Late last night, or early in the morning, it all depends on when you start and end your day, I suppose, the Loki Mutt sat up and listened to the outside world. It’s still close enough to full moon that the mutts are weird, but they’ve been ran hard the last couple of days and the Elder Mutts aren’t biting tonight. Loki’s silhouette shows his ears in the moonlight, and I wait to see what he decides. Sleep overcomes curiosity and he rests his head on my leg. Both he and Sam are like that. They want to touch someone all the time, and be reassured they are still within this world. We both doze back into sleep, and in the very back of my mind I hear a small noise.
The moonlight is not only bright, it is incredibly so. I wake up at dawn and herd the dogs out. When I go into the kitchen I discover it isn’t dawn but four in the morning. Sam woofs in the dark and I hope they don’t crank up at the coyotes. I can see Sam and Luke at the fenceline, staring off into the moonlight. They wander around near the fence then take off to the woods. I lay back down and suddenly I hear the noise again. It’s a kid goat, perhaps, but it also sounds like a cat. Climber is the neighbor’s cat and he visits on occasion. He is also damn careful not to get near the fence or the dogs. Sam treed him one day and Climber stayed in that tree an hour after I put Sam in the house. I feel sleep drawing me in, and then the mutts want in.
Bert is still in the woods, and this surprises no one. I let the younger mutts in and go out into the yard. I can read the writing on my short it is so bright. The shadows in the woods are silver with light, and I pick out the spot where Bert is likely to appear. A darker shadow wanders into view, hesitates in the open, and then glides over to where the water bucket is. I see Bert’s form move towards me and suddenly his head comes up. What is that? Oh! It’s you! What the hell are you doing out here? Bert greets me in surprise and he likes that I’ve waited for him. Kisses for a dog’s dad! He takes point and we head back into the house. I hear the cat again, and I stop at the top step…is Climber in trouble?
Climber is a rugged Tom who had lasted for almost a decade out here, and that’s pretty good. He knows better than to yowl or cry in the night. The sound of distress in the dark draws an immediate response from all quarters, as well as a few dimes and nickels. The larger predators move in slowly, with much deliberation. The smaller predators wait to see what’s going on. The scavengers listen in the moonlight. The prey animals tune in to see what is happening, and to make sure whatever it is doesn’t move the predators nearer to them. The dogs go ears up and growl low. I hear the cat meow and then silence. One day, or one night, Climber will meet the fate of all small hunters, but damn.
I don’t have to go to work so I sleep in, and that means six thirty or so before Bert and Lucas demand I rise. Sam doesn’t care when we get up but Bert likes to get up early and Lucas just likes to poke me with a dog’s nose. Up, okay, up, okay, and breakfast and feed dogs. Lucas and Sam are both wound up but I write it off as me being home. Yet Lucas won’t let it go. He stares out of the front window and whines. I get the camera and focus in and out of the …two cats run out from under the front porch and it’s like someone poured meth into the dogs’ hearts. Sam and Lucas both assume I’ve flushed the game and will open the door. They collide with me as I’m trying to get out of the way and I nearly fall. All three are torn between wanting to get to the cats and wanting to go out of the back door, the only door they know I’ll let them loose upon the world. No one is going anywhere until I find out what the hell is going on.
Sam is a gentle and loving soul, he really is. He adopts women and children on sight, and likes to be petted more than any other dog alive. Yet Sam knows something that most human beings do not; there are a finite amount of resources on earth, and a finite amount of food. The easiest way to conserve what little there food there might be is to kill everything that eats food who isn’t family. Sam’s philosophy is as simple as it is heartbreaking. The product of deep starvation, Sam is a black torpedo with laser focus and speed. Lucas only knows what he is taught, and Bert is along for the ride when it comes to hunting.
We went through this with Wakita and she was nearly killed by Sam at least twice. She wound up dying of natural causes but I wasn’t able to keep her inside and safe because inside wasn’t safe. With one more dog it will be more than one dog worse. I cannot hope to have a cat here and hope the cat will live.
So now I plan to lure the cat in close and catch it in a trap. I hope to find a good home for the critter. I hope that if I have to take it to the Animal Shelter the end is quick and painless and doesn’t involve talons and teeth. I want a cat. But I have Sam, Sam, The Happy Hound, and the evil done to him by human beings means I can offer the cat less than I would.