Both dogs are excellent team players but, surprisingly, Molly is clearly the leader. She is energetic, actually very high strung, and ready to go in a flash. Any sound gets her attention instantly, whether it be from the garage near the house or the barn some forty yards away. As for Kaz, this young fellow is much more laid back until he finally sees what is causing the action. Then his energy spurts and he's ready for the chase.
Since I was now wide awake, I let them out the kitchen door and they were off quickly, headed for the barn. Normally they are very loud but this night they were eerily quiet. I went to my computer and figured I would surf for a few minutes, then if they hadn't returned I would check things out.
All of a sudden I heard their commotion uptick, so I slipped on my boots and headed for the barn. Shining my flashlight in that direction, the two dogs were circling the barn one way, then headed back. And Kaz kept looking upwards, craning his neck as if the culprit was on the roof. He just kept peering upwards but I could find nothing when I followed his gaze.
I walked in the barn and shined the flashlight around. The cat food bowl had been knocked off its perch and the trash can was turned over but nothing else was noticed. I always leave a little cat food out so that the barn cats can get a snack and, besides, it is better to leave something than to have a varmint tear the place apart looking for a free meal.
As I walked over toward the tack room I heard a big hiss. Looking up and behind me in the eaves of the barn, there was one of the largest raccoons I have ever seen. He wasn't menacing, but he (or she) was just giving me a warning that he was there. There is no way the dogs could reach him but they just kept barking and circling, then Kaz would even rear up against the wall fully stretched to see if he could get to him. Alas, he was about three feet too short at best.
Suddenly, I noticed some movement in a notch in one of the support beams where it has a "Y" support. There, huddled together, were two baby raccoons, their dark eyes looking at me in fear while remaining motionless. So that's why this big raccoon, now decidedly a mama, was staying close. While she normally would have gone up on the roof and jumped over to a nearby cottonwood and from there over the fence, she was staying for her babies.
Realizing finally why she hissed so loud, I grabbed Kaz and called Molly and took them back to the house and put them inside. Then I walked back to the barn to watch. From the doorway of the barn nearest the entry drive there was enough light from the security lamp to allow me to get a glimpse of them without frightening them. I just kept my flashlight beam shining down on the ground to allow the shadows also to be visible. This big mama realized now that I wasn't a threat, so she climbed over to the post where the little ones were hanging on, "talked" to them, and then they followed her up to the high central beam. From their they found their way to the opening in the end wall below the top of the A-pitched roof, climbed up on the roof and made their way onto a branch hanging down from the cottonwood. l then watched them climb down the tree and, following a quick check for any danger, they scampered through the fence and into the thick pine woods to live another day.
As sure as the sun comes up they will be back and that mama 'coon will continue to teach those little ones how to avoid danger. It was a simple event, one that repeats itself routinely out here in rural Florida, but it's something I never get tired of watching. For despite all of our human advances and so-called intelligence, I still marvel about how animals in the wild are taught and master the art of survival. They don't need foodstamps, welfare or big brother to watch over them. They figure it out on their own.
And there is something else that such an interesting event points out to me. That is the glory that is our Lord. For he has created everything on earth with a plan and purpose in mind. And while sometimes we see some of these animals as a nuisance, they add variety and color to our life and they also can teach us a thing or two about life itself. Studying them helps me realize just how masterful our God is. Praise God for the splendor of the world around us. Appreciate it, use it properly and learn from it. It's what he expects.
Have a wonderful weekend. Take a break and forget politics as much as you can for a few days and enjoy your family and friends in the glory that is our beautiful land.
If you enjoy animals and nature, you might check out my book, Honey, We Shoulda' Bought the Ark, available through my author site from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and in E-book format: www.outskirtspress.com/honeyweshouldaboughttheark.