Monday, July 5, 2010

Ridgebacks, Coyotes and a Shiba Inu

            Last week at about 21:45 we set out for a walk on a farm road.  We have never encountered anyone on that particular walk.  I decided to walk around the entire field, the circumference of which might be a couple of miles.  We were half way through the first leg of the walk when Ginger froze and stared out into the darkness.  There has been an abundance of rabbits this year and I thought Ginger must be seeing one in the field; so I urged her on.   When she refused to budge I turned my flash on and saw a large coyote pacing us.  He was walking in the same direction we were but 20 feet away from us in the field.

            Ginger and I watched the coyote for a few moments.  I then turned my flash light out and urged Ginger on.  We managed another six feet when Ginger froze again.  I turned the flash back on expecting to see the coyote but he was gone.  "What," I asked Ginger, and then shined the light in the direction she was looking?  On the other side of the field I saw the reflection of coyote eyes staring at us.  I swung my flashlight slowly from left to right and saw perhaps 20 pairs of eyes.  While I have never been afraid of coyotes, seeing so many in that field was daunting and a bit eerie.  I decided not to challenge them by walking around the field as I intended.  Instead we took a different.

            Interestingly, only Ginger showed an interest in the coyotes.  Sage was looking in the brush on the other side of the road for rabbits.  It probably never occurred to her to worry about a pack of coyotes.  Sage is the toughest of my girls when it comes to confronting true danger.  She was the one who chased off some large off-leash dogs.  She also challenged a very large man who came directly at us one moonless night, despite my shining a light on my dogs and inviting him to go around us.  It was only when Sage growled and lunged in his direction that he decided to follow that advice.   And it was Sage who flung an enraged cat out into the street.  Sage and Ginger have both chased coyotes at the river.  Maybe Sage has lost interest in them the same way they both have for chasing birds.

            But my tough girl Sage behaved very differently when we were visited by my nephew, his fiancé and their male Shiba Inu, Hiru.  Hiru weighs 25 pounds to Sage's 90, but he is a dominant little cuss and terrorizes Sage -- or at least seems to.  She hops up on the couch to get away from him.  And there is no point in trying to feed her during her normal dinner time, because she won't eat with him there.  I stop Hiru from going after Sage and he listens to me, but if I'm away, and Ginger no longer wants to play with him then he will sometimes try to harass Sage.  

            Ginger likes all dogs and that includes Hiru.  She loves to play with him.  But Trooper didn't like little dogs.  He wasn't afraid of them but he wouldn't do anything to them in the house.  Outside on a walk if a dog attacked him, and for some strange reason several dogs of various sizes over the years did attack this extremely formidable Ridgeback, he would control them quicker than I could see and have them on their backs with his teeth on their throats.  He wouldn't hurt them and when I told him to let them go, he would, but that all changed in the house.  If we invited a dog into the house then he treated it as though it were a human visitor.  If we said the dog was okay, then he accepted that.  And if the dog misbehaved Trooper expected me to deal with it.  I can recall an Airedale giving him a bad time and Trooper looking at me as if to ask, "how long are you going to let this go on"?  When he gave me that look, I immediately stopped the Airedale.  I guess up until that look I thought Trooper would eventually deal with the problem, but he thought otherwise -- and so does Sage. 

            Sage seems more emotionally impacted by visiting dogs than Trooper ever did, but I don't know that for sure.  Trooper was stoic whereas Sage doesn't hide her emotions.


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