A dogfight and a dog story.

Birding with friends can be okay. But birding alone, or with your dog, is better. The dog can be quiet, and when you stop to watch something, he watches, too. He’s glad to be on the trail with you.

If you don’t have a dog anymore, you still hike, and maybe you think about him when something interesting happens. Like today…

A camouflaged Cooper’s Hawk dropped out of a tree where it had been hiding like a mountain lion. It tried to snap up a slow-moving Mourning Dove, and almost did. Then another Cooper’s Hawk, more unexpected than the first, flew in from the side to steal the meal.

These hawks are solitary, two-fisted birdwatchers, themselves. But during migration they’ll cross paths. The two engaged in quick aerial combat. Feathers flew. A dogfight. My dog would’ve liked that. Would’ve been good to see it together.

That triggers the memory of another dog who made a pretty good companion. Second best thing about this other dog’s story is that it’s true. What’s the first best thing? We’ll get to that in a moment.

The dog was a Skye Terrier named Bobby, and he lived in Edinburgh, Scotland during the 1870s. He accompanied a night watchman, John Gray, on his rounds. The two became great companions. One day, Gray died. Bobby observed the man’s burial service, then stayed. And stayed.

Through all weather, he didn’t leave the graveyard. Neighborly Scots left scraps of food, and the dog became well-known. As Europeans will do, they built a statue honoring him. But dogs don’t care about statues. They care about you. Something to think about when you’re hiking with your dog.

How long did Bobby stay by John Gray’s grave? That’s the best part. He stayed until his own death, 14 years later.



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