My dog Barney is the ultimate barn dog. He loves going out to the farm with me, doing a happy wiggle when he sees me pulling on my breeches. He hangs out in the arena while I ride and dances with excitement when I head out the back gate to go on a trail ride. He’s also epic for his groundhog-eradication skills, having sent at least three to rodent heaven so far. His favorite treat, though, is when he gets to stay with my coworker and friend, Traci, who happens to live at the farm where we board our horses. Late summer and fall are busy travel times for us at Practical Horseman. Earlier this month I attended the AETA trade show in Pennsylvania, and less than a week later repacked my bags and flew to Lexington, Kentucky, for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. My husband, who usually looks after Barney when I’m away, was also going out of town, which meant that Barney got to visit with “Aunt Traci” for a few days. Traci has two cats who, when they first met “B-Dog,” set stringent ground rules. One swat across the nose with a claw during that introduction, and Barney developed a healthy understanding of where he stands with them. Since then, they’ve become best buddies. In fact, Barney and Traci’s younger cat, Miles, have an ongoing game of hide-and-seek. Falfie, the older cat, likes when Barney visits, too?mostly because she loves to sleep on his bed. When I came to pick him up this last time, Barney was enthusiastic to see me and join me for a ride. As I trotted around the arena, I was a little perplexed when he started sniffing around the flower boxes under one of the jumps. I took a break to watch him for a few minutes as he got more insistent. He was digging under the boxes, pulling at the rope carry handles with his teeth, snarfing into the holes in the top where the flowers go in and swatting the boxes with his paws. All of a sudden, I saw his quarry: a little mouse popped out from under one box and disappeared into a hole in the top of the other. Barney was hot on its trail. With his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth and spit flying, Barney became obsessed. I doubted much would come of his actions, so Wowie and I went back to work. A few minutes later, I heard a kerfuffle coming from the direction of the flower boxes, and I looked over to see what was happening. I was shocked to see Barney standing there looking quite smug with a tail hanging out of his mouth! He proudly paraded his prize around the arena, looking like he had a squeaky toy in his mouth. (I guess, technically, it was.) I praised him when he spit it out under the tree in the middle our arena. Then he headed back to the flower box, and I went back to work. Beginner’s luck, I thought. And what are the chances he’d find, much less catch, another one? At least it would keep him occupied until I finished my ride. A few minutes later, I heard another scuffle. This time I turned around just in time to see him snag a second little rodent on the run. I think the poor thing was dead before it left the ground. Barney ran up to me, eyes sparkling, as he showed off his trophy. I made a note that he wouldn’t be giving me kisses for awhile and called it a day. It left me wondering what kind of school Traci’s cats are running upstairs in her apartment. Whatever it is, Barney has some pretty lucrative skills. I’m thinking of renting him out. He’ll happily work for biscuits.