The fox and the hound

Something has been eating the outside cats’ food. We suspected that it was a new stray dog that showed up several weeks ago. The dog is so skittish that it runs at the mere hint of a human’s presence. This picture looks like a spy shot, but it was the best I could do through the kitchen window screen.

stray_winter15

The dog looks like a cross between a basset hound and some kind of Australian shepherd dog. It has a fairly large body and head, but short legs.

We have been feeding it for about two weeks. We started partly to protect the cat food, but also because the dog was outside and exposed to some pretty harsh weather. I put an old dog house at the end of the driveway, hoping it would get in during the coldest nights, but it didn’t. Neighbor Deb says it seems to be sleeping near or in one of their out buildings.

It turns out that the dog isn’t the cat food eater anyway. The real culprit is a fox. Unlike the stray dog, this fox is not at all skittish. Here he is in the driveway after scouting for food. He, or she, is a real beauty, and healthy looking.

foxindrive

I know the fox has also been eating the dog food we leave for the stray, because he left his calling card one day — poop in the dog food bowl. I have noted that kind of behavior before.

On Saturday the dogs were on the deck making a racket. I went out and saw the fox. He walked casually around in the back yard and then sat down to look at me, Zeke and Lucy.

foxsittinginback

Zeke was barking, of course, but the fox ignored him. I shouted and waved my arms, but he only stared. Crazy human. I went down off the deck to get a couple of rocks. I threw one in his general direction. He was not impressed. I threw another, trying to land it closer to him. He jumped and ran back about six feet and then stopped to watch again.

I have written about our foxes and my ambiguous feelings about having them so close to the house. I have decided that it’s best for everyone if they stay away, but they seem not to take me seriously.

But the fox is a problem for another day. Our real problem is the stray dog. With us feeding him and Deb providing unintentional shelter, he’s probably OK for the short term. I want to get him to a rescue group so they can find a good home for him, but he is absolutely unapproachable. He sometimes watches from the woods as I pass with the dogs, but if I look at him or otherwise acknowledge him, he immediately retreats.

A trap seems to be the only option. We have live traps but nothing big enough for him. We have been told that we can borrow one from the local humane society or the county animal control. We will eventually set a trap and hope he calms down once he’s restrained. Dogs will sometimes do that.

A local rescue group saves a lot of animals at our pound, so if we can get him there, he stands a chance of finding a home.

Gate birds

Leah and I were at the Tractor Supply store near Rome a couple of days ago, looking for a possible new cat house, when it kind of gradually dawned on us that there were a lot of birds chirping nearby.

littlebirdsCan you see them on top of the stack of fence gates? A whole flock of little brown birds, either wrens or sparrows (I can’t tell the difference). I’m not sure why they were sitting there. It was a gray and slightly misty day, but it’s possible the stack of gates might have collected enough solar heat to give them a little extra warmth.

I listened to the songs of the wren and sparrow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but I can’t tell which sounds more like what I remember of these birds’ song.

It was odd to see them there, but the funny thing was that they sang as long as we didn’t look at them. When we looked at them, they fell completely silent. It we looked away, they began to sing again. Shy little birds.

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas

and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a …

Hey, Zeke, come on, you know Santa will never come if you stay up looking for him.

Zeke, get away from the door

Go on, Zeke, go to bed and go to sleep.

zeke in bedGood dog. Hey, Chloe, you heard what I told Zeke!

chloe looking outEveryone go to bed, right now!

That’s right, Lucy, good dog.

lucy in bedYou, too, Sylvester, good kitty.

sly kind of asleep

Come on, now, Smokey, you  aren’t fooling anyone.

smokey faking it

There, Smokey, that’s better.

smokey asleep

Look, even Chloe is finally asleep.

chloe asleepOK, I think everyone is in bed.

And soon, we’ll be visited by that right jolly old elf …

st dogolas

St. Dogolas!

And so, from Leah, Mark, Zeke, Chloe, Sylvester and Smokey,

happy christmas

and to all a good night!

 

This is a repost from last Christmas, but, unfortunately, one of the star players in that post, Zoe, is no longer with us. Goodbye, kitty.

goodbye zoe

Studied indifference

Back before my mother died, her little dog Lucy almost always found a place on Mother’s furniture if not on her lap. Since we inherited Lucy we haven’t let her on our sofa much, but occasionally Leah lets her up. She likes to bury her head under a pillow like this:

lucy hides her head

Smokey the cat also likes to jump up on the sofa between Leah and me. He does a little nesting, usually testing how soft my leg is, and then settles in lying as close as he can to me. Odd, since Leah is the cat person and I’m the dog person. I do usually give him an ear massage, and he turns his purr machine up to 11.

Smokey and the rest of our cats get along reasonably well with the dogs if their paths happen to cross, but they usually retreat pretty quickly when the dogs get too nosy. The other night Smokey and Lucy found a way for both of them to get their full sofa time.

lucy and smokey 2They ignored each other.

 

The Berry Eagle

I mentioned in an earlier post that someone had dumped a deer carcass near the intersection of Fouche Gap Road and Lavender Trail, not far from our house. On Saturday our neighbor stopped to talk when I was walking the dogs. He said that a bald eagle had been feeding on the deer carcass. I didn’t see it when we went down the mountain, but when we came back up, it was feeding. I stopped as soon as I saw it and took some pictures. Unfortunately, all I had was my phone, which has a wide angle lens.

eagle on deer_atadistanceThe eagle is the little speck that looks like it’s part of the shadows where the road curves back to the left. If you squint and take my word for it, you can see the bird standing on the carcass. Here’s a blowup that’s not much better.

eagle pointed out

I tried to get closer, but as soon as I moved, the eagle saw me and immediately flew up into a tree.

eagleintree

The image quality is not good, but it’s the best I could do with the phone. I cropped down as far as I could without losing too much detail.  I took my little Canon with a short telephoto lens on my dog walks on Sunday and Monday but didn’t see the eagle. I’m afraid the deer carcass is so worked over now that the eagle may not come back.

This was almost certainly one of a pair that has been nesting on Berry College property for the last few years. Berry has a Web cam at the nesting site. According to Berry’s Web page, this is the “first documented nest in the modern history of Floyd County.” There are two eagle nests on the Berry campus, but it’s not clear whether there are two nesting pairs. One nest is close to the main entrance of the college, and the other is somewhere on Lavender Mountain in an inaccessible area. The inaccessible nest is probably only a few miles from our house.

One pair has laid, hatched and fledged eaglets from the accessible nest.

Berry College had planned to construct an athletic facility near where one nest is located but has moved the construction site away to avoid interfering with the eagles.

I have never seen a bald eagle in Georgia, so it was a real thrill to see this one. There is an eagle nest on an old bridge over the Tennessee River near Scottsboro, Alabama. I used to cross that bridge almost every week when I worked in Huntsville, and I am pretty sure I saw an eagle on that nest on one occasion. The only other time I have seen eagles is when Leah and I visited Alaska on our honeymoon in 2005.