Yesterday my coworker told me two dogs broke in to his goat pen and killed his three pet Nigerian dwarf goats. He came home from work and as he pulled up to the barn wondered why all his goats were lying down in the middle of the day. He’d bottle raised these animals from babies and had them many years, pampering them with home-built playgrounds made from cedar he’d milled himself.
This is a tough old Southern farmboy who walks with the swagger of a man used to being able to outmuscle or outsmart anyone he comes across, a sixty-five year old Vietnam vet, and yet his eyes skittered from mine and his hands busied themselves patting papers on his desk when he said, “They were so tame… They’d follow you around just like puppies.”
He left their bodies lying where they fell hoping to entice the dogs—which were feeding on the carcasses and had run as he’d approached—to return. Because the dogs were wearing collars, he got the county sheriff to set live traps. But he’s also got his gun by the door loaded with, “something that’s not going to just sting their asses,” and the sheriff has agreed to look the other way if he’s called to collect empty traps.
Tucker spent all yesterday evening fussed up over something in the woods. He worried up and down his invisible fence line until it was dark and time to go inside. When I let him out around 11, he ran straight to the woods and barked and barked. After a few minutes of that I called him and he flew in the door, the most keyed up I’ve ever seen him. His tail was sticking straight up and bristly, and he kept nudging aside the kitchen door curtain to look out at the night. When that didn’t get me to open the door, he ran to the front door and stared out the sidelight, running back to bore his eyes into mine with the gravity of this message. He was clearly telling me something was going on Out There that was offending the order of his kingdom.
I know too much about what can happen in the woods in the dark to let him back outside, so I waited until he calmed down and put him to bed.
Then in the middle of the night I awoke to a bark directly under my open bedroom window. As I surfaced to consciousness I heard other canine voices join in chorus, so close to the house that I could follow each distinct animal, and I heard them pacing. These weren’t the neighbor’s dogs, nor the hounds at the hunt club behind my house. The noise and its proximity chilled my spine. It didn’t sound like coyotes, which I frequently hear up on the mountain. These sounded like dogs.
And then as quickly as it began the chorus died and the normal night noises flowed back to fill the space left by the canine sounds.
No harm came from this late-night visit but I couldn’t fall back asleep. As I was attempting to reenter the stream I remembered a conversation I’d had with Tucker’s breeder as I was debating the merits of neutering a male dog. She told me that where she lives, in Ohio, she’s known packs of coyotes to lure unneutered male dogs out of their yards. Then the whole pack gangs up and kills the dog.
It might be time to get that shotgun.