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Barking

I wish the world would understand that outside of Roadrunner cartoons, coyotes do not know how doorknobs work.

Okay, I don't actually care if the rest of the world understands that, but I sure wish my dog would get it.

We have several families of coyotes in our neighborhood. I have nothing against them – whatever they need to prosper, if it involves field mice and rabbits, I see as not my problem. I'm not overly fond of what they do to the pheasants, but there’s a school of thought that having a few coyotes around cuts down on the raccoon population, and raccoons are very hard on pheasant and duck nests. I don't know if that's true, but I'm just trying to make the point that I'm not carrying out a vendetta against coyotes. If the windows are shut, I can't even hear them howling.

But my dog can.

Frances’ core belief is that coyotes howling in the darkness are clearly plotting an invasion of our farmstead and it's her duty to alert EVERYONE.

Now, I don't know what the coyotes are talking about, and if they’d just learn to text like the rest of the civilized world, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But the coyotes howl, Frances hears them and plants herself with her back to our front door like Davy Crockett at the Alamo. Her ferocious barking wakes up the little dog who has no idea what's going on but begins barking in solidarity, and then I'm lying on my back staring at the ceiling, thinking that it would be more restful if I'd just pitch a tent in the middle of I-94. I do this for about 13 or 14 minutes before I get up, stumble through the dark house to the porch and invite the big goof inside. She paces back and forth between the two doors, looking for vulnerable spots that invading coyotes could exploit, then settles down on a rug, warily watching for any incursion and ready to launch an ambush. Then I go back to bed and spend another couple of hours trying to remember how to go to sleep.

Here's the point I wish Frances would understand. The ducks and chickens are locked in, as far as I'm concerned the cats are on their own, and coyotes cannot open doors, sneak into our bedroom and kill us in our beds. There's no real danger. If she wants to show she's on the job, a couple quiet “woofs” would be sufficient.

The barking does work. A few years ago, there was a bout of alarming barking in the night. We had about an inch of snow overnight and the next morning when I drove out the driveway, I saw a set of coyote tracks that came from the road and proceeded about halfway up our driveway, then made an abrupt U-turn and headed off to someplace that sounded a little less dangerous.

It's not that I don't appreciate Frances being willing to defend us with her life, but it's a little like having an 8-year-old make you breakfast in bed for Father's Day. You love the gesture, but you can't help but think how much simpler life would be if he'd just made a card.

I'd write more but I need a nap.


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