Sprocket is barking and excited and ready to chase. Zeek is a live wire. Agitated doesn't begin to describe it. He is a frenzy of barking, squealing, vibrating and squirming and I can barely hold onto him. We try to bury the dogs in our sleeping bags, away from sounds and smells, holding onto their collars and hugging them tight. And try to go back to sleep.
The dogs do not relent in their urgency to let us know that there is something right there, and all we have to do is let them go and they will chase it off or kill it. We are not about to let them go. And we are not going to get any sleep. Not like this.
We throw the dogs into the back of the truck into their kennels under the topper shell. After a few minutes their excitement fades and calm returns. We sleep. For a very short time. Before Sprocket gets desperately lonely and begins to whine and squeak pathetically, and to scratch frantically and desperately at the floor of his kennel. We lie awake listening to him and to the coyotes.
Eventually Trina gets the idea to use his shock collar. She drags herself out of the tent and puts the collar on him. We lay in the tent. Whenever he starts to squeak, she hits the buttons: tone and zap. He stops whining. It's working. The quiet time between squeaks gets longer and longer. But Trina has to stay awake to press the buttons.
* * *
Another bright, cloudless morning. We're on a wide flat plain bristling with mesquite trees, prickly pear and cholla cactus. The sun warms us quickly as we pack up and move from our found-in-the-dark-near-the-road spot to a place a bit further down a side road away from the main dirt road. Trina makes her coffee and we cook breakfast. The dogs range around sniffing, then loll in the sun. Trina rolls out a pad and lays down for a nap. I'm in a chair writing about not getting much sleep the night before.
|From AZ Travel|
This calm does not last long.
Both small dogs sit bolt upright, bark small sharp barks, and dash off. I stand and look to where they're heading. Moving steadily among the twisted trunks of the trees is a dark, streamlined shape that can only be a javelina. I've never seen one before and what I do is say something like "Cool! Javelina!" What I should be doing is whistling for the dogs and pushing buttons on the shock collar zapper I have on a cord around my neck.
Trina is groggily getting to her feet. The javelina makes an abrupt turnabout and begins running away, dogs chasing fast and perhaps closing the gap. She says something like "Zap!" and I look away from the chase and try to find the right button to press, but I've never actually used this thing before. She snatches it away and we're whistling and I guess she's pressing buttons. The dogs and javelina are out of sight by now, so we don't know what's happening.
She's quickly throwing a few things into the truck and locking it, and I'm changing out of my inappropriate-for-running-through-cactus sandals and then we're running through the prickly forest in the direction the chase was headed.
We run in the direction of barking, yelping, screeching that could be our dogs -- "I wasn't pressing the shock buttons that time!" she says -- and then silence. We keep running and cross a wash where there are tracks that are probably javelina.
Just then, Zeek runs back to us, shaking his head fiercely, like he does when he's been zapped by his collar. More whistles, and soon Sprocket re-joins us, giddy and happy as usual. "That was fun!" his body language says. Yeah, fun, we think, as we grimly head back to the truck. "Aren't javelina supposed to be nocturnal?"
At the truck, we leash the dogs and start the discussion about what must have happened out there and how to prevent it in the future. Zeek is in a bit of a dark mood. I attribute it to his sense of failure. PR terriers are bred for hunting things larger than themselves, and he has just returned without the prize. But when I coerce him onto my lap, I notice his mouth is bloody from tooth marks. Then we find a deep puncture on the underside of his throat. He doesn't want to move his mouth. Ah, crap.
We drive into the northern fringes of Tucson and find a veterinary clinic that has time to check him out. They clean his wounds, prescribe antibiotics and pain pills. No major hidden damage. We hope the javelina, without any of these treatments, is okay. We have more discussion about how to keep our little hunter's instincts in check so he won't harass wildlife. And so he won't get his throat torn out.
|From AZ Travel|