Life in England is dog heaven, but it can also be the opposite for dog owners. Our dogs are making us a little crazy lately with their escape antics and adventures into the neighbor’s yards. Here’s how it usually goes. We are all relaxing peacefully in the family room when suddenly one of the dogs is just sure they saw something incredible in the backyard. The wild barking and jumping begins and they are desperate to go outside. One of us has to drag ourselves up to open the door as they sprint by at the speed of lightning. Sometimes they return a minute or two later and desperately need to get back into the house which requires one of us to again extract ourselves from our seat to open the door.
Once the sun goes down, everything changes. If the dogs go outside, they may never return. We have to supervise them and not leave them out for too long. What happens at night is… the foxes come out. Yes, we had raccoons in the Sierra Mountains and jack rabbits in Wilton, but England has many, many foxes. As soon as dusk hits, we start to see foxes wandering down streets, in and out of bushes and occasionally across our backyard. They likely cross our yard every night but we don’t always see them. The dogs, of course, do.
Lance has diligently added additional fencing, chicken wire, stakes, random pieces of wood – whatever it takes – to try to block their entry, but as with most of nature, we always lose. Somehow they can create perfectly round openings through any form of wire fencing. And since Boomer is the same size as a fox, he can easily squeeze through the opening and be on his way into the neighbor’s yard to continue his fox hunt. Problem is he can’t seem to squeeze through that same hole when it is time to come home. It appears that the foxes have built a home for themselves under the little playhouse in the back corner of our yard. A few weeks ago, Boomer emerged from beneath the playhouse the proud owner of a dead squirrel. Yes, that was so fun!
The other advantage the dogs have is the fabulously soft soil here in England. It is a gardeners delight and I suppose due to all the rainfall. Well, when Dakota – who has four backhoes for feet – gets digging, she can clear a hole big enough for you and me to crawl under any fence. So when my two wild ones return from their nighttime adventures they are as happy as can be, jumping all over everyone and covered with mud from head to toe. In addition to the backhoes, Dakotas paws are also giant sponges soaking up every bit of mud and water they touch. I really hope our landlords are not too attached to this carpet!
The other night we drove down our street to see a new creature crossing the road. We expected to see the fox but instead saw a badger. This is not good news. Badgers can be very mean and dangerous. They will not hesitate to fight when they encounter a happy-go-lucky mud covered dog who thinks it would be great to play chase.
It looks like we will need to continue supervised visits in the backyard after dark for quite some time.