It’s late night on an early October evening here in Ohio, the kind of evening that reminds one that winter is not far off, and that brisk night wind blowing through the orange and russet leaves will soon be howling round the windows of our snug little farmhouse, seeking it’s chill way in through every crack and cranny.
I take my good dog Agatha out for her evening constitutional, and as the wind blows scudding clouds past a weak quarter moon, not far off, down by the bottom pasture I hear it, an almost unearthly thin wavering cry and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. Instantly in my mind’s eye I see the wistful little face of Tessie, now long gone and past any rescuing hand.
I clutch Agatha’s lead more tightly and cast a wary eye out through the darkness, gauging the closeness of the threats that occupy even the most residential and staid of our neighborhoods. The unseen dangers that stalk through our backyards long after we’ve gone to our beds every evening
I hope Kathleen doesn’t see this post, if she does, though it will bring her pain to remember this sad episode, I hope she’ll forgive me the telling of Tessie’s story if it saves even one other much loved little dog’s life.
Kathleen had been a friend for years, she’s from London and quite a dog lover as so many of the British are. Her dogs, all Cavachons, Harley Tessie & Lola, were much adored and enjoyed a happy life with her husband and three children in a Columbus subdivision. When she rang me one late fall day, a day much like this one I was totally unprepared for the story that her shaking voice unfolded.
She had put the dogs out in the back garden as she called it, late the evening before. She stood watching as they trotted about for one last sniff round before bed. They were all moderately small, but not fragile or toy sized, and she wasn’t particularly cautious, just waiting to wipe paws when they were ready to troop back in for bed.
She turned away for just a few moments to answer a sleepy child’s bedtime request, and when she returned to the door expecting to find her three little dogs impatiently waiting to be granted access to their beds for the night, instead to her dismay, only two frightened shaking dogs stood huddled close, scratching frantically for entrance.
Hurriedly she opened the door and Lola and Harley rushed in, both trembling and obviously badly frightened. Stunned, Katherine raced out into the dark yard, shouting Tessie’s name, sweet Tessie whom she’d described to me just weeks before as her special darling.
“Terry, I love my dogs all of them so much, but Tessie, there is just something about her that is so special. She’s just the dearest dearest little thing, I love her so much I can’t believe I could love a dog like this”
Heartsick, she ran looking, calling for Tessie, the smallest, the gentlest of her little group. The family roused, found flashlights, close neighbors called, urgently searching every part of the area. Repeatedly they scanned the back part of the lawn that reached down a small ravine to a park, their calls echoing on the empty air.
The hours of searching turned into days and after learning to their horror and dismay that two dogs had been attacked and killed by coyotes the week before, a now frantic Katherine hired a professional wildlife tracker who grimly voiced the opinion that she was unlikely to ever see her beloved dog again. Sadly, he was correct and no trace of small Tessie was ever found.
And so I write this grim missive, on this frosty evening, as I listen for the predators that seek the small ones. The little ones that are unable to defend themselves against the dangers that can rob the unsuspecting of their much loved pets.
These animals are increasingly bold and opportunistic predators, though I love all animals, I love my dogs more and want those that belong my clients to be protected. Be especially cautious at night if your property borders a park or undeveloped area, remember the story of poor Tessie and keep your little ones safe.