Our outdoor pets must go along to get along at times, especially when wild critters come calling.
It’s all fun and good times when people are outside with their pets. We’re kinda scary to most of the wild critters that come into our neighborhoods, but when we go to bed, our neighborhoods — including our very own backyards — go through a change of shifts. The night shift is wild!
Take Humphrey, a smaller dog who currently lives at my place and belongs to my grandkids. He is one of those species that cause me to gaze at them and wonder what niche the breeders had in mind when they came up with his kind. It still puzzles me. Maybe they thought that someone would surely love the good-natured dog, so they let the mutt breed. Yeah, he’s a mutt and acts like a puppy, so I call him a muppy.
My family was surprised (after waking up to loud sounds and making several investigative forays into the midnight backyard) to discover that the muppy Humphrey had two friends. Well, he shared the backyard with two wild critters, whether there was friendship involved or not.
One was a large-scale raccoon and the other was a skunk. Both came to visit at night to see what snacks had been left outside and to see if the dog’s food dish and water had been left out. Nothing is better — to a raccoon and also to a skunk — than easy pickings.
So as the family was thinking about what to do, I interjected a dose of critter reality. The muppy didn’t have much choice here. Sure it could puff up, bark loudly and try to shoo the visitors away. It wouldn’t work. That raccoon could kick the dog’s scrawny little butt with one sharp-clawed paw tied behind its back. The skunk has its own smelly methods of getting its way. The dog doesn’t have much choice but go along with the wildlife in order to get along with the wildlife. Fortunately, the muppy was just smart enough to figure this out before getting too badly hurt in the initial scuffles.
To give the dog a nonfighting chance, I recommended bringing the food and water dishes inside at night, and to clean up the backyard before retiring. If there is rarely any chance for a tidbit, those wild critters may not be around as much. Well, except for that skunk, which has taken up residence here and has formed a truce with us humans. We don’t scare it, and it doesn’t spray us. This is a working relationship.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.