Last winter I convinced Kathleen we should get a dog to help protect the new homestead. She wasn’t crazy about the idea but we ended up with a large, black dog of dubious heritage. This morning I was convinced he had fulfilled his mission and chased away an A-list predator. Now I’m not so sure.
The back story, in case you haven’t been following, is that we now live on the side of a mountain in Northwest Montana surrounded by thousands of acres of Rocky Mountain forest. In that forest, among the squirrels and chipmunks, live bears, mountain lions and wolves. This is not the forest that Bambi lives in, this is the real deal where big things eat little things. Still much safer, I believe, than the New York City subway
Picture from RMEF
Hercules, the fitting name given to our new dog by the shelter staff, has a job: he is to protect the home and its occupants from the A-list predators that wander the backyard. To date. I have seen him aggressively go after small gray squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional butterfly. For the more sensitive among you fear not, he has yet to capture anything. Mostly he sits in the dirt and watches me work around the property. None the less, I had hopes that the dog who barks leisurely at the UPS truck but not the Fedex truck will, when needed, rise to the occasion.
Last night we went to bed at the usual time and read for about five minutes before falling asleep. Hercules sleeps at the foot of the bed, ala Lassie, and, for the most part, has been very good at night. He patiently waits for me to get up.
Over the winter, a mountain lion roamed the property but we haven’t had any evidence of him/her since so I figured the big cat was self-isolating somewhere up the mountain. A couple of days ago my wildlife savvy was found to be incorrect. Our neighbor told Kat that her son had seen a mountain lion walking up our driveway.
It’s been warm at night here so we have been sleeping with the sliding door to the bedroom open to the outside. The glass door was open but the screen was locked. I felt safe. What could happen?
About an hour after lights out I heard a noise. A rushing noise. The sound of a 100-pound dog running through the screen door and disappearing into the night. No barking, no growling, just the flash of black dog on a dark night.
“I don’t know!”
I pushed the now leaning screen door aside and stood out on the patio. There was the sound of rustling in the trees. Branches were being pushed aside. Was this the sound of a big dog protecting the homestead? I called Hercules and he came back, smiled at us and immediately went inside to lay down.
I asked him, “What was going on??”
He didn’t answer.
I knew though. He had chased the A-list predator away from the door. He had saved the family and earned his dinner. I went to sleep knowing this multi-pedigreed dog had been the right choice. Morning came and we went for our walk down the road. I looked for sign of a big cat. Some sign of a tussle. Nothing. Probably because the cat was in Idaho by now. Good dog.
When we reached our house, I looked up at one of the fir trees in front of the house. I don’t know why but something made me look up. There, in the branches, wasn’t the giant Puma. Instead I was looking at a frightened house cat. He was half-way up and not coming down anytime soon.
I asked Hercules, “Is that what you were chasing? Is that why you crashed through the screen door?”
He didn’t answer, he just went inside, laid down and took a nap. It had been a rough night.