The mahogany huntress leapt from one bale to the next in pursuit of her prey. Straw and dust swirled in the air as Beatrice, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, canvassed the barn with handler Ikuko Jones following briskly behind.
Jones sidestepped the hay bales as she watched intently for her dog’s “tell”: a swift, heavy swat of her white-tipped toes. But seconds were slipping by and Beatrice was no closer to narrowing in on her target.
The sinewy hound was historically bred to fend off lions; today, she was eluded by a common rat.
“Time!” the judge called. Jones collected her dog and was directed to a corner of the ring where, tucked beneath a loose layer of straw, a rat was cozy in a thick PVC tube, safe from the jaws and paws of the dogs who hunted him.
“She was just having too much fun. She didn’t try and find anything,” Jones said as they exited the barn at Silver Rose Ranch, in Chino Hills, California. She was pleased with her dog’s efforts nonetheless, and Jones wasn’t done for the day—she’d be back with Livie, the sleeper, for another round of Barn Hunt.