This morning, Luna gets me out of bed with animated barking at the front door. It is a frenzied canine monologue that means, “Someone’s out there!”, but not, “There’s a strange person at the door”. Through the sidelight window next to the front door, I see a long-legged rust colored dog. “Dammit”, I mutter, “Mrs. W. has to start keeping her dogs in her own yard”. The neighbor’s small dogs frequently escape their fencing and come to my property, driving Luna and Buster to barking, whining and pawing at the windows. It pisses me off.
The animal is on the asphalt driveway, sniffing at a coil of hose I had pulled out of the garage yesterday. He regards the three of us — me and barking dogs, one of whom seemed to have lost her senses — with a cool stare. Obviously not one of the nervous neighbor dogs, who let out ear-splitting staccato yips and scamper off. The dog version of Ding Dong Ditch. This guy, however, doesn’t seem to care that there is a large prick-eared dog having hysterics on the other side of a piece of glass.
By now, Buster is wagging his wiggly pit bull tail and barking occasionally, just to keep up with his big sister in the vocal department. He probably would try to make friends with the fox if they came face to face. Luna’s the protective German shepherd who would drive intruders away. At least that’s how I plot out their characters in my head…
Sharp nose, dark eyes and bushy tail…ah, it’s a Red Fox. This is the first one I’ve seen in eight years on this property. I’ve heard stories of sightings, but they hunt at dawn and twilight. I’m rarely up and never outside at dawn; in the twilight hours, the dogs are often in the securely fenced backyard, their scent making a fox skirt the area. Foxes need to be wary of larger animals as they are frequently preyed upon by coyotes, which also populate my suburban environs. And why pick a fight with a dog when there are so many smaller animals the fox can easily catch and eat — squirrels, birds, snakes, lizards? They didn’t come up with the term “sly as a fox” for no reason whatever.
My foxy friend trots nonchalantly away from the hose and into the front yard. Dogs move accordingly, tails wagging and barking less frantically as they jump on my disheveled bed searching for the visitor. They can smell him but the fox has vanished from sight. Too late, I go to the dining room window to see if I can watch him crossing the yard and heading into the woods across the street. But, he’s already gone.
Luna has lost interest in whatever might be outside the house and is indicating that it’s time for breakfast. Cats eat first, so she has an interest in getting me started on my morning duties. I dish out a couple of cans of Wellness turkey for the cats, fill the dogs’ bowls with kibble and some raw-diet chicken. Everybody seems satisfied with their meal. Everyone’s been fed. I can make a cup of tea and work the two crossword puzzles in the StarTribune. Puzzles complete, I stand at the window hoping the fox will return. He added spice to this fine September morning.