I think somebody has something against me sleeping through the night.
Last night I was awoken at 1:30 am by a number of the dogs in the yard giving sharp warning barks. As I mentioned in diary entries before, the dogs have very different barks and noises that usually let me know before my feet hit the floor what kind of situation I'm heading towards.
Last night I was pretty certain it was the 'wild animal in the yard' bark, but when I got onto the deck, I was confused. Rather then being able to quickly pinpoint where the intruder was by what dogs were the most excited and where they were looking, different dogs in different areas where all barking and no one was staring in any particular direction. Odd.
I quickly surveyed the area around me to make sure I wasn't about to walk into whatever it was near the house (I almost walked into a cow moose once in Alaska because I was still mostly asleep and not paying attention). All was clear. I flipped on the big kennel lights, but that didn't help solve the mystery.
As I stood out in the yard the barking kind of died down and I heard a weird noise from a bit beyond the kennel. The dogs all instantly fired up again. I 'ssshhh'd' them and heard the noise again. Now, I know coyote noises - it wasn't that. I know mating calls of moose, elk and deer - but it wasn't that - and besides it is the wrong time of year for a ungulate with romance on it's tiny brain. What it sounded like was a young bear bawling for it's Mom. And whatever it was, it wasn't detracted by all the big lights and barking dogs, it was moving closer. Great.
The dogs were getting more agitated and were now pinpointing a location - in the woods behind Q and Kluane.
Now normally about this time, I would usually go and wake up Mark. Scaring scary woodland critters back into the woods is definitely a 'Mark job' - along with wrestling dead critters away from the dogs and killing spiders. However Mark was working nights, so I was on my own. I phoned him looking for suggestions, but of course, he wasn't near the phone.
By now whatever it was was close enough that a few dogs had spotted it - with my measly human eyeballs I couldn't locate it though. Big fearless Charge was barking and then jumping backwards. Many of the dogs were more nervous then excited, which is not normally the case when wildlife is around. I had no doubt we were dealing with a bear and for whatever reason, it wasn't acting 'normal'. Super.
In all the years we've lived in the country with dogs we've never had a bear come into the yard. Moose, deer,cows, horses, coyotes, muskrats, ducks,squirrels, crazy birds, stupid mice, even stupider frogs....but that is about it.
I tried calling Mark again and managed to catch him this time. Obviously, his distance from the situation allowed him to think clearer then I and he said "Why don't you let your big guard dog take care of it?". Ah yes, CRICKET!! Fly had much earlier sized up the situation and decided to play the 'retirement' card. He had been sticking right close to my heels the whole time. He claimed he was watching my back. Yeah, right.
Cricket spends nights in her pen, as she still has a tendency to roam, so I headed over to let her out. As she was bouncing around and celebrating her freedom (it had been a whole 4 hours that she had been penned up) the yard began to settle down a bit. It looked like Cricket's reputation might have proceeded her. With the yard settling a bit and Cricket on the job, I headed back inside, but sat up and watched a bit of TV just to make sure things were really over with. I figured when Charge went back to bed I would. It took an hour before the Siberian's barking episodes stopped and Cricket quit running along the edges of the dog yard issuing challenges. Charge settled down and finally curled up to sleep. I followed suit.
This morning Cricket was laying at the edge of the yard surveying the woods and her 'flock of Siberians' when I got up. I went out to give her a scratch on the head for her good work last night. My big fearless guard dog flopped onto her back and requested a belly rub. I happy obliged her. I think maybe she is growing up and stepping into her roll in the yard. Maybe I'll get a good night sleep now!!