Interloper

Maisie recently swapped her sheep-herding duties for a watch-dog assignment.

Whether she liked it or not.

Raccoons, possums and other wildlife occasionally amble in the barn to peruse the selection of edibles and truthfully, and we don’t make it too hard for them. The cat food dishes are stacked on a couple of hayloft stairs, buffet style. And when the dishes are empty, it’s relatively easy to pry open the cat food canister and plunder the stash.

When evidence of a nocturnal nosher appears, the solution’s simple: weighing down the lids with bricks typically foils dexterous paws, though one creature (likely a raccoon) retaliated by scaling the feed stall door, rummaging through every horse supplement container and thoroughly trashing the place.

All of these sneak attacks occur in the middle night. Until a couple of days ago.

It was over the weekend, just after dark. I was splashing through the lake that was once our driveway, en-route to feed the horses, when a cat darted out of the barn, and nearly ran into me.

At least I thought it was a cat. Except that none of them have such thick, bushy tails. Nor do they more that fast.

But it was the musky scent that clinched it: some cheeky fox has come within a few feet of an up-close and personal meeting with me.

Since I had found the cat food container tipped over that morning, I knew that this guy was a repeat offender. And while it was unlikely that he’d nab one of our cats, I was worried about little Felix. So I assigned Maisie sentry duty, tethering her to the front of the barn…in the rain. She looked baleful when I left there, perched in the muddy flower bed, her ears drooping against the drizzle.

But in the morning all the cats were unaccounted for and their food in tact. Thanks to one filthy-muddy, rain-sodden dog.

Follow up: Maisie was later relieved of her duties and the cat food was securely. But a couple days later, we found the trash cans spilled out in the barn. Sorry Maisie, it’s back to work for you.