One of the best ways I can come up with to describe this morning is Postcard Perfect, photographs of a morning as today’s make beautiful screensavers. I sat in the middle of it drinking my coffee while taking it all in. Over the weekend, I’m writing this on Monday morning, a lady lost her two small dogs in the pasture across the river. As the story goes, she went over the old bridge then pulled over, upon opening the door her dogs jumped out and disappeared. I saw the alert posted on the Island Facebook page while I was on the riverside deck. Normally I sit there depending upon the weather and temperature the length of time I spend out there is variable. I took the lost dogs up as a way I could help someone as I have a panoramic view of nearly the entire Island. I always have my binoculars ready to use I began to look for them. In doing so the size of the search area dawned on me, I knew there was a lot of areas but I did not realize how much until Saturday afternoon. I had been trying to estimate how big it is on average, that is a real challenge due to the irregular shape of the Island. I decided the best way to describe it in miles, it’s 3 miles East-West, and approximately 2 miles North-South, six square miles. (4.82-3.21 kilometers.) 3500+ acres. I looked for 2 hours on Saturday and around 4 on Sunday with no luck, I was looking for animals that are very small from 2 or so miles away. Complicating things is the fact it is a pasture with 200 steers grazing on it and they were all laying down. Three or four drop calves being watched by the mothers look much smaller from a distance than close up. Needless to say, I did not see them. Sunday afternoon another post announced they had been found, directly across the Island from me, right where I had been scanning with my binoculars.
Once a month or so a dog is lost, these were the first missing across the river, a dangerous place for small animals. Coyotes, Bobcats, and Fox to name a few land-bound predators. Large birds are also on the prowl, Hawks of numerous species, Harriers, and the Great Horned Owls, of those the Red Tailed Hawk, is the largest threat. I saw the large female Red Tail dive towards an adult Rabbit missing the target it slammed into an old fence, not to be stymied she shook herself off and continued hunting. I believe she is the apex predator in my immediate area, two miles is a short distance for her to fly. That is my main concern with these small animals when they get lost if they are not found within 3 days hope fades quickly.
I am sometimes too quick to blame the Hawk for disappearing animals as she is always present perching in a tree or on the levee top. I’ve written about it previously as to her harvesting of the 30 cats that were abandoned after three of my neighbors’ houses burned down. One of the homes had all of those cats, some full grown and a great number of kittens. Two ladies were trapping them in trip cages, having them neutered then finding them homes, they were able to save a few but not all. Between 1 and 2 in the afternoon the female Hawk would fly in on the Easterly wind towards the burned out hulk. Circling it three or four times then diving straight down to re-appear moments later with it’s intended target. Slowly the cats were no more, now I have seen just one big black Cat stalking about, it must be a Tom and very smart.
Prior to the houses burning down the same house had a Chihuahua. Suddenly one day there were three, then six the population gained until there were 15 in all. Rural areas are magnets for people to “drop” their unwanted pets, I’m not sure if that’s what happened or if they merely found one another and formed a pack. They ruled the road for a month, their numbers like the cats began to decline, I blame the same predator for some of them, Coyotes most likely had a hand in it as well. I don’t have tolerance for people that are so heartless to drop any pet off in a wild spot thinking they will survive, they don’t.
I’m happy the small dogs were found in time, the owner was frantic as I would be. A big dog would be in danger there as well, my Skunkpuppy may be OK at 50 pounds, her advantage is her fear. That’s an important aspect for a lost animal, some have no fear and don’t know when to run and when to fight. A much larger dog, a German Shepherd, for example, would most likely be fine, an advantage for them is they are larger than a Coyote and Foxes won’t mess with them. I’m sure there will be more lost dogs through no fault of the owners, sometimes these things just happen as it did in this case.
Thank you for reading and sharing my blog, let’s all keep an eye on our cherished animal companions, as much as I complain about Skunkpuppy she is an asset in my life. I am almost totally deaf and her biggest assistance is when she barks alarming me something is amiss, I don’t know what I would do without her. Thanks again!
Jacque Lebec Natural Self-Reliance