Sugar and Girl, our pig pasture dogs, started barking last night about ten thirty. It's not uncommon for them to get wind of something on the other side of the fence and bark for hours even after the perceived threat has long since moved on, so these incidents have to be taken with a grain of salt. The dogs are still young, but are bred to alert on wild hogs. That's why they are in the pasture. To protect our four-legged treasures by keeping the wild boars away, and keeping the blood lines clean and pure. Despite dozens of past false alarms, we went out and checked but could find nothing amiss, so we went on to bed. Even with false alarms we do not chastise the dogs for barking.

This morning I woke up at five a.m. to the sound of Girl barking again. Of the two, Girl is the most tenacious. She's got the most severe case of sticktoitiveness that I have ever seen. So, well before daylight Fred went out again to check. When he came running back into the house out of breath and telling me to open the safe I felt my blood pressure go up a notch. There was a wild boar in with our ladies.

"Wake Jake up and tell him there's a wild hog in the pasture. Tell him to find my spotlight!"

The presence of a strange boar prompts all types of bizarre behavior. There was a full moon, providing enough light to see how to get around, but not enough to make me feel comfortable being out there in the current environment. By the time we got there with the rifle, it was utter chaos. Both dogs were foaming at the mouth, their hackles standing on end, teeth bared. The sows were all excited, their movements erratic, their grunting and squealing at a fever pitch. They were snapping at each other, running around wildly, threatening to step on us or knock us down if we weren't careful. The wild hog, reacting to our sudden presence, went from one end of the pasture to the other at a dead run, with Girl a split second behind him.

"Watch him, now!" Fred warned. "He's all worked up, he won't think twice about turning on you!"

I looked up the moment the words were out of his mouth to see the boar heading right at me. He was small in comparison to our domestic hogs, about a hundred and fifty pounds. I stepped to my right, putting a pen between myself and the boar and breathed a little sigh of relief. At his size, there were only a couple of gilts that he could have gotten to, assuming the dogs had given him enough time to do so. Furthermore, I figured as small as he was, the damage where he got in would probably be minimal.

Jake and I tried to calm the dogs to give Fred time to get a bead on the hog. I reached out and snagged Girl by the scruff of the neck and held her as the wild hog raced past. I could feel his panic as he searched desperately for a way out.

A shot rang out and I heard Fred curse.

"Get the **** out the way, Little Sister!"

Our sows kept coming between Fred and the wild hog, making a clear shot almost an impossibility. From where I was, I could see nothing but the beam of the flashlight swinging around erratically. More cursing and wild squealing, Daphne, a five hundred pound Yorkshire sow came running past, having absolutely no idea where she was going or what she was doing, just going. I felt the ground shake as she went past, **** bent for leather and not the least concerned with anything or anyone who might be in her path.

Another shot, and then the sound I had been waiting and hoping for. The high pitched squealing of the wild hog. He had been hit. It was just a matter of time, now. Fred came walking up, still out of breath.

"I had about a two foot safety margin." He said. "He was right behind one Oprah (one of the smaller gilts) but I knew if I didn't take the shot I might not get another chance anytime soon."

The sun just started to peek by the time Fred and Jake each grabbed a leg and dragged the boar to the gate. Daphne had yet to calm down and had to be chased away several times from the carcass. Girl and Sugar took one last sniff of the hog and then retreated into the dog house. They had had enough excitement for one day.

"Hook this thing to the tractor when you get home from school and drag it out back." Fred told Jake.

We went back into the pasture and called the dogs, praising them lavishly for several minutes. There didn't seem to be any doubt in their minds as to what they had done right, as they kept one eye keenly trained on the wild hog outside the fence at all times. All the work and effort in selecting the right dogs and the training had finally paid off. Put to the test the first time, they had excelled. We're not sure how long the wild hog was in there. Today we'll search for signs of heat in the girls and any that appear to be in heat will be quarantined until we can determine if they were 'caught' or not. With any luck at all, the dogs kept him too busy. What a way to start the day.