Critters with attitude




Last Wednesday night was like any winter evening: dark. blustery. frigid.

Most unpleasant.

Martin and I were outside —  wind-battered and miserable — in a stand-off with the horses.

We tried to coax them in the barn for dinner — the horses knew we wanted them in for dinner — but they stood statue-still, clustered in the shadows. A gateway of mud separated us from them.

“Come-on in, guys…. come-on, boys….” I called in a sing-song voice, rattling grain in a bucket. “Dinnnnner,” I sang out. “Comeon ponies, comeon in…. HEY!! We see you, losers! Get your butts in here, before I beat the lot of you! Comeon guys…”

Neither kind words, nor threats, prompted movement.

“This sucks,” Martin muttered into the wind.

The horses were being stinkers. But the fox wasn’t helping matters.

He (let’s assume it’s a “he”) has been a frequent visitor. On this evening, Maisie chased the fox away, but he retreated just beyond our floodlights. And voiced his displeasure with a jarring call — “Ow…ow…wow!”

He sounded like a demented dog crossed with an owl. Eerily close.

Of course, we’ve heard foxes before. But this creature — he spoke to us.

And he was pissed.

Martin and I slogged through the mud and dragged the horses in. Then, surfing the web, I uncovered this website about foxes. Among other things, the site provided sound bites of calls. I can’t verify the site’s authenticity but I’m confident: our fox delivered a “territorial response” and a “sound of warning.”

I got the message: this means you.

Since last week, we’ve spied our brazen fox everywhere … even on the porch. So I decided that he deserves a name.

Of course, in my dictatorship style, I decided on the name.

“How about ‘Loki‘?” Martin suggested.

“That’s a terrible name,” I said. “We’re not naming him Loki. We’re calling him, ‘Randolph.'”

“Why ‘Randolph?'”

“Because I said so.”

Actually, I allowed the minions to weigh in. “Loki or Randolph,” I asked Hadley, casting a stern gaze with the second choice.

“Randolph,” she said, glancing sympathetically at Martin. “Sorry, Dad, but I think Randolph is better. You know… because he’s a fox and he ranned off…”