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Rediscovering AnimalsĀ 

How the Hen House Turns 7. Strolling Coyote, Poncho and Raccoons

Poncho on adoption day March 1972

One day Strolling Coyote came by--the one who made a habit of moving along the back fence, setting off all the dogs, barking their heads off. Poncho, our young "Santa Fe shepherd," wasn't old enough to know better, so he decided to make friends with the big handsome fellow standing on all fours at the back gate. Nose to nose they met through the chain link fence. No barking. No sign of anything untoward. Suddenly, Poncho crumpled into a ball--tail tucked way under--and raced for the back porch, where I stood watching, wondering what nasty message Coyote had whispered to our innocent Santa Fe shepherd.

Now thirty years later, DeeDee, unlike Poncho (and twenty pounds heavier) doesn't let coyotes worry her. She and Scooter noisily take them on when they dare to fill the canyon with their terrified-infant howling imitations. They don't come close to the fence when the dogs are out.

I had left DeeDee's dog door open the night she and Scooter chased a huge raccoon up the apple tree next to the house. The din woke half the town, and I had a tough time convincing the dogs to come into the house. That raccoon could have done some real damage to them, if it had decided to. After some stalling with a variety of objections and complaints, like the well-trained canines they are, they came in the house. I watched the raccoon take off for the fence, then let the dogs out to convince him to stay out.

I don't mind raccoons taking a huge bite out of every apple on every tree, but when they break down the chicken doors and commit senseless murder, they will find themselves not welcome. In our Ponderosa country, chickens don't have a chance surviving without padlocks and watchful dogs.

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