The barking started at 7:30 p.m., loud, sharp and annoying. And it continued, non-stop for a good 30 minutes.
Now, I have a saying about dogs, and that is "the dog is probably a nice enough animal, it's the dog owner that's the problem". Yes, there are some nasty tempered dogs out there, but most of the time it seems the dog is 'misbehaving' as a result of poor training, no training, or some level of neglect from the owner.
And so I glared up the valley slope at the neighbour's house (who was away but had someone else staying in the house). "Why in blazes don't they get that yapping dog inside?" Grrr.
I finally grabbed a flashlight and struck out across the field to see if I could somehow shush the darn thing. Even though we live in the country, a barking dog is not acceptable.
As I got closer the barking stopped. Good. As I turned around and headed home the barking started again. Grrr. Back I went and swept the area with a good beam of flashlight. Nothing. Silence. Guess it went running back to the house.
Next evening, just at sundown, the fool thing was back, and right outside! Okay, so perhaps it's a lost dog looking for some attention?
The flashlight beam swept the edge of the pine plantation and eyes gleamed back at me. I called to it to "come here, c'mon boy". Before I could see the animal itself, it disappeared back into the trees. And started its high-pitched barking yet again.
Two days later the same scenario again, only this time at 7:00 a.m. and in the front yard. Out the door I go, walking stick in hand because, you know, maybe this dog has a problem with people.
The frantic yapping continued just behind the curtain of leaves. I ventured nearer, and it moved up the hill, yapping at me. I went up the hill and it moved to the crest, still just out of sight, its high-pitched barking loud enough to wake up anyone in the valley.
Now I should mention that being out in the dawn light, the yellow maple leaves glowing gold, the chilly fog lightly wrapping itself around the distant trees, the quiet feel of damp soil and fresh fallen leaves underfoot... it was actually one of the best morning walks I'd had in quite a while.
When I got back to the house and slipped my boots off, the yapping started again, just across the yard. Heck with ya, dog!
Due to the elusive nature of the beast I went on the internet to see if anyone had a recording of a coyote or red fox that I could listen to and compare notes.
Sure enough, first post was of a fox yapping, and bingo, exactly the same as what I had been enduring, er, hearing. A fox. That would explain the timidness, and being the size of a terrier therefore the same timbre of yap.
I could not find an explanation of why the darn thing was so intent on revealing itself vocally... mating season is still a couple snow-filled months away. The barking was very intentional, almost as if registering a complaint! But if it wanted to make a statement, well maybe I could get a photograph?
A series of trail cameras were set up, and a handful of cat kibble spread on the ground as bait. Heh-heh, now we'll see what the Yapper really looks like.
A night and a day later the cards were collected from the cameras and viewed with great anticipation on the computer screen. Hmm... lots of shots of leaves blowing by the shutter release. Lots of recorded images of a grass seed head bobbing across the viewfinder. But wait... look at that one...coyote!
Seems that a lone coyote uses the pathway on a late evening-early morning run. But is it the Yapper?
We are quite familiar with coyote conversations that fill the evening air in our valley, so I'm still thinking fox. But coyotes and foxes are enemies of each other, both loving a good supply of meadow voles and wild grapes, which we have in abundance.
So, do we have a belligerent fox taunting the coyotes, or a soprano-voiced coyote?
We will reset the trail cameras for a few more nights, maybe another night denizen will reveal itself. Meanwhile, we will be keeping a sharp eye, and ear, for any further signs that might confirm the identity of this wild dog.
Interesting that it sounds so much like that dog in the city subdivision that barks on and on and on and on and... on and on... and on.