The Papillon Gambit

Izzy and Minnie on the Hunt

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

I love my two Papillons, Minnie and Izzy. Minnie is coming up on five years old while Izzy is coming up on two. They are from different breeders and have completely different personalities but they are a perfect pair and a great team.

They both are sweet and incredibly intelligent; in fact they are scary smart and they continue to surprise us with their scheming and attitude.

I try to walk them around the lake near our home two to three times a day. There are a lot of ducks as well as geese, not to mention other birds, squirrels, and rabbits for them to track and chase. I know that is nothing unusual for anyone with a dog, most dogs love to chase and to hunt. However, lately these two have pulled something new that none of our other dogs have ever done and which we have not taught them to do, though I wish I had. I hate to admit it but I do encourage their bad habits.

Recent they have adopted a classic military strategy to outflank and surround the ducks and geese. One will go down the bank of the lake and chase them toward the other who goes higher and then comes down to cut off their retreat. It is amazing to watch. They both have different methods of the hunt. Most of the time Izzy plunges headlong to the attack, but Minnie, she quietly sneaks up, almost crouching and tiptoeing as she stalks her prey. 

When they perform what I now call the Papillon Gambit, it is Izzy who goes down the bank to flush out the prey, while Minnie sneaks around the flank, but last night they switched roles. It was amazing to watch. Yesterday, during their morning walk Izzy took the low road on some Muscovy ducks while Minnie went high and dove down. This time the ducks didn’t realize it until the last second and for the first time I actually saw them take to flight in order to avoid being trapped. But this time they barely escaped. In a near panic the ducks turned and flew away from Minnie and a large drake barely avoided being snatched out of the air by Izzy. Had she got him it would have been really interesting. 


Minnie and Izzy 

Now mind you, Minnie and Izzy are not very big, even though they are large for Papillons, Minnie is 12 pounds while Izzy weighs in at 13 pounds. Papillons do vary in size, some as small as 3 pounds and some up to twenty, but most fall into the 6 to 8 pound range. Minnie is actually a bit taller and longer than Izzy, but Izzy is built like a tank. She doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her, but as our vet said when he first saw her as a puppy, she is sturdy. The ducks in question are bigger than either of them, the males (drakes) average 10 to 18 pounds in weight while the females are a bit smaller. It is really funny to see such little dogs stalking such big prey. The one Izzy almost caught was large, probably in the 15-16 pound range. 

For those that don’t know much about the breed, they are Spaniels. Like other bigger breeds of Spaniels they are not afraid of water, or mud and occasionally will dive into the water to go after ducks or geese. They are also considered to be among the top dog breeds in terms of intelligence. They are incredibly sweet, loyal, and unfortunately sometimes they are a bit headstrong, with an attitude that you wouldn’t believe. That being said I have never seen two dogs work in tandem as these two girls do. They execute perfect flanking movements in order to trap their prey, you’d think that they were foxes or wolves, but they are Pappies.


Back in the 17th and 18th Centuries Papillons were a favorite among French royalty, in addition to being great lap dogs they doubled as great ratters, keeping the royal palaces free of vermin. It is written that Queen Marie Antoinette carried her pet papillon with her to the guillotine;  nothing is written as to whether the dog shared her fate, but I can imagine that the Papillon took a bite out of the executioner’s leg. Likewise, Madame Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, cherished a papillon called Inez. Despite being small, they are tough little dogs, and while incredibly sweet and friendly they are fearless. I find that quality quite endearing. 

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The papillon also appeared regularly in paintings featuring the 17th and 18th century royal children and ladies at court done by such old masters as Rubens, Titian and Van Dyck.Since we haven’t had problems with rats, Izzy tries to catch any flies or other insects that might come into view. It is fun to watch her trap and kill flies. 

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I have to say, that these two girls bring me a lot of joy and are exceptional therapy dogs for my continued struggle with the ongoing effects of PTSD. God I do enjoy them and how can I not?

Have a great weekend,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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3 Comments

Filed under dogs, papillons, PTSD

3 responses to “The Papillon Gambit

  1. Shirley Dundas

    Good one!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. DonM

    …small, but with the heart of wolf…

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