animals at the door 0820

This is not new ground, but here it is again: Marrakesh does not know what he wants out of life. In a true accounting of this morning, which could be any morning, here is Marrakesh in action: he went into the garage. He came back into the house. He went out the back door. He came in the back door. He went into and out of the garage. He went out the front door. He came in the back door. Here he is once more, heading out the back.

In a perfect Marrakesh world, he would spend his life on the threshold, not really in and not really out, in command of everything. This comes in handy when I am working in the garage with the bay door open, because he can guard against unlawful entry by lesser fauna such as chipmunks or squirrels. But with household doors, it often seems to create more problems than it solves — and by problems, I mean Oz.

If we can recall (I’m sure it’s more vivid to me than you), Oz went out one of these open doors one morning to confront a non-nocturnal, fully-loaded skunk. He also got brought back recently by a neighbor who found him taking himself walkabout down a road much busier these days owing to construction traffic.

And now there’s the fox.

I’m wondering about my selection of article, because with eight baby foxes in the neighborhood earlier this year, there are bound to be multiple creatures in the area. So at any given instance, it’s probably A fox, one of several, but Lynn and I persist in referring to THE fox.

I don’t know much about foxes, and I’m trying to pay attention to things like how much black is in a tail to see if I can definitively recognize any one fox as it crosses our path. At least one of them likes to use our backyard for hunting. Or maybe ours is the feeding ground of choice for many foxes, and we only see them one at a time. At any rate, there is considerable vulpine activity out our back windows.

I have stopped stressing so much about Marrakesh and THE fox. Giving lie to “the,” sometimes “the” fox seems smaller than Marrakesh’s 20-plus pounds. And for all his boldness, Kesh is a pretty cautious fellow who seems to know when to hold them and when to fold them.

Na Ki’o, who rarely goes outside, concerns me a little more, because he often doesn’t seem to have much in the way of cat skills, and he also only has a dew claw up front, although he can hold his own when tussling with Marrakesh.

And Oz — well, Oz’s new favorite thing to do, since moving to the country, is to chase foxes. I don’t know what he’d do if he caught one, but I’ve decided, as of yesterday, that this is not something I really need to worry about.

But before yesterday, a few days back, we had ourselves a regular rodeo. Both cats were outside, Kesh on the deck and Ki’o just off it, with the back door open slightly to accommodate their comings and goings so that I can feel a trifle less like Carleton the Doorman (heard but never seen on the TV show Rhoda).

Then Oz caught sight, through the patio door in Lynn’s room, of the fox. Not that it was hard to catch sight, because the fox was quite close to the deck, unfazed by our proximity or perhaps honing in on a fat cat snack. Oz, his way through the patio blocked, bolted for the back door.

Where I stopped him, but then I had to try to herd cats in through that same door, past a barking dog (whom Marrakesh barely trusts in the best of times) while keeping said barking dog from becoming a lunging-out-the-door dog. Had I known then what I learned yesterday, I might have just let him go.

Yesterday, while I was doing something else, I heard Lynn (on her enforced seven-day “separation” from the Post Office every August that somehow prevents her from becoming a career employee eligible for more benefits) hollering for Oz.

By the time I got to a window, Oz was being led on a merry chase at the far end of the vacant lot to the south of us. And that’s exactly what it turned out to be: a merry chase.

This fox, whether “a” or “the,” had no problem at all outrunning an aging, gimpy dog whose vet recently recommended a joint supplement (which I have yet to source). But instead of just going on its merry way, the fox found a better game: taunting the dog.

So the fox stopped and waited until Oz caught a second wind, and then started off on another vector, back this way. But Oz couldn’t keep the chase up, no matter how much he might want (I hear you loud and clear, buddy, believe me), and he slowed to a walk again. So the fox stopped. And then circled into Oz’s line of sight to start and re-start the chase anew, although by now the “sprints” were of exceedingly short duration and mostly reduced to a walk.

I put on some boots and went to rescue Oz, rather than the “poor” fox, who clearly was able to keep this game going for much longer than Oz would have lasted. Oz and I limped slowly home, pausing by the pond for an inspection (report: no fishies, but lots and lots and lots of algae).

Inside, Oz had some water and then a collapse, where he lay in a more or less stupor for half an hour. I lost track of the fox when Oz and I turned toward the pond, but I imagine it went about its morning ablutions just that much more energized, having outfoxed the dog.

We can rest assured that “the” fox will put in return appearances, obviously unworried or perhaps enticed by cats, and now well aware of dog limitations. I am hoping, but doubtful, that this incident might have made the dog aware of his limitations and he will forego this folly. But he probably can’t help himself any more than Marrakesh, who came back in and sat for awhile at the window, but who now once again has gone back out.

It’s what we do around here.

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