Every so often, I have to do a “state of the bowsers” piece. Here’s the latest.
I do not doubt the loyalty of my two bowsers. One is a bulldog and I do not have to extoll the virtues of a bulldog’s tenacity. A bulldog clamps onto something, and does not let go. The other is an Aussie, Clancy, and he had an interesting reaction to something the other morning, one that I had never encountered before. See what you think.
The three of us had already been to the top of the driveway, without incident, spent five minutes just chilling on Bell Springs itself, and had come back down halfway to the house, when I got my chain seriously rattled by Clancy, who had come to a specific point in the road, and decided that stage right was where he needed to be-urgently. Dozer the bulldog never indicated that anything was amiss through the entire incident.
Clancy had almost pulled me right off my feet with his first dash to the right. I am accustomed to the habitual straining at the leashes. Believe me, of the two, Dozer packs a greater wallop because he is closer to the ground. Fifty-three pounds of hurtling bulldog, is going to make an impression on your body, particularly a tender shoulder socket, every time.
This time however, Clancy made earlier efforts by Dozer seem paltry by comparison. His lunge was so extreme, that had the Doze not been leaning in the opposite direction, giving me a bastion of support, so to speak, I would have surely been jerked unceremoniously off my feet. It was that severe of a charge. As it was, my right shoulder took the brunt of the pressure, and will give me problems again, until it settles down.
Clancy’s fur was standing on end; it was quite eerie. I have seen the nape of his neck go through the same process, but never his whole body. It was a though he had bitten through an electrical cord, coming out of the generator, and electricity was coursing through his body. I hung on for dear life for a moment, before I decided that his seventy ponds should really not be able to manhandle my 170 190 pound frame.
I was wearing my steel-toed constructo boots, and though there was no steel in the heels, I still dug them in, and just gave the matter my undivided attention, until Clancy saw things my way, for about ten seconds. It was long enough for me to get all three of us started in the correct direction, which was anywhere but right. As we bull-dozed our way toward home, Clancy continued to exhibit signs of extreme duress.
So what was that about?
There is a new kitty in the neighborhood; I know because I saw its tracks the other morning while walking in the mizzle. The hard-packed Bell Springs Road, gives way to a softer surface along the edges, due to the snow plow rearranging the surface all winter long.
In a spot that is well-known for its bear print sightings, I came across fresh cat tracks, that I estimated to be four inches in diameter. There were seven distinct pads on two of the four prints, arranged in two rows of three, in a happy face configuation, with the seventh pad at the top of the print. I could tell it was not a dog’s print, because there were no claw marks. Dogs cannot retract their claws the way cats do.
There was approximately 20 inches between strides, which was too long for a bobcat, so we are looking at the real McCoy here, a big cat. I think about that more than I probably should, each dawning morning, as I take off with both of my bowsers, on their walk up to the top of the driveway, a twenty-minute round trip. I do not think I would ever have any direct physical contact with a big cat, because the dogs would never let it get that close to me, as in “Where the Red Fern Grows.”
I used to worry about bears when I walked in the pre-dawn mornings, while teaching. Now I had something else to worry about. I think what happened this particular morning is, after we had started walking up to the top of the driveway, a big cat had started up in the same direction, off in the ravine that paralleled us along the length of the driveway. An Aussie’s olfactory nerves are said to be 25 million times greater than a human’s. That is incomprehensible to me, until I see the kind of reaction that Clancy experienced.
I was happy to accept that there was something new and exotic down in that creek bed, a critter that I was more than willing to leave alone. I also did not want to put the dogs’ trueheartedness to the test. I was willing to cling to my cherished belief, without actually finding out if it was misplaced.
After all, in “WTRFG,” Old Dan did not fare well, in his encounter with the big cat, and therefore said farewell. Little Ann, of course, followed suit. I would rather forego that formality, and stick to the regular green ferns that grow abundantly up here, on the north-facing slopes, and leave the red ferns to books.