“What’s all the barking about!”

The dog keeps barking. You get up to see what’s going on. You could be at your computer typing something like this. You could be in bed. Could be day or night. The dog barks a lot.

Amazon delivery? Since the pandemic these have become common. Maybe a neighbor’s walking by? Or an animal? There’s a forest preserve nearby. A two-fisted birdwatcher likes that.

But your dog’s not going to bark at a Junco. He was quiet when a Red-shouldered Hawk sat on your backyard swing, a sight that made you feel like barking.

Back to the moment. Mystery solved. Two deer are out front. Meat on the hoof, according to wolf DNA programmed into your ten-pound poodle. You clip a leash on him—time for a bathroom break anyway—and you move outside.

The deer are winter-hungry and want to stay where foliage pokes through the snow. You stare at each other. The dog barks and pulls. They prance off, toward the neighboring forest preserve you appreciate every freakin’ day. You recall another recent visitor…

You were starting your sunrise dogwalk, leash in hand (good thing) when your dog bolted. He pulled so hard his front legs rose and he stood vertical, straining forward. At the bottom of your driveway going eye-to-eye with him was a giant coyote. We’ve seen coyotes here but never one this big. He’s staring back with interest, not running off as usually happens.

Our poodle seemingly wants to attack. You realize that if you accidentally lose your grip on the leash, hell could happen fast. The coyote holds your eye for a moment then trots off, ignoring you and the little white curiosity that would have made a quick breakfast.

What a great sighting. Not a deer. Not an Amazon guy. And it hits you. All those times when you don’t look outside to see what causes the barking. It’s wildlife you never see. Deer of course. But coyotes, too. That monster and others. The neighborhood has lots of them. Until the 1980s these prairie wolves were relegated to cowboy movies, not cities and burbs. But they’re here now.

Probably the reason for much of the barking. That’s okay. You don’t mind. Whether caused by an Amazon delivery, or something wilder, it’s just the ordinary sound of an ordinary day, and you smile at your ten-pound dog who thinks he’s a badass.

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