Earlier tonight, I let Jackson and Dicey out at the deck door to do their business (Dozer was ensconced on the couch and didn't need to go, thankyouverymuch). After a bit, I went to the front door to wipe eight wet feet and let them in. Only Dicey was there; somewhere in the darkness I heard growling and snarling. In a surge of adrenaline I bellowed for Jackson to come, counting on his reliable recall to get him away from whatever he was tangled with. He came limping up the driveway, but I couldn't find any injuries or blood while thoroughly toweling him off all over. (Later we did find a couple small scratches on a foreleg.)
What made this scary was the phone call I got from our neighbors last night. Laura had gone out on her deck to call the deer in for a snack when she saw a dark form near their trees. She looked through the scope to see a large, tailless raccoon. She tried to startle it unsuccessfully, but when she gave her special call for the deer, it started running in circles. That brought to mind a dead bat they found in their yard five days before, so she felt compelled to call and warn us.
Could Jackson have tangled with a rabid coon? He's current on his rabies vaccination, of course, the sheep aren't, and neither are us humans. Rick loaded his .45, grabbed a flashlight, and went out to investigate. Seeing nothing, he had me follow with Jackson on a leash, hoping he would indicate where the animal had been, but Jackson just got excited at the prospect of a late-night walk. Brian couldn't be left out of the excitement, of course, and came armed with his compound bow and a knife. We saw nothing and went back to the house, but I turned around and headed out again, ostensibly to do chores. Armed with a flashlight and my iPhone, I wanted to look around some more – and spotted a raccoon not far from our entry gate. It was circling a fir tree, starting up, then coming back down, then starting up again. Finally, it headed up with purpose, so I moved in for a closer look. It was the tailless raccoon. I watched for awhile, trying to ascertain if its behavior was in the normal range. Rick went out later and couldn't find it.
Hoping it's moved on from . . .