Even though scent is poorer in hot dry weather, a good dog will show you where creatures have come from and gone to, and where they stopped along the way.
Sharp noses train sharp eyes: soon you understand the meaning of small scuffs and stains, whether something has dug from above or below ground, what those tufts of fur came from and the story behind the feathers.
Fresh scrapes in the ground, fresh toothmarks on trees, a dappled line through the grass where feet have trodden, a tuft of hair under a fence, all of it murmurs of passers-by, leading their own secret lives on the periphery of ours.
I leave as much be as I can, but there are times and places where I must interfere, to keep the status quo gentle.
I know the old dog has scented a squirrel, because he has followed an erratic ground scent and is now on his hindlegs looking up a tree.
He runs to the next tree and does the same, so the scent must be fresh. I look up the tree also, but see nothing in the canopy.
That there are squirrels I have no doubt, and too many of them as well, but whatever went up the tree has moved on.
Now we start to check the rabbit traps, finding one well-grown youngster which will make sweet eating, one trap that a fox has dug around and that I have to re-site, and everything else in order.
The trap that the fox interfered with will not catch for a while now because the fox has left its scent all about, but presently the tang will disperse and the trap can do its job again.
I will have left my scent on it too, but not so much.
We move away from the formal part of the garden to where the moles have been, but luckily they have not come back so far.
Having a mole is a compliment on the state of the soil, but rather a nuisance in the kitchen garden, leaving vegetables listing stranded in the sun with roots signalling for help.
Rabbits in the vegetables are even more serious, but the fencing has so far kept them out, though I note from the dog's demeanour that they are under the summerhouse again. I shall have to come back with a ferret and some nets, and a dog that moves faster, for although the old lad's spirit is undiminished, he cannot move as quickly as once he could: it comes to us all in time.
At the back of the tennis courts, his tail lifts like a flag, and his ears move forward over his head in a pose I call his 'hunting hat'.
Knowing not to touch the traps, he stops in classic pointing pose, one foreleg raised, eyes fixed on the trap. I have the trapping equivalent of a hole in one: two squirrels in one trap.
They are adult-sized but this year's young stock, and again will make tender eating.
It is somewhat tricky to deal with two in one, but we do so, and then look at that, we have another trap with a young squirrel in it too.
A litter must have dispersed to new territory, and I may have one or two yet to catch.
The day is building up to unpleasantly warm, but our work here is finished, and we can go back through the cool of the woods.
This evening we shall call back again, when the shadows lengthen and the mosquitos gather, bringing swallows swooping across the lawns.