The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘foxes’

Crossed

One of Elizabeth’s local blogging friends wrote this about one of our furry neighbours. Foxes are big teases, and they hang out on the Campbell Estate. All Elizabeth ever sees with me around, though, is their footprints in the snow!

wildlifeperspectives

fox-1

On the way home from a fishing trip the other day (one splake), Lil and I spied a cross fox in a field beside the road. The fox was quite cooperative, and let me stop the truck, get my camera out of the bag and take several shots. It looked like it was intent on a mouse, or more likely, a vole, but no luck (although good luck for the vole). Eventually, the fox wandered off.

A cross fox is simply a colour phase of the red fox. Across the range of the red fox different colour phases are often seen, but in this area, the common and classic bright orange red fox is actually quite rare. Most of the foxes here are crosses. They are called cross foxes because they have a blackish cross on their back, across their shoulders.

We also have a fair number of black foxes around…

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Happy New Year!

My Fortress in the Boreal Forest. Elizabeth put the lights on momentarily so you could see it better. I don't need lights.

My Fortress in the Boreal Forest. Elizabeth put the lights on momentarily so you could see it better. I don’t need lights.

Last night I celebrated the passing of the old year by going to bed early with a big cookie in my cozy palace in the snowy Boreal forest. When Elizabeth walked me out she pointed out how nicely she had shovelled my pathway and built a little snow ramp up to the bridge using the freshly fallen snow (more for her convenience than mine, I assure you!). Once into the forest on the other side of the bridge the path is packed with just our paws. The ground is too uneven to make for good shovelling. Maybe, if we ever get enough snow for Elizabeth to put her nifty webbed paw extenders on we can make a better path.

Path Elizabeth packed using her webbed paws. Not enough snow for this yet this year. Too bad. They make travelling through the snow much easier for everyone in the forest. Even the wily wolves like them!

Path Elizabeth packed using her webbed paw extenders. Not enough snow for this yet this year. Too bad. They make travelling through the snow much easier for everyone in the forest. Even the wily wolves like them!

It was -30C with the windchill when I went to bed. When it gets that cold, I like to stay in my house until it’s time to go for my morning walk. My house is well insulated, and I have a full-sized bed that covers half the floor, and my big, fuzzy Queen-sized blanket, which Elizabeth tidies up for me every morning so it’s ready to cuddle up in at night. When the temperature rises into the high teens, I like to pull my blanket outside and sleep under the stars. That also allows me to better keep an ear open for the sneaky deer, the rascally fox and the wily wolves. The flying squirrels make a bit of noise in the trees around me, but they’re pretty harmless. Everybody else is usually asleep.

Last night was a bit different, though. Even through the walls of my palace I could hear strange banging and popping noises interspersed with whistles and fizzles. The sounds were coming from some distance through the frigid air – sounds are always louder, I’ve noticed, when the air is really cold. I don’t like these sorts of noises much. They make me a bit nervous because they aren’t natural sounds. Sometimes I hear them over at the neighbours’ in the summertime, and the first time I did, I also noticed that they were accompanied by explosions of glittering light in the sky. Everyone knows that bright lights in the sky are dangers that no-one can chase away. The best thing to do when you see those is to run into the shelter of your den and wait out the firestorm. So, I stayed put in my house last night.

In the morning, Elizabeth comes out from the two-legger house and I meet her at the gate. In the summer she has managed to catch me off guard; she can walk pretty quietly, and if I’m in my palatial den, I might not hear her coming. I think she gets a wag out of catching me snoozing like that. Well, she would if she had a tail… In the winter, though, I can hear her a mile away because her paws make a great crunching noise on the packed snow of the path.

Sometimes we go for a walk together, but when it’s really cold, Elizabeth doesn’t like to go for a walk. On those days, she lets me attend directly to my patrol of the estate. I get a good run in, checking out all the usual haunts of all the usual intruders. Once I have cleared the area of all the undesirables, I run back home for breakfast at the two-leggers’ house.

