The dog start pestering me at about 0415 – mildly at first, but when he wakes me up it’s usually a sign that he has to go to the bathroom in a desperate way. After another round of pestering me, I decided to go ahead and take him out. On the way downstairs, he grabbed a toy and threw it around – unusual behavior if he has to go to the bathroom, but since I was already up and dressed now, I dismissed it and harnessed him up.
As soon as we were out the front door and off towards the drive, I heard what had his attention – there was a the unmistakable sound of a fox barking – and close by! I was already headed in that direction, but the dog was practically dragging me (he’s a 100+ pound Akita, and he usually gets to decide the direction we go based on his muscles and general level of enthusiasm). It was a short walk to the field, and sure enough, there was a fox running around and barking. I remembered I still had on the headlamp I used to get dressed in the dark, and I switched it back on. There he was – a big red fox, eyes glowing green in the dark, running, jumping, and barking his head off.
They don’t barking constantly for nothing, so we scanned the field and found at least three other sets of glowing green eyes. I couldn’t tell what animal they were, but the dog was going nuts (he has an extremely high prey drive, and anything from feral cats to bull elk meet his definition of “prey”). The last time I heard a fox bark like this, he was fending off a much bigger coyote. I have a special place in my heart for foxes, and didn’t want any harm to come to this one if he was being harassed by coyotes, so the dog and I moved forward a bit.
The fox didn’t move, but the set of eyes to the left bolted – a big feral cat. The other two sets of eyes ran the other direction and under a street light – coyotes. The population of feral cats has reduced dramatically with foxes and coyotes in my neighborhood. I suspect the fox was after the cat when the coyotes showed up.
I ran home with the dog, grabbed the camera bag, flash, and flash extender and drove back so I could try to illuminate the field with the car headlights, but by that time, all the players were gone. Still, if I’m gonna get up at 0415, at least it was for a good reason.