Q My neighbour has a two-year-old springer spaniel that she has trained to use as a gundog. Last summer the dog attacked and killed two of our free-range hens. Recently it has started attacking again. This is a delicate situation. In each case the owner had taken the dog for a walk on the lane and in the fields. As a gundog it has many years of usefulness but its behaviour near to home needs sorting. What can be done to cure or retrain a chicken killer? Your advice, please.
KD, by email
A Your neighbour has broken various laws. Persistent stock killing is very serious and your neighbour is behaving in an anti-social way in allowing her dog to do this repeatedly. The dog needs to be kept on a lead near stock and if she refuses to do this then you should contact the dog warden attached to your local authority or police station. The dog warden will then visit the owner and explain the various options open to her, including where to find local dog-training classes. The Kennel Club should also be able to recommend a local gundog training club.
The dog doesn’t have a useful life ahead as a gundog if it behaves like this – it wouldn’t be welcome on any respectable shoot. The main law that may be relevant in this instance is the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, which gives livestock owners the right to shoot dogs that are harassing their animals if on agricultural land. This applies to any domestic livestock – goats, pigs, horses, sheep, poultry and cattle.
Q My father, who was born in Northamptonshire in 1892, used to sing a lively hunting song. I believe that part of the chorus went, “So drink, puppy, drink, let every puppy drink… and we’ll all halloo and we’ll follow.” I wonder whether any Field readers might know this song as I would love to know all the words.
EMM, Chipping Norton, Oxon
A Drink, Puppy, Drink was a song composed by the novelist George John Whyte-Melville, who lived from 1821 to 1878.
The words are as follows:
Here’s to the fox in the earth below the rocks,
And here’s to the line that we follow,
And here’s to the hound with his nose upon the ground,
Tho’ merrily we whoop and we holloa!
Chorus (after every verse):
Then drink, puppy, drink,
Let every puppy drink,
That’s old enough to lap and to swallow,
For he’ll grow into a hound,
So we’ll pass the bottle round,
And merrily we’ll whoop and we’ll holloa.
Here’s to the horse and to the rider, too,
And here’s to the rally o’ the hunt, boys;
Here’s a health to every friend, who can struggle to the end,
And here’s to the tally-ho in front, boys.
Here’s to the gap and the timber that we rap,
Here’s to the white thorn, and the black, too;
And here’s to the pace that puts life into
And the fence that gives a moment to the pack, too.
Oh, the pack is staunch and true,
Now they run from scent to view,
And it’s worth the risk to life and limb and neck, boys;
To see them drive and stoop till they finish with “Who-whoop”,
Forty minutes on the grass without a
Q Wasps have been stripping the surface of our outdoor teak furniture over the past couple of years. Do you know of something that would deter them without killing any other insects that might land on it?
TJ, Sibbertoft, Leicestershire
A Wasps build their nests from pulp gathered from the scraping and eating of wood. They attack garden furniture and leave marks which will scrub and weather out. Walkham Teak in Devon recommends that you remove these with a scrubbing brush and water. This is easier if the furniture has been thoroughly wetted and allowed to stand for 20 minutes to soften any surface dirt. After scrubbing allow the teak to dry fully before sanding very lightly with glass paper. Then wash the furniture with a very strong solution of Dettol and water. If the wasps have been regularly attacking the wood you may have a nest nearby, which Walkham recommends you have destroyed. For further advice call Walkham Teak on 01822 852252.
No Flies On These Birds
Q Can you help me find something that looks like a tent with net sides that one can hang up to keep shot birds in and the flies out. Having been given some rather infested birds from family these bags would make good presents for a few of them.
CB, by email
A The Game Safe is a storage bag that keeps shot birds in a fly-free environment. It is easily flat-packed but opens into a hanging bag with hooks inside and out. It is fully washable, has a removable drip tray and can hold up to six birds, depending on size. It costs £29.95 from The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, tel 01425 652381.
Seats of Change
Q I have a 40-year-old garden swing seat in which three can sit comfortably. Unfortunately the canvas has now reached the end of its life and
I haven’t been able to find a replacement one anywhere. Have you any suggestions?
JR, Haywards Heath, West Sussex
A Canvas covers for swing seats and their cushion can be made to order by Zippy UK. The company has a good range of plain and patterned fabric designs, the majority being waterproof and some washable. Zippy UK is happy to send samples of suitable fabrics in colours of your choice.
It suggests that you then return the samples indicating which you have chosen and with the measurements of the items you wish to have covers for. It will give you a full quote and all made-to-measure items should be ready within six weeks. Zippy UK can also supply fillings for the cushions if these are now exhausted. For further details and quotes email firstname.lastname@example.org or