I didn’t move out into the woods to declare war on nature. I think I do a pretty good job living in peace with my wild neighbors. I don’t shoot the deer that come to graze in my yard. I don’t kill the venomous snakes that slither through on a regular basis. I don’t even raise an eyebrow when a coyote passes by but I think they know where I stand on the issue. We’ve talked about it, the coyotes and I, and we all agree that some space is needed for there to be an easy truce. I have a very great respect for pack hunting techniques and I rather they be deployed somewhere out of shotgun range. See how well that works out when it is worded the right way? I have a fence. The Mutts and I live inside the fence. Everything else can live outside the fence, or if they act sensibly, as the deer do, they can even come inside.
The armadillos and I have spoken about this. I do not think my words mean what they think they mean, thank you Inigo Montoya.
In thirteen years I have never killed an armadillo here. Well, I did shoot one in the head but Bert and Sam had done unspeakable things to it before I could call them off. I have saved the lives of at least three. While it was just Sam and Lucas no armadillos died. The addition to Lilith added a pure blooded huntress to the pack and while she’s not really built for heavy lifting, Lilith is made entirely of the speed and she comes bundled with a laser like focus. She only has to slow something down until Lucas arrives. Lucas is a charge in, frontal assault, let’s trade artillery fire, fuck you that’s why, teeth first fighter. If you can’t get away from Lilith in just a couple of seconds your odds of survival are going to decrease as that sound you hear rumbling towards you increases in volume. Lucas has the stealth of a falling tree with a siren on it.
There’s some wisdom in this sort of fighting. Lilith is like Bert in that she growls while she’s closing in on her prey. Bert had this weird sounding growly cough that exploded from his chest as he got close. I think that’s to panic the prey. It ought’a. To have a predator coming in on you at speed making that sound gives you about a second to decide what to do and you have to be right. I haven’t seen Lilith kill yet but I watched Bert and Sam kill as a team. It’s a very reasonable thing for me to speak to the coyotes about fences. Pack hunting is as an efficient way of killing I have ever seen, short of gunfire and hour long lectures by Christian preachers.
I’ve tried to dissuade the killing of armadillos by the mutts but the first thing I have to do is make sure that it’s an armadillo they’re going after before I can tell them to stop. Last night, at just about midnight, Lilith growled at something outside and Lucas stood up on the bed. I started to get up when Lilith headed towards the back door and Lucas leapt down. They collided. Bert and Sam were so much better at this sort of thing than the L Hounds are, really. But honestly, it sounded a lot like someone who weighs four hundred pounds just fell out of bed. If you’re trying to break into a place and you hear demonic barking and then a really loud thud… in how many ways will this be a good thing for you?
By the time I realize there isn’t a person out there it is over in a big way. The armadillo is dead. I chase the dogs back inside, get a shovel, and toss what remains over the fence near the back of the property.
So, here’s the thing; why are they here? For thirteen years there have been dozens of ‘dillos killed here in a fashion that least resembles the way that I want to die. I know these critters aren’t the genius of their genus, oh damn, wait they are, in fact. Hmm, this explains why there aren’t any others. Nevermind. But anyway, it’s pretty clear to everyone else in the woods that dogs live here. Not the small yappy kind of lap dogs but dogs that have a serious attitude problem with trespassing with the ways and means to enforce certain local canine ordinances involving loitering. Why the hell would anything that is just slightly faster than terrified toad tempt fate in this manner? Does not the empty shells and broken bodies of their breathen mean death to the rest of them or do they think they’ll eventually wear the dogs down?
So at three in the morning another one shows up.
Wanna go through it again with me? One more time, chapter and verse, with feeling.
This one makes it under the shed where I can neither help nor hinder him. I can herd the dogs back inside but Lilith will not be denied. An hour later I release the hounds and they catch the poor beast in the open. In the meantime, I’ve gotten about two hours’ worth of sleep.
So tonight I’m turning on the AC and I’m closing the doors and windows. No one goes or goes until I decide to get up. There’s a dozen vultures hanging around outside the fence trying to get to the graveyard but the mutts are standing vigil. It’s time for them to come inside and be domesticated beings for a while, I think.
I did not come out here to declare war on nature. I think I have done a good job at this but my chosen companions are not the type of creatures whose own natures will be totally stilled. Inside of them, as there is inside of me, lurks the wildness that I came here to discover.
I live in peace as much as I can, and in their own way, so do the mutts.