[lit-ideas] Re: Milo's Excellent Adventure

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 20:55:04 -0800

Interesting story, Robert; someone said that small pets are more at risk
during the winter months when food is a bit scarce and June-July when
Juvenile predators are learning for themselves what they can eat.  Two days
ago I had an incident in this category.  I don't know whether I mentioned
here that Susan, who a long time ago said a dog wasn't a real dog unless it
was big, decided she wanted a lap-dog.  After much research she got a
"designer dog" called a Schnoodle, half Miniature Schnauzer and half
Miniature Poodle.  His name is Duffy.  He will be six months old on 11-27
and weighs about 14 pounds.  He will get larger but may not make it all the
way to 20 pounds.
Two days I saw something very large land in one of the Bottle trees in the
back yard.  The branch sagged from its weight.  Later I concluded it was a
very large red-shouldered hawk.  Crows had driven it into my tree.  I looked
around for Duffy and found him downstairs with the girls (my two Ridgebacks)
looking through the glass doors at the crows.  We went out in back where I
tried to see the hawk more closely.  All this attention must have been too
much for him, for he took off flying above the houses off toward some farm
land.  Duffy watched him carefully as he flew off.
This incident alarmed Susan when I told her about it.  Is Duffy at 14 pounds
too large for hawks?  Maybe some hawks but not the very large ones.  But
this hawk had probably been after crows.  Crows are on the red-shouldered
hawks menu.  Duffy is probably safe from hawks.  But in my subsequent search
I learned that owls may represent a greater risk.  They like to hang about
on tree limbs and swoop down on prey.  I read reports of very small dogs
being caught up and carried off by owls.  Also, a dog weighing 19 pounds was
mauled by an owl.  He couldn't carry this dog off, but he could kill it and
eat it on the ground which he would have done had he not been interrupted.
This dog was taken to the vets but didn't survive.
I haven't heard any owls in my trees.  Perhaps my crows would object to them
as well.  Someone assumed that my girls were probably always out there with
Duffy, but that isn't true.  They all have access to the doggy doors and the
backyard is far more of an adventure for Duffy than it is for my RR girls
who would rather sack out in my study.
We do have coyotes on the perimeter of our neighborhood, but I don't think
they would brave the distance to our backyard.  As to the coyotes at the
river, the girls chase them; so they aren't a problem there, and Duffy
always stays on leash with me.  Duffy is Susan's lapdog, but he thinks he is
a real dog and wants to go on all our hikes with us.  It is possible that
his experiences at the river may make him alert enough to spot an owl or
hawk coming after him, and he is pretty macho for a little guy.  He might
try to fight it -- as Milo did the coyote.
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Robert Paul
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 8:08 PM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Milo's Excellent Adventure
We have a little Jack Russell rescue, who's somewhere around two and weighs
twenty pounds. As a Terrier must, he barks daily at the squirrels that run
along the top of the back fence and swing impudently from branches, flicking
their tales at him. For the past few days though he's been running to the
front door and barking his deepest Big Dog bark; he keeps it up even after
I've turned on the outdoor light and seen nothing. There are a number of
cats who roam the neighborhood.  'Cats,'I said to myself.
Last night however he was in a frenzy, even though again I could see nothing
for him to be barking at. Finally, he quieted down and jumped up and lay
beside me as I was trying to watch a college basketball game on TV, and read
the New Yorker. The forecast had been for snow and below-freezing
temperatures-unusual for Portland, in November, and after a while I went to
the front door to sniff the air. I opened the door a crack-no more than
three inches-and like a shot, a shot propelled by a rocket on steroids, Milo
the Terrier was out the door and disappearing down the street, which was
lightly covered with frozen snow. I put on some shoes and an old hat and ran
upstairs to wake Linda. We backed the car out and drove slowly around the
neighborhood, trying to keep to the route we take when we're walking him.
Every now and then we would see flashes of white fur zooming the opposite
way from us. A few times he came near the car but when we reached out to
him, off he went again. Eventually, we gave up, came back inside and hoped
that Milo would find his way home by himself. In a bit, Linda went out again
on foot and came back to report that Milo was chasing a very big coyote
around the neighborhood, and that sometimes the coyote seemed to be chasing
him. She'd last seen them as they disappeared into the underbrush. I thought
of him lying bleeding from his wounds as he froze to death on this coldest
night of the year.
A happy ending: Milo kept returning to the front door but shying away when
we tried to grab his collar or his tail or even his fur. He did this three
or four times; but in the end, wet, muddy, half-frozen, he came in through
the door, which we'd left propped open, on his own. He was glad to be rubbed
down with dry towels and to be fussed over but his heart was still beating
as if he were still in flight or in hot pursuit. Or both.

Robert Paul
Lake Oswego OR

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