Dear AKC: I have a pet rabbit in my house and I'm thinking of getting a Beagle puppy. Is there a problem keeping them both in the same house? The puppy would only be loose when someone is home. -- Hound & Hare
Dear Hound: Before considering adding a dog to your household you should research the breed to fit your lifestyle. And research the lifestyle of any existing pets in the house. If you were to look up the Beagle description on our web site you would find that "Beagles are scent hounds used primarily for hunting rabbits to larger hares."
Hmmm. Let's consider this for a moment. You have a rabbit and you want to add a breed that hunts them. A scent hound no less. If you read further into the tenacity of these small dogs you learn, "These dogs are snappy, tireless hunters full of energy and quickness." My guess is that your new Beagle will be looking for that rabbit all the time. It's his genetic make-up to find them.
Now this is not to say you can't safely keep both animals. For example, people keep small rodents, like Gerbils for example, in their homes while owning cats. However, the owners must always be on guard to ensure that no harm comes to their smaller pets. So they keep them in cages, out of the way, or behind closed doors. But your Beagle will always be sniffing around ever vigilant to find his prey and that will always put you on alert to keep the two pets apart. You can make sure the rabbit is in his hutch or the Beagle in his crate when you let the other loose for a romp.
More for your quality of life, I would consider getting a non-rabbit hunting dog. While all dogs will be interested in your small rabbit and he should be kept in a cage away from the dog when you are not home, at least some other breed won't be constantly driven to find what he was bred to hunt.
Last month I wrote about the dangers of dogs and hawks. I felt it was important to share the following stories and insights I received from readers since I'd not personally heard of any incidents where a hawk carried off a dog. However, many readers have had their share of heartbreak and close calls regarding large birds of prey and their small dogs and puppies. Their response prompted me to create a new section in this column called Bark Back where I will share comments and advice from readers.
~ Bark Back ~
Dear AKC: Believe it - hawks DO attempt to hunt small dogs! Just this week I lost my 8 year old "Min Pin" after a large hawk attempted to fly off with him. My poor dog managed to break free from the talons but the hawk was high enough in the air to cause him a severe head injury when he fell to the ground, as well as suffering a punctured lung from a talon piercing his chest. He did not survive long enough to get him to our vet for a merciful passing. You are right to advise leashes or other restraints.Please pass on this warning and re-emphasize the dangers. -- T.D.
Dear AKC: Large hawks will most certainly capture small dogs and fly off with them for a tasty meal. We lost a 15 yr. old Minpin/Chihauhau mix to a Red-tailed hawk last spring. Our dog weighed about 10 lbs. She evidently managed to struggle free while in the air but the fall killed her. We had seen a pair of hawks hanging around our yard and the physical evidence was positive proof. -- R.B.
Dear AKC: I am an attorney in Macon, Ga. and have a client that lost a Chihuahua to a hawk on Thanksgiving Day 1999. Many family members observed this tragedy and it was reported in our local newspaper. The family was outside enjoying a warm fall day after the holiday meal when the hawk swooped down only a few feet from them and carried off the dog. -- G.L.
Dear AKC: I just read your newsletter responding to the inquiry about the danger of hawks to dogs. We live in Southern California, and I have a co-worker whose friend's Yorkie was snatched up by a hawk while in the back yard. This woman only looked away for a minute, but it was too late and you can imagine the heartbreak!! Please inform your readers so they can keep their dogs close at all times, preferably on a leash! -- V.G.
Dear AKC: I read your column, and would ask that you consider elaborating on your response regarding keeping hawks away from dogs. It's something I've also been wondering about for some time. I recently moved to a rural area and have seen hawks. Althoughyour response wasexcellentfor someone who has onedog (or a small number of dogs) and/or lives in an area without a fenced in yard, it's not very practical for a breeder who has a number of adults as well as a number of puppies. I never took the step of contacting an organization associatedwith raptors (hawks, etc.) They may have some practicalinformation about how to discourage hawks from hanging around the property. -- M.G.
There really isn't a good way to rid your property of birds of prey since nearly 800 species of native and migratory birds are protected by federal law. The statute makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell live or dead birds or any of their parts. These birds are very territorial to boot, so it's best to put your energies into protecting your pets. Here are some reader recommendations based on their personal experiences to answer your question:
Dear AKC: I live in a rural area where hawks and owls are common. I don't worry about my adult Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, but am very cautious with puppies. When the weather allows the pups to play outside, I keep them in a covered and enclosed pen. The cover prevents the pups from being seen from the air, but I can watch them through the wire sides. I actually had a large owl land in the yard and attempt to get into the pen from the side. Until the pups are at least 15-20 lbs I don't let them into the main (fully fenced) yard unless a responsible person is watching carefully for predators. Until my dogs are close to full grown they are only allowed out of the covered pen in the presence of a person and/or adult dogs. -- A.R.
Dear AKC: I manage a Min Pin Show Kennel and tragically lost 1 puppy in an ex-pen on a beautiful spring day! These were out on the deck and before we could do anything we witnessed the large hawk fly down and grab the puppy. This was in Connecticut. All ex-pens are covered now but when the pups are out you can hear the birds screeching to each other letting them know "food" is around. -- S.M.
Thanks to the many comments and I look forward to hearing from you!