin would be plastered across her content face. She was one happy girl as we strolled back to the apartment where she laid upon on my lap for a necessary brushing to remove the numerous thorns embedding the skin and matting the coat. Erin never caught a rabbit but that didn't dampen her enthusiasm for the chase and she approached every pursuit as if it were her first time following those forged trails. Bliss and elation were discovered in that German thicket and it was a place where Erin found a slice of heaven and I sincerely hope that Doggie Heaven has a few hares for Erin to pursue!!