Night Dogs

Early this morning a waning gibbous moon faintly illuminated the landscape as I drove down winding rural roads. I had a near encounter with an atypical raccoon. It appeared in the middle of the road right after I had rounded a curve, looking at the approaching truck impassively. I braked suddenly and the animal disappeared under the truck. I backed up, hoping I wouldn’t see an agonized animal dying before me, bleeding and gaping at me as its innards spilled out. I peered over the truck’s hood; the ‘coon peered back at me, seemingly uninjured.

I carefully steered around the raccoon, which oddly enough didn’t attempt to flee into the darkness.

At the end of the road I delivered a Sunday paper at a friend’s farm, the newspaper bulging with shiny ads printed on flimsy glazed paper. On the way back up the lane I almost hit the same raccoon, which was still lingering in the road. It looked up at me with a dull expression as I attempted to ease by it. I stopped and rolled down the truck window. What was wrong with this animal? I could have easily gotten out of the truck and picked it up. But it might have been rabid… I imagined the crazed beast leaping up with diseased energy and fastening its teeth in my throat as it uttered a demented squeal. I rolled the window back up and drove on.

Thinking about this encounter I rounded yet another curve. I saw a group of mid-sized animals in the road before me. The smallest one was pale and its four companions were jet-black with contrasting ruddy mouths and tongues. What now?

I slowed down and saw that I had come across a pack of dogs out on an early-morning prowl. They looked up at me and I gazed down at them. They made no effort to run away, so I slowly followed them down the road. I got out my camera and managed to get some blurred shots before the dogs took off through the woods which bordered the road. The pack’s leader seemed to be a beagle, while the others were perhaps some hound mix, all-black dogs which probably came from the same litter. I’ve seen this before; I think roaming rural dog packs recruit a sharp-nosed beagle as a scout, a useful division of labor.

Here are the photos, rather blurred due to the long exposures and the motions of both the truck and dogs, but better than none at all. I was leaning out of the window as I drove:

I wonder how much territory such a pack of farm dogs covers in a night of hunting. Do they eat carrion, or perhaps prey on weak, young, or diseased animals? I wonder if they came across the ‘coon I nearly hit. Perhaps the dogs are all rabid now!

Larry

3 comments on “Night Dogs

  1. Larry says:

    From Bev — she commented on a photo again rather than the post:

    Little packs of dogs can manage to get into quite a good deal of trouble. I have found similar motley packs in a chicken run and found them chasing my dairy goats back in the day. Always bothers me to see such a thing as some farmers are quick to pick up the .22 and start shooting. Some of the packs have such small dogs that you would wonder that they could get into much trouble, but they do. Let’s hope all of them have their rabies vaccinations up to date!

    My response:

    Many farmers don’t bother with vaccinations. So a few go mad and die; there are always more being born! Same way with barn cats. It’s a shame, really, as feral dogs and cats do quite a bit of damage to remnant populations of native species, not to mention the depredations on chickens, goats, etc!

  2. bev says:

    Rather odd thing, but when I get an email notification that there is a new post up at RR, sometimes it must take me to a photo rather than the actual post. No idea how that happens.

  3. Jeff says:

    When I spent numerous winters planting trees down south years ago it was not at all uncommon to have lost hunting dogs wander into our “camp”. The hog hunters (a tradition at Xmas in Louisiana to make hot holiday sausage) would spray-paint identifying numbers on the flanks of the hounds, which were mostly white with brown and black patches.
    A woman joined the crew one year with a large doberman named “Preacher”, that followed her as she worked. I was the crew boss, and while I was doing measurements in one of our work sites, out in the middle of nowhere, a big doberman wandered up and I started petting it, saying, “Preacher- why aren’t you with Jean? And where’s your collar?” I was certainly surprised when Jean walked up with her dog- lucky the “stranger” was friendly!

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