Unlike my two-leggers, I just love the snowy cold weather months. There’s nothing better than lying in a snowbank on one of my ‘mountains’ as I watch over my territory. I could stay out on patrol all winter long without ever coming indoors. They only thing I don’t like about winter are the iceballs that form between my toes. They’re such a nuisance! The worst of it is that I must stop to remove them or my feet begin to bleed. So far I’ve been fortunate enough that iceball removal hasn’t coincided with wily wolf arrival. I have bad dreams about that happening….

The arduous process of iceball removal. Dig one out, chew it up, get another one, and so on. Then you need to do the back paws...

The arduous process of iceball removal. Dig one out, chew it up, get another one, and so on. Then you need to do the back paws…

Under House Arrest

It’s that time of year again…

My two-leggers are so afraid of my fearless abandon when it comes to ridding the estate of undesirable intruders that they have placed me under house & bookshop arrest. I’m only allowed out on a leash and just before and after rides.

“But WHY?”

“Because, Stella. The hard water is thin and the Sneaky Deer with trees growing out of their heads are in rut, and it’s just too dangerous to be on our own out there!”

“I can look after myself.”

“Yeah… I know all about how well you look after yourself, Stella.”

“Oh. Well, yes. But I was young and foolish then. And, as I recall, it was you who went through the hard water last winter. Not me.” She did, too.

It was the strangest thing when it happened. She had run across our bay to get a picture, then she thought she’d go for a longer walk with me. As she went around the end of our point, there was a sort of popping noise and Elizabeth fell flat on her face. I came over to see what she’d cried out for, and the hard water began to make a funny cracking noise. Elizabeth yelled at me to get back, and she managed to get her leg out of the splashy stuff and the hole in the hard water. Then she rolled really fast until she was on the trail the noisy machines that travel on the ice make.

I had a good sniff at the hole she made. It wasn’t very big, but it was fascinating. Who knew the water wasn’t hard all the way down? I was able to have a nice drink of cold splashy water. It was refreshing!

We’d had snow flurries all day and the sun was just breaking through the clouds late in the afternoon. Elizabeth took this picture just before she fell through the ice.

Elizabeth looked a bit worried as she looked over our bay toward the house. It wasn’t very far away, but she’d got her whole left leg soaked and had to walk home through unpacked snow and up a steep hill in -27 C and wind.

Two-leggers are different from us dogs. They aren’t as hardy. She was swinging her leg in a funny way by the time we got to the door – all the human fur she’d put on it to go outside in the first place was frozen solid! I tried to help her by biting the ice out as we walked home, but that just got her angry at me. She wanted to get home in a hurry, I guess, and I was slowing her down.

“That’s true. I did fall through. That’s why I worry about you. What if that sly rascal Fox decided to lead you a merry chase —”

“I’d get him!”

“And he ran out onto the ice?”

“I’d get him!”

“Exactly what I’m afraid of.”

“What do you mean?”

“That sly rascal Fox weighs a lot less than you do. He can run over the ice and not fall through, and he knows it. But you have only one thing on your mind: catching that fox. And before you know it, the ice is breaking underneath you because you weigh at least four times more than the fox does!”

“Well, then, I’d climb out!”

Well, I got another couple of stories about a dog she had a long time ago and one about Cocoa the Cheasapeake Bay Retriever. Both Pup and Cocoa went through the ice and couldn’t get out without two-legger help. Elizabeth was able to help them, but she’s afraid she might not be able to help me if I got out too far, or if she didn’t hear me or realise I’d gone through. Pup and Cocoa were both Chessies and made for cold water, and they went through in the Spring and close enough to shore that Elizabeth could reach them with poles or by smashing through the almost candled ice to make a path for them to swim out. Fall ice, she says, is different.

And I’m not as strong a swimmer as the Chessies were. I’m only 1/4 Newfoundland. That’s the swimming part of me. And I don’t have the protective oily coat that sheds water – my wool gets soaked pretty quickly when I swim.

So, for now, I’m an indoors dog. I can still sleep under the stars if I want, and I’ve pulled my blanket out of my house a bit for just that purpose. As long as my wool is dry, I’m warm enough! But the only running and chasing I’ll be doing for the next couple of weeks will be in my dreams.

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