As I related here a couple of months ago, last summer a neighbor who lives a mile away came across a mountain lion batting around a woodchuck it had caught in her yard. There is a trout stream and some woods between her house and mine, and the tracks of an enormous cat have recently been photographed in the mud beside the stream. Fresh, clean water; woodchucks and rabbits galore; and woods for shade and shelter--for hungry mountain lions trekking to New England from the arid West, this is the promised land.
An invisible fence encircles our back yard and part of the woods. It keeps the dogs in, but anything not wearing the right kind of collar can wander in at will. A woman in a neighboring village found this out when she let her four Cavalier King Charles Spaniels out into her invisibly-fenced yard one night. Three of them came streaking back. The fourth eventually returned, covered in blood. From the placement of the wounds, the vet guessed a coyote had tried to eat it.
Every night when I let the dogs out into the dark, I think, how much bigger than a woodchuck is Bisou?
I was comforted this morning to hear that in California a German Shepherd had scared a mountain lion up a tree. According to NPR, mountain lions are preyed on by wolves, and they seem to fear dogs that look like wolves. So I am pinning my hopes on Wolfie, who really looks the part. I know I can rely on him to scare anything away, chipmunk, fisher or bear, that hasn't been invited in. But I'm not so sure about Bisou, who is right at his heels on his night patrols and who, if she encountered a mountain lion, might just think, in her scent-driven spaniel way, that he smelled awfully interesting, and should be investigated.