April 20, 2006

Neutered wolf, transgendered cat

This week's Wet Mountain Tribune carries the news that Colorado Division of Wildlife officer Becky Manly finally caught up with and shot two wolf-hybrids that had been seen repeatedly around the north-central part of the county.

A friend had told me about them in March. It turned out that one was a neutered male. These were not wild wolves that had filtered down from Wyoming. They were most likely some idiot's "pets," turned loose to "fend for themselves."

It's calving time right now, and the two animals had been seen trying to teach themselves to hunt calves.

When M. and I first moved here, we were surprised at the number of dog skulls and in one or two cases, carcasses, that we found on the national forest. At first we thought that these were dogs from houses on our road, killed and dragged off by mountain lions or something.

In case, at least, I didn't recognize the dog--and I know all the dogs around here, better than I know some of the people.

So maybe some of these were the remains of "dumped" dogs as well. It's sad.

Cats can do better at fending for themselves. In the snowy spring of 1995, a long-haired black cat, shy and skittish, started hanging around the house. M. put a sleeping box and food in the garage for it. By the time the weather warmed, it would come in the house--but only if the front door were left open for a quick escape.

For some reason, we thought the cat was female and were calling her Fiona. We learned that she had been acquired by a rancher about two miles away as a barn cat, but she had walked off the job and survived for about three months in the woods on her own.

Eventually, we could handle her, and we took her to the vet for a medical exam and spaying. The vet tech's clippers revealed the truth: she was a he. (This was an embarrassing discovery for us, since we had had various cats before and thought we knew about cats.) So we named him Victor, retaining more or less the some combination of vowels.

Last Saturday, faced with a mounting series of medical problems, we decided to have him put down. When I had the grave ready, the dogs came and sniffed at him. They didn't seem to react much--they are dogs, and it's all about them--but in life, he and Shelby seemed to have a special bond. They even looked alike: both with long, silky black hair and a white blaze on the chest. And Shelby, too, was nearly feral when we got her.

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