Monday, May 1, 2017

The Diminished Tyger Linn

Back in January, Lilith Anne and Tyger Linn followed the Cousin Dogs when they dug under the fence and made good their escape. My biggest fear, other than human being found find them and do terrible things with them, is that the Coyotes would find them and a fight would ensue.  Lilith packs a hefty sixty-five pound worth of Pitbull inside her skin but Tyger is only pushing about fifty. Still, if you are a Coyote, or six, the idea of getting into a serious brawl with Lilith alone might give you pause. Yet after three days of being in the woods with no food and very little water, their chances of surviving were dimming. On the afternoon of the fourth day I found them waiting for me at home and the ordeal was over.

Tyger Linn has always been a brawler. Quick towards anger and quick to fight, all arguments are fights and all fights are to the death, that was the trademark of the Stri-ped One. Tyger went after small game with a fury. Venomous snakes tagged Tyger four times in two years and it didn’t slow her down. Even squirrels were dragged down. Tyger Linn would stand on the deck in the middle of a storm and shout obscenities at lighting and thunder, daring the Sky Gods to come down and do battle with her. Tyger Linn was the first dog to go out into the night when there was a noise or the Coyotes were yammering. No one stayed out longer at night than Tyger Linn. First out, last in, and many times I had to call her.

That ended in the woods.

The extended vacation away from home, away from the sofa and the bed, away from food and water, and more importantly, away from the fence that separated Tyger Linn from the real world did something to my little brindle girl. The last storm we had she lay on the bed and didn’t so much as raise her head to growl. Last night Lilith and the Cousins went out to bark at something and Tyger stayed put. Once fearless in the dark, something in the woods got inside of Tyger’s mind and she no longer yearns to patrol in the wee hours of the morning. Once the bad ass Pitbull of Hickory Head, Tyger Linn is now a domesticated dog who wants nothing more than to lie undisturbed on the sofa and sleep.

I’ll never know for sure what happened out there, but I think at some point there was some sort of confrontation between Lilith Anne, Tyger Linn, and the Coyotes. I don’t think there was a actual fight but I do think my girls and the wild canines had a growling and teeth showing, and I’m pretty sure that Lilith made have been scared of the Coyotes, but her self-assurance has always been the quiet kind, and she has never started a fight. Tyger Linn, finally faced with the idea that she might get the sort of epic battle she had been screaming about for the last two years, found that the woods was more than happy to supply all the conflict that she ever wanted. And then some more. A lot more, in point of fact. The woods is full of it. All day. All night. The woods never sleeps.

Lilith has never shown the slightest respect for Tyger’s show and in the past Lilith has totally ignored any teeth showing or growling Tyger did for any reason. I’m pretty sure the two of them have clashed but I’m equally certain it’s never been a real fight or Tyger would have been marked for it. I think whatever happened in the woods required Tyger to stay close to Lilith in order to survive. Suddenly, and for much longer than she would like to admit, Tyger needed someone else to survive.

Lilith was unchanged by the ordeal. She’s as steady as the day is long and there isn’t any drama in this dog at all. She came home dirty, stinking, covered with ticks, tired, starved, thirsty, but so did Tyger Linn. The difference is Lilith didn’t seem to take any damage from it.

Both of my Pitbull girls lived hard lives before they arrived at my home. Lilith was an owner surrender who wound up with a Rescue Group in Valdosta. Tyger Linn was a street dog who was picked up by animal control. I think part of Tyger’s street life led her to think she had to fight everyone for everything and she never saw herself as part of a family. Now, as the smallest dog in the house with three others, and suddenly keenly aware that as dangerous as traffic might be in town, the woods isn’t always full of prey animals and there is no food or water to be had, and there are no beds. Tyger Linn’s very life depended on Lilith Anne’s mass and her quiet way of surviving without conflict.

I’ve been saying that Tyger Linn came out of the woods “diminished” and maybe that’s not the word I’m looking for, really. Maybe with the fear and the terror she found there Tyger Linn also discovered that she has a family. Maybe she discovered that she cannot fight the world alone and maybe she discovered she doesn’t have to anymore. Tyger Linn Firesmith went into the woods as a little girl who fought hard and fought often, but always within the confines of the fence that keeps her inside and keeps other things out. The duality of the fence occurred to Tyger out there in the wild, of that I am sure.

I watch Tyger Linn now when we go out into the woods that are my back acre of land, and now she stops to see where Lilith is. Maybe, I think now, it’s not so much as fear that grips her, yeah, maybe a little, still, but now I think it’s the idea she can trust.

Lilith is pretty awesome, you know.

Take Care,



  1. I enjoy your writing, and appreciate your dedication to the animals you shelter. This is an excellent essay on the difference between "wild" and "domesticated" animals and adaption.

    1. Fred, thank you for you kind words. I tell people the second civilization ends dying begins. This goes for us, dogs, and everything else we've tamed. We like to think if we have a gun and camo hat on we're hunters but we are not. We're entirely dependent on civilization. Knowing that fact will keep you alive